School buses are trusted with the most precious of cargo – our children. Each day, parents across Tennessee put their faith in school bus drivers to safely transport their children to and from school. One of the most dreaded phone calls a parent can get is that their child was injured in a school bus wreck.
School buses can be considered “common carriers” by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. A school bus is defined as “a passenger motor vehicle which is designed or used to carry more than 10 passengers in addition to the driver, and which the Secretary of Transportation determines is likely to be significantly used for the purpose of transporting pre-primary, primary, or secondary school students from home to school or school to home.” When a school bus crash results in numerous injuries or deaths, federal agencies typically get involved to conduct investigations into how and why it happened, and lessons others can learn to prevent tragedies in the future.
In Tennessee, school districts can handle their own transportation or contract out the service to a third party company. For example, Shelby County Schools contracts with Durham School Services. This private company is tasked with maintaining the bus fleet and hiring drivers. In contract, in Jackson, TN, school bus operations are handled by the Jackson Madison County School System. When pursuing a case involving a school bus accident, an important consideration is whether your claim is against a private company or governmental entity.