Case Against School Bus Driver Dismissed Because Driver Was Transporting Students to Extracurricular Event

Screen Shot 2016-02-24 at 5.06.29 PMSeemingly insignificant facts can sometimes have a huge effect on a case. In a recent case, a lawsuit against a bus driver transporting students to a football game was dismissed because the bus was bringing students to an extracurricular activity rather than to attend classes. This seemingly insignificant fact ended up actually being very important, since this meant that the school was not liable under the statute under which the plaintiff brought the lawsuit.

Often, cases are dismissed because a board of education and its employees are immune from certain lawsuits. However, a state statute created a waiver that allowed lawsuits against county and city boards of education for the negligent operation of “school buses” and “school transportation service vehicles” in certain circumstances.

Is a School Activity Bus the Same as a School Bus?

That state’s supreme court explained that the statute in question referred to “school buses” and “school transportation service vehicles.” However, the bus in this case was a “school activity bus.” Thus, the defendant argued that the statute did not apply. On the other hand, the plaintiff argued that school activity buses fit within those definitions.

The court noted that, according to the statute, “school buses” are limited mainly to transporting students to and from a regular school day, transporting students for registration, transporting children with disabilities and children enrolled in special vocational or occupational programs, and performing other transportation duties relating to the instruction of students. In contrast, state laws stated that a “school activity bus” is a different type of vehicle, which is generally a different color from school buses, and whose main purpose is to transport students and others to or from an event that is outside regular classroom work. Accordingly, the court found that a school activity bus was a separate category of vehicles and that it was not included in the statute. Thus, the court stated that a school activity bus was not included in the waiver of immunity, and the board of education could not be sued under the statute.

School Bus Accidents in Illinois

In Illinois, there were 1,667 school bus accidents in 2013. And students are not the only people at risk. In school bus accidents, if there are fatalities, students on the school bus are rarely the ones killed. Between 2003 and 2012, 71% of the people who lost their lives in crashes were the occupants of other vehicles involved. Another 21% were non-occupants, including pedestrians and bicyclists. And even when there are luckily no fatalities, there are often injuries. In 2013, there were 541 people injured in accidents involving school buses, and 263 of those people were occupants of other vehicles.

Have You Been Injured in an Accident Involving a School Bus?

Whether or not the injured persons were students on the bus or not, suing a board of education can be difficult. A government entity’s immunity can protect entities like boards of education from lawsuits. In this case, whether or not the board could be sued depended on where the students were being transported. There are a number of factors to consider in cases involving school buses, and knowing whom to sue is an important decision. The attorneys at Moll Law Group have experience in personal injury cases dealing with issues of immunity. To learn more about your case, call us at 312-462-1700 or fill out our consultation form to arrange a free initial consultation.

See More Posts:

Common Carriers Must Take Reasonable Care or Face Liability, Illinois Injury Lawyer Blog, January 12, 2016.

State-Owned Railway Is Protected by Sovereign Immunity, Supreme Court Decides, Illinois Injury Lawyer Blog, January 9, 2016.

Illinois Protects Police with Partial Immunity in Police Misconduct Cases, Illinois Injury Lawyer Blog, January 16, 2016.