Recent Decision Distinguishes School Buses Used For Athletics from Those Used to Transport Children to and From School

The Supreme Court of the State of North Carolina recently released an interesting decision that reversed a lower state appellate court ruling that had allowed a personal injury claim based on an accident with a school bus to proceed against school administrators. The plaintiff in the case of Irving v. Charlotte-Mecklenburg Board of Education was injured while she was driving a car that was struck by a bus transporting student athletes and staff to a football game. Although the plaintiff’s claim has been rejected on jurisdictional grounds, she may still be entitled to relief through a separate action.

The Plaintiff Is Injured in an Accident with a School Bus Driven by a School Employee and Makes a Claim for Damages

In October 2007, the plaintiff’s car was struck by a school activity bus that was transporting student athletes and staff to a football game. The bus was being driven by an employee of the board of education, the defendant in this case. Rather than filing an accident lawsuit in state court, the plaintiff attempted to follow the procedures to sue a school district over a bus driver’s negligence, and she filed a claim against the defendant with the North Carolina Industrial Commission. The plaintiff made an administrative claim with the Industrial Commission because North Carolina law requires claims against allegedly negligent public school bus drivers to be pursued in this manner.

The School Board Argues the Bus Was a “School Activity Bus,” not a “Public School Bus”

When the case reached the Industrial Commission, the defendant argued there was no jurisdiction for the Commission to hear the claim. The defendant contended that the state law distinguishes between negligence claims involving “public school buses” (which must be filed before the commission) and claims involving “school activity buses” (which may be filed in state court). The district court and state supreme court agreed with the defendant, finding that the Industrial Commission was only the proper venue for claims involving public school buses that take students to and from school during regular school hours. Although the plaintiff will not obtain relief through her action filed with the Industrial Commission, she may be able to refile the claim in district court.

The Correct Process for Making a Negligence Claim in Virginia

Virginia state law does not distinguish between school buses that are used to transport children to and from school and school buses that are used to transport students and staff to and from activities or sports events. Furthermore, the procedure for suing the Commonwealth of Virginia does not require a plaintiff to go through any administrative body analogous to the North Carolina Industrial Commission. Claims against localities and municipalities may require different procedures, however, and any negligence victim should consult with a skilled Virginia personal injury attorney before filing a claim with a court or administrative body.

Have You Been Injured?

If you or a loved one has been injured or killed in a truck or bus accident, contact the Virginia, District of Columbia, and Maryland personal injury lawyers at The Schupak Law Firm by calling 703-491-7070 (Virginia) or 888-407-4529 (toll-free Maryland and D.C.), or send us a message using our online form. Our experienced attorneys have the knowledge and resources for you to seek the compensation you deserve. 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 Southern Maryland.

See More Blog Posts:

Couple Sues Auction House after Wife Injured in Slip-and-Fall Accident, Virginia Injury Lawyers Blog, January 20, 2016.

The Enforceability of Liability Release Waivers in Virginia Courts, Virginia Injury Lawyers Blog, February 3, 2016.

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