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City and school district blamed for child’s bus accident death

Assigning liability for automobile accidents seems to be pretty straightforward. But there may be more to consider than just which vehicle collided with the victim and why. Auto accidents are sometimes caused by dangerous road design, poor urban planning and other factors that are not immediately noticeable.

A recent wrongful death lawsuit is a good example. It was filed by the parents of a Modesto, California, family after their 5-year-old son was struck and killed by a city bus. The bus driver is not named as a defendant in the lawsuit. Instead, the plaintiffs believe that the city and the school district are at fault.

On the day of the fatal accident last March, the young boy had just been let out of his kindergarten class for the day and was crossing a two-lane, residential street to meet his mother on the other side. This is when he was struck and killed by a city bus that did not have time to stop.

In their lawsuit, the boy’s parents allege that the city should have chosen a different route for city buses – one that didn’t include a residential street near an elementary school. At the very least, the bus should not have been running on that route during times when children were being dropped off and picked up from school.

The plaintiffs also say that parents frequently complained that the school lacked safe areas to drop off and pick up students, and that student release practices were unsafe in light of the busy traffic around the school. The school district allegedly ignored these complaints until after the fatal accident, the parents say.

These are safety concerns that probably exist in many cities throughout California and around the country. And although changes appear to have been made after the fact, a child’s life is far too high a price to pay for common-sense safety reforms.

Source: The Modesto Bee, “Kindergartner’s parents file wrongful-death claims against Modesto, Modesto City Schools,” Kevin Valine, Sept. 30, 2014

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