Even as parents of children who were injured in a school bus accident in Indiana last month consider legal action, authorities are waiting for the autopsy results of the truck driver. The results will provide major clues into the cause of the accident that killed the truck driver, as well as a 5-year-old child passenger on the bus.
This has been one of the deadliest school accidents in Indiana in recent years. It also comes as a series of accidents have been reported from Pennsylvania, Missouri and Washington. Several students were critically or severely injured in those crashes too.
In the Indiana accident, the bus which was making its morning rounds, crashed into a support pillar on the Southeast side of Indianapolis. A 5-year-old girl and the truck driver were killed in the accident. Many students on the bus suffered serious injuries that included head and neck injuries and fractures. The children also complained of trauma after the accident.
Investigators are looking into the possibility that the driver of the bus was distracted just before the accident. They’re also considering the possibility that he might have suffered a heart attack while driving. Autopsy results will confirm whether heart failure or any other medical problem was a contributing factor in the accident.
This accident seems to have spotlighted national concerns about the absence of seat belts in so many school buses. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration does not require school buses to have seat belts, although the National Transportation Safety Board has been recommending seat belts in all school buses for many years now. In this particular accident, the children were thrown around the bus because they were not restrained. One of the biggest dangers when children are not restrained in a bus is that they may be ejected from the bus during an accident. In many accidents, the bus topples over on impact, and this increases the risk that a child may be completely or partially ejected from the window.
Questions about school bus safety are once again being raised by the media and by child advocacy groups. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, it is highly advisable to have seat belts in all school buses. The American Medical Association makes similar recommendations. However, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has not taken these recommendations seriously.
According to the agency, children are safe in school buses, and the number of children being fatally injured in school bus accidents is actually very low, compared to the number of children being injured in automobile accidents.
However, the fact remains that when a child is ejected from a window due to lack of a seat belt, the potential for life-altering or catastrophic injuries, like spinal cord injuries, is very real. These are devastating injuries that could significantly, and even irrevocably, alter a child’s life.
Making decisions based only on fatality comparisons, therefore, seems shortsighted, and misses the broader picture – that children are in greater danger when they are unrestrained on a school bus.
The Indiana personal injury lawyers at Montross, Miller, Muller, Mendelson and Kennedy represent persons injured due to the negligence of others across Indiana.