Burning Issues in Hot School Bus Wrongful Death Case

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By Yosi Yahoudai
Founder and Managing Partner

Q: Is the school district or bus company liable for the actions of a bus driver if he left a student to die on a hot school bus?

The responsibility of a school bus driver does not end with simply driving students safely from home to school and back. To avoid personal injury to or wrongful death of the children or adults in their care, school bus drivers are required to make a “sweep of the bus” to be sure no occupant has inadvertently been left behind. There is no excuse good enough for neglecting this important safety procedure. That includes being in a hurry to have adulterous sex with your co-worker girlfriend.

Two years ago, a married male bus driver pleaded guilty to one count of “dependent adult abuse” in the death of a 19-year-old nonverbal, special needs student. Allegedly “preoccupied with going to have sex with his girlfriend while he was supposed to be doing a sweep of the bus” the driver left the student on a scorching hot school bus all day. Evidence in support included “about a dozen sexually-explicit texts” to a fellow female bus driver and the woman’s own videotaped admission confirming the tryst. When the teen didn’t arrive home on the bus and his parents called police, they soon learned their son did not attend school that day. He was then found unconscious on the school bus floor and pronounced dead at the scene.  Being not only special needs, but also nonverbal, his parents assert he could not have called for help.

The teen’s family commenced a wrongful death action against the bus company that employed the two drivers and the school district where their son attended school. In addition they alleged a violation of the Elder Abuse and Dependent Adult Civil Protection Act which could subject the bus company to liability for “attorney’s fees and other damages not usually allowed in a wrongful death case”.

When someone is killed as the result of the negligent, reckless, or intentional actions of another person or entity, closer surviving family members of the victim may commence a wrongful death lawsuit. Employers may also be liable for the negligent actions of their employees, and/or for negligent hiring, training, or supervision. The family alleges that the company was aware of the affair between its drivers. The bus company’s policy on “employee fraternization” has been cited in the lawsuit.

Wrongful death lawsuits are very complex–from determining which relatives are entitled to sue to the types of damages that each may recover. Examples of wrongful death lawsuit damages may include the final medical and/or funeral expenses of the victim, loss of support, pain and suffering, loss of consortium/companionship, and more.

If a loved one has been killed as a result of the actions or inactions of another person or entity, the skilled wrongful death attorneys at J&Y Law Firm can help you. While we can’t bring your loved one back, we can help maximize any financial recovery you may be entitled to in an effort to relieve the financial burden of your unexpected loss.  Call us today at 888-806-6722 for a free consultation. With 21 offices throughout California, including our headquarters in Los Angeles, compassionate and experienced legal help is never far away.

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About the Author
Yosi Yahoudai is a founder and the managing partner of J&Y. His practice is comprised primarily of cases involving automobile and motorcycle accidents, but he also represents people in premises liability lawsuits, including suits alleging dangerous conditions of public property, third-party criminal conduct, and intentional torts. He also has expertise in cases involving product defects, dog bites, elder abuse, and sexual assault. He earned his Bachelor of Arts from the University of California and is admitted to practice in all California State Courts, and the United States District Court for the Southern District of California. If you have any questions about this article, you can contact Yosi by clicking here.