Sadly, just this week, five Chattanooga elementary students were killed when a bus driver crashed while speeding along a narrow, winding road. Here’s a link to the full article.
Reports are coming out that the driver was known for speeding. Responding to prior complaints, school district representatives apparently claimed that they couldn’t have done anything because school bus drivers are employed by outside contractors:
"Legally there is no way that we could discipline someone who is not our employee," Kutcher said. "We've got 192 Durham bus drivers. Obviously, this is a bad one."
As a Fairfax resident, what should you be thinking about?
Of course, this is truly a tragic incident. For children to be the victim of a bus accident is unthinkable, and to the extent that this driver contributed or caused the accident, he must be punished accordingly.
What’s also of concern is the school district’s apparent response to the accident. If the article is true, the school district is shifting blame to their bus contractor. But for the parents of these victims, the buck stops with the school.
As Fairfax residents, thinking about a child being injured in a bus accident is horrifying. However, to ignore risk and assuming that the School Board has everything in order is dangerous.
Did you know that in Fairfax, due to governmental immunity, if a child is injured due to the negligence of a bus driver, there is only $50,000 of automobile insurance available from Fairfax County? This is of course, unless the governmental immunity law can be overcome, which rarely happens. In considering the high cost of health care, this coverage is grossly inadequate.
What should you do? Check your UIM (Underinsured Motorist Coverage). Then Call make calls!
Insurrance companies are great at marketing. What they aren't great at (and on purpose) is making sure that you have adquate insurance coverage. While Fairfax may only have $50,000 in coverage, you NEED to check your own automobile insurnce policy (which you purchased for your child as well). On it, you likely purchased Unindureinsured Motorst Coverage (aka UIM). Just because you think you're "fully insured," is not enough. See the actual amount of coverage that you have. If you don't have $1 million in coverage, buy it now! It's only a couple hundred dollars more a year.
Because bus accidents involve vehciles, your autombile insurnce should step in to cover your child in the event of a bus accident. That's what you can do to protect you and your family.
To protect everyone, teach out to Fairfax County and ask whether this is the case and demand that something be done about it. Laws can be changed. But nothing happens without effort.
If you’ve got additional questions, reach out to BenGlassLaw at 703-591-9829.