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When kids head back to school, will your child be safe?

Summer is still in full swing, with many trips down the down the shore, barbecues and summer festivals. But fall is not far off and with that, of course, the kids return to school.

While many kids bike, walk or are driven to school, a fair few take school buses. As parents, you want your child to be safe and you assume that both the school district and the bus companies have done their due diligence—such as thorough background checks--as far as hiring drivers. But have they?

How safe is your school bus driver?

None of us expects that our children might be endangered on a school bus. We understand that accidents can and do happen, but incidents are rare--and it is the kind of risk we assume daily when we drive ourselves to work. But a recent report from CBS shows a disturbing lack of foresight on bus driver hiring.

A bus driver who had already been charged with child abuse—the charges were later dropped—was allowed to remain in the profession. He later pleaded guilty to an assault charge involving a 15 year old special needs student. Another school bus driver had been charged in New Jersey with having both weapons and drugs in a school zone. Yet, despite the easy access to the criminal background, Tennessee still saw fit to hire the driver.

What recourse do I have as parent?

First, the best thing you can do is accompany your child to the bus stop. Get to know the driver. Do not hesitate to ask about his/her background. If you find something concerning, bring it to the attention of both the school district and the school bus company. Background checks are easy and free on many state judicial websites, so you may always look up the background of your child’s driver. Again, if you find something troublesome, make sure you alert all appropriate school personnel.

What if my child is hurt? Can I hold someone responsible?

You may be wondering: In the event this happened to my child, what are my options? Is the law on my side for receiving medical bill payments and other damages? And the answer is yes. If your child is hurt by a driver, the school district, bus company and even the driver may be liable. Trying to deal with any of the entities directly, however, may not get the results you want.

Many liable parties are often very good at deflecting blame and can--and often will--drag out the process indefinitely. Not only is this annoying, it could potentially leave you with no options, as under the law, each statute—criminal or civil—has a statute of limitations. If you are not careful, you could miss your deadline for filing a claim forever.

 

 

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The Law Offices of Gruccio, Pepper, DeSanto & Ruth, P.A.
817 East Landis Avenue
Vineland, New Jersey 08360

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