Cautionary Tale of Boy Left on School Bus Helps Explain Negligence Cases

Some time ago in Louisiana a young Reserve boy fell asleep on his school bus and awoke to find himself alone in the parking lot of the St. John the Baptist Parish School District central office. The upset kindergarten student stumbled into a school board meeting in progress and interrupted the proceedings with a frantic knock on the door. His parents were called and he was taken home unharmed, but the incident was a cause for concern among the School Board. So much so that Superintendent Courtney Millet called an emergency meeting with district bus drivers shortly thereafter.

As noted in an L’Observatuer article,

Millet said at the well-attended meeting she went over a list of notes concerning bus safety.

“They play such an important role,” said Millet.

She said she wanted to gather everyone together to make sure they were all on the same page.

“In our system, we all have to work together,” she added.

The meeting provided an opportunity to go over the safety procedures every driver in the district must follow. Particularly, checking the bus before a route begins and again after a route ends to ensure all children have safely gotten off the bus. Formal disciplinary action will not be taken about the bus driver in this case because he was a substitute. However, according to Millet, he will not be substituting again.

Even though the young child was not physically injured here, he easily could have been. In any event, important legal issues have been raised regarding possible legal claims the child or others in similar situations may have.

Negligence is a tort (or “civil wrong”) that is generally defined as conduct that falls short of what a reasonable person would be expected to do to protect another individual from harm in a given situation. If successful in a negligence lawsuit, the injured party may obtain financial compensation for physical and mental injuries from the negligent party. This could include include coverage of medical expenses, compensation lost wages, or payment for pain and suffering.

It is of particular importance that compensation for mental as well as physical harm is recoverable in a negligence lawsuit. Here, if the child suffered harm to his mental well being due to the trauma of being stranded on the bus he may be able to recover financially. His parents may have also suffered mental harm when they did not know where there child was when he did not come home after school.

Proving negligence requires proof of four elements. First, the negligent party must have owed a duty to the injured party. Duty implies a special relationship or can be established by law. Second, the duty must have been breached. Third, the breach must have caused the injury. There are two elements of causation; actual and proximate cause. Actual cause or cause in fact means that the injury would not have occurred but for the negligent action. Proximate cause goes further and requires that the injury was forseeable given the breach of duty; that the injury naturally resulted from the breach. Fourth, Damages must have resulted from the injury. While damages must be proven in the claim they are not the focus of a negligence lawsuit.

If you or a loved one has been injured and you believe it was because of the negligent behavior of someone else, you may be entitled to a financial recovery. At the Berniard Law Firm our attorneys have years of experience with negligence claims and would be happy to discuss your options with you at a free consultation. Please call us at (504) 527-6225 or Toll-Free at 1-866-574-8005.