Recently, our Chicago accident attorneys read a news report detailing an Illinois accident lawsuit that has been filed as a result of a 2009 bus accident. According to the report, posted on ChicagoTribune.com, the accident transpired in 2009 when motorists on the Edens Expressway noticed a school bus weaving in and out of traffic and driving erratically. Witnesses noticed the bus driver’s head resting on the wheel as if he had fallen asleep while the school children yelled out the windows. The bus was unable to come to a stop, even after orders by a police officer, until the bus veered off the roadway – ultimately striking a signpost.
As a result of the accident, in which only 1 of the 41 children aboard the school bus sustained injury, the bus driver was sentenced to probation and community service in 2011 after he was found guilty in criminal court of child endangerment. The bus driver was ultimately cleared of DUI charges when it was argued by the defendant’s lawyer that he blacked out due to low blood sugar – a result of his Type 1 diabetes. Prosecutors had asked for a stiffer sentence based on the fact that the driver knew his illness made him a potentially dangerous driver and that he continued to operate even though he knew his blood sugar was dangerously low.
Our accident attorneys in Chicago learned that a civil lawsuit has been filed by the parents of one of the school children. The lawsuit names both the bus driver and his bus company as defendants. Court papers allege that the bus company acted negligently for failing to review the bus driver’s driving records and medical history before hiring him. The lawsuit also asserts that the child has suffered permanent injuries as a direct result of the bus driver’s actions.
Any Chicago accident lawyer will tell you that when a school bus operates in a negligent manner, the results are almost always severe and life-altering. According to statistics provided by the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, since 1998 over 1,564 people have died as a result of school transportation-related accidents. On average, school bus accidents account for approximately 142 fatalities each year. The statistics further reveal that an average of 19 school-age children die in school transportation accidents each year, with 5 of those fatalities including occupants of the vehicles and 14 pedestrians.
If you or a loved one has been injured or killed in a school bus accident, please contact our experienced Chicago accident lawyers as soon as possible for a free consultation to see what legal rights may be available to you.