Court Rules that School Bus Passenger Is Covered by Insurance in Accident While Boarding the Bus

The Supreme Court of the State of Delaware recently affirmed a lower court’s decision that allowed a school bus passenger to make a claim against the insurance covering the school bus after the plaintiff was hit by another vehicle while crossing the street to board the bus. The lower court ruling was opposed by the insurance company, which argued that the school bus was not directly involved in the accident, and the plaintiff’s injuries should not be covered.

Plaintiff Is Injured After Vehicle Fails to Stop for School Bus

The plaintiff in the case of Buckley v. State Farm was a girl who had intended to ride the bus to school when she was hit by another vehicle and injured. Before the crash, the school bus driver operated the equipment signaling other drivers to yield to crossing children and signaled the plaintiff to cross the street. As the plaintiff was crossing the street to board the bus, a driver failed to yield and struck the plaintiff, causing injuries. Although the school bus driver was not alleged to have been at fault for the accident, the plaintiff made a claim against the bus’ insurance coverage to compensate her for the injuries she sustained.

The Plaintiff’s Personal Injury Protection Claim Is Denied

The plaintiff made a claim against the defendant, who provided insurance coverage for the school bus under the Personal Injury Protection (PIP) coverage on the bus. Personal Injury Protection coverage is designed to cover any passengers of the insured vehicle, as well as any other person injured in an accident involving the covered vehicle, other than an occupant of another vehicle. State Farm denied the plaintiff’s initial claim, responding that her injuries were not caused by an accident involving the school bus for which they were providing insurance.

The plaintiff filed a personal injury lawsuit against State Farm, seeking to compel them to cover her injuries with the PIP benefits covering the school bus. The lower court ruled in favor of the plaintiff, finding that school buses are not the same as other vehicles, and since the process of passengers’ entry and exit on the bus is controlled by the bus driver as a matter of law (because of unique laws penalizing drivers for failing to yield, as well as special equipment used on school buses to signal drivers to stop), the PIP coverage must apply. When the defendant appealed the decision to the higher court, the Delaware Supreme Court agreed with the district court’s ruling and compelled the defendant to cover the plaintiff’s injuries up to the policy limits of the PIP coverage.

Virginia Auto Insurance Minimum Coverage

Virginia law does not require drivers to have PIP coverage, although auto insurance is still mandatory in the state, and PIP coverage is still available. In the event of a Virginia car accident, drivers are required to have coverage to pay up to $25,000 for the bodily injury or death of one person, $50,000 to compensate for the bodily injury or death of two or more people, and a minimum of $20,000 to cover property damage caused by an accident that is the fault of the insured. Since there is no mandatory PIP coverage in Virginia, drivers are encouraged to purchase more insurance than the minimum required amount, as well as either optional PIP coverage or uninsured/underinsured motorist protection. In the event of a Virginia car accident, both the at-fault driver and the victim are better off by having more insurance than is required by law.

Have You Been in an Accident?

If you or a family member has been injured or killed in a Virginia or D.C. auto accident, the experienced Virginia, District of Columbia, and Maryland bus accident lawyers at The Schupak Law Firm can help you seek fair compensation for the full value of your claim. Our dedicated Virginia accident attorneys know how to hold insurance companies to their promises. At The Schupak Law Firm, we handle cases and have offices in the entire D.C. metro area, including in Arlington, Fredericksburg, Woodbridge, and throughout Northern Virginia, as well as in Southern Maryland. Contact us by calling 703-491-7070 (Virginia) or 888-407-4529 (toll-free in Maryland and D.C.), or send us a message using our online form.

See More Blog Posts:

Bar Owner Held Not Liable for Parking Lot Accident After Kicking At-Fault Driver Out of Bar, Virginia Injury Lawyers Blog, June 6, 2016.

Car Accident Victim’s Award Upheld after Government’s Appeal, Virginia Injury Lawyers Blog, May 3, 2016.

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