A mother and her three-year-old son lost their lives recently in New Portland after the mother failed to stop at a traffic sign and was struck by a school bus, officials say.
The 36-year-old mother and her young child were pronounced dead at the scene at an intersection on U.S. Route 2, shortly before 10 p.m. The bus was carrying a large group of students back from an earlier function. The students aboard the bus, while shaken, were not injured. Authorities were still investigating details, including possible contributing factors. Investigators say all they know for sure is the driver failed to stop at the stop sign. The intersection reportedly isn’t one known for crashes, and the speed limit is 55 mph, according to the Portland Press-Herald.
Recently, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) released figures from a decades-long analysis of school bus and school transportation-related crashes nationally. What they discovered was that from 2006 to 2015, there were 1,172 school transportation-related accidents. That amounts to 0.4 percent of the total fatal crashes, which numbered nearly 325,000.
A total of 102 school-age pedestrians under the age of 18 died in school bus accidents. Of those, more than 60 percent were struck by school buses, while 36 percent were struck by other vehicles, such as large trucks, passenger cars, motorcycles, sport utility vehicles, vans, and light trucks.
Also during that time frame, 113 school bus occupants were killed in crashes.
Meanwhile, of the 218 non-school-age pedestrians killed in school bus-related crashes, 76 percent were struck by the school bus. The other 22 percent were struck by other vehicles nearby.
In cases in which buses may have been used for school or school-related activities, a total of three school bus drivers lost their lives in this time, as did four passengers.
We should also note that of the 301 school-age children who died in these collisions:
- 54 were occupants of the school bus;
- 137 were occupants of other vehicles;
- 103 were pedestrians; and
- Eight were on bicycles.
Of course, as the recent bus accident in Maine shows, not all crashes may be directly the fault of the driver or the school district. However, it should be noted that Maine follows a system of modified comparative negligence in civil liability actions. What this means is that lawsuit recoveries related to a death or injury may be reduced by the extent that a judge or jury finds the victim’s own actions contributed to his or her own injuries or death. However, the fact that the plaintiff or decedent may have shared some of the blame is not enough in and of itself to prohibit these lawsuits in Maine, as it would be in some states.
School bus transportation is one of the safest modes of travel. However, this does not mean it is totally free from risk, and those who are affected by such incidents would be wise to explore their legal options, at least with a free initial consultation with an attorney who can explain your rights.
If you are a victim of a Portland intersection collision, contact Peter Thompson & Associates at 1-800-490-5218 for a confidential consultation to discuss your rights.
Car-school bus crash kills mother, son in Norridgewock, March 11, 2017, Staff Report, Portland Press Herald
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Judge Grants $2M Attachment on Assets of DUI Manslaughter Suspect, March 2, 2017, School Bus Injury Lawyer Blog