A recent bus accident in Tennessee illustrates a few basic rules of negligence law. The accident occurred on Feb. 6 on Highway 11 near Calloway Road. One person died and three others suffered personal injury after a head-on collision occurred between a Loudon County school bus and a small SUV.
The details currently known are very sparse, so that it is not known which driver may have caused the accident, or if both drivers shared in the fault. The Tennessee Highway Patrol reported that the female driving the SUV was killed in the crash. Reportedly, two students on the bus and the bus driver were transported to local hospitals.
In Tennessee, there is a comparative negligence standard of allocating legal responsibility in any tort case, including auto or vehicular accidents. Comparative negligence allows an injured plaintiff to collect damages for personal injury as long as the plaintiff was not more than 49 percent at fault. With respect to the injured bus passengers in this case, they are probably without any fault in causing the accident.
If the facts turn out to show that both drivers were partially at fault for causing the accident, then each would share legal responsibility to compensate the injured students. In that event, they are considered to be joint tortfeasors with respect to the innocent passengers. Alternatively, if the facts show that the SUV driver, for example, caused the accident by crossing the center line and crashing head-on into the bus, then her estate would be solely responsible to the two students and to the bus driver.
If the bus driver turns out to be the sole party at fault in causing the collision, then he and the bus company will be responsible to the students who suffered personal injury. They will also be liable to the estate of the decedent. The estate in that event is said to have a wrongful death tort claim against the driver and the bus company or other owner of the bus. The rules can get complex and the procedure for collecting compensation in such situations is generally best carried out by an experienced Tennessee personal injury attorney.
Source: newschannel9.com, “One Dead, Three Hospitalized After Crash Involving School Bus”, Feb. 6, 2015