Car Accidents in School Zones

Car Accidents in School Zones: Legal Responsibilities and Safety Precautions

School zones are designed to ensure the well-being of students. Unfortunately, car accidents in these areas remain a concerning reality. Drivers can contribute to the creation of safer environments for students by understanding and adhering to California traffic laws. 

If your child was injured because of someone else’s negligence, you can pursue compensation and justice through a personal injury claim. An outstanding school bus accident lawyer can help you identify all the at-fault parties, collect strong evidence to prove liability and maximize your financial compensation.

Legal Responsibilities of Drivers in California School Zones

In California, drivers navigating school zones are subject to specific legal responsibilities designed to keep students safe.

  • Reduced Speed Limits: California law mandates reduced speed limits in school zones during specific hours, typically when children are arriving or leaving the school. Drivers need to adhere to these posted speed limits, which are generally lower than standard speed limits in the area.
  • Yielding to Pedestrians: Drivers are legally required to yield the right of way to pedestrians within marked crosswalks or at intersections in school zones. This includes waiting for pedestrians to completely cross the road before proceeding.
  • No Passing: Passing other vehicles is often prohibited in school zones, particularly when children are present. The intention is to maintain a controlled flow of traffic and prevent sudden lane changes that could pose risks to pedestrians.
  • Cell Phone Restrictions: California law prohibits the use of handheld electronic devices, including cell phones, while driving. This restriction is especially important in school zones, where distractions can lead to accidents.
  • Stopping for School Buses: When school buses are stopped and displaying flashing red lights, drivers in both directions need to come to a complete stop. This applies on undivided roadways or when there is no physical barrier or median.
  • Obey School Crossing Guards: School crossing guards play an important role in guiding pedestrians safely across the road. Drivers must obey their signals and instructions, stopping when directed and proceeding only when it is safe to do so.
  • Awareness of School Zone Signs: Paying close attention to school zone signs is vital. These signs indicate the presence of a nearby school, the reduced speed limit, and other specific regulations that drivers must follow.

Responsibilities of School Administration to Prevent Accidents in School Zones

  • Traffic Safety Measures: Schools are responsible for implementing and maintaining traffic safety measures in and around school zones. This includes working with local authorities to establish appropriate speed limits, crosswalks, and signage.
  • Crossing Guards: If deemed necessary, schools may be responsible for coordinating and employing crossing guards to assist students in safely crossing streets near the school. Proper training and supervision of crossing guards is an important responsibility.
  • School Zone Signage: Schools need to ensure the proper installation and visibility of school zone signage. Clear and visible signs indicating reduced speed limits, crosswalks, and other relevant information contribute to overall safety.
  • Safe Drop-Off and Pick-Up Zones: Schools are responsible for designating safe areas for student drop-off and pick-up. This includes creating organized and supervised zones to prevent traffic congestion and enhance safety. 
  • Bus Loading and Unloading Safety: If the school provides bus transportation, ensuring safe loading and unloading zones is a non-negotiable. This includes designating specific areas for buses and establishing protocols for student embarkation and disembarkation.

Legal Recourse After a School Bus Accident

In California, if someone is involved in a school bus accident, there are legal avenues to pursue recourse. It’s fundamental to note that getting legal advice from a qualified attorney is essential for understanding the specific details of the situation and determining the best course of action. If your child sustains injuries in a school bus accident, you may pursue a personal injury claim against the responsible party. This could include the school district, bus driver, or another party deemed negligent.

School districts may be held liable for accidents involving their buses. If the accident occurred due to a lack of proper maintenance, inadequate training of bus drivers, or other issues attributable to the school district, they could be held responsible. In some cases, a defect in the school bus or its components may contribute to an accident. In such instances, a product liability claim against the manufacturer or distributor of the bus or its parts may be pursued.

An attorney with experience in personal injury law can assess the circumstances, gather evidence, and guide you through the legal process. This is someone who’s been through the legal battlefields before and knows how to deal with the pressure this entails. 

Statute of Limitations for Filing a School Bus Accident Claim

The general statute of limitations for personal injury claims, including those arising from school bus accidents, is two years from the date of the injury. If the school bus is operated by a government entity, such as a school district, additional rules may apply. 

You may need to file a government tort claim before filing a lawsuit against a government agency. The claim should be filed within six months of the date of the injury. If the government entity rejects the claim, the individual then has six months from the date of the rejection to file a lawsuit.

If a minor is injured in a school bus accident, the statute of limitations is often tolled, or postponed, until the minor reaches the age of 18. In such cases, the minor typically has two years from their 18th birthday to file a personal injury lawsuit.

Our Dedicated School Bus Accident Lawyers are Ready to Fight for Your Rights

The skilled personal injury attorneys at Garmo & Garmo, LLP have significant experience in handling school bus accident cases, bringing in-depth knowledge to ensure the best possible outcome for your claim. We have a proven track record of success, obtaining large settlements and verdicts for clients who have suffered injuries or losses in bus accidents. To set up your free consultation, call 619-441-2500 or reach us online.