Driving involves risk. Driving for a living is hazardous, especially for those who are constantly resisting distractions while operating their vehicles, such as school bus drivers. For school bus drivers, car accidents have an elevated level of danger, given that they are transporting large numbers of often rowdy children in a sometimes very noisy environment.
School buses, as big as they are, still leave their occupants vulnerable to harm when accidents happen. They can be run off the road; they can become overturned; and, more often, they can collide with other vehicles, jolting the driver and passengers and causing injuries.
When school bus drivers become injured in such an accident, they are entitled to collect Workers’ Compensation benefits, even in cases in which their own actions caused the accident.
What are Work-Related Injuries Suffered by School Bus Drivers?
School bus drivers who become injured in traffic accidents while driving their bus may suffer from broken bones, lacerations, head trauma, or any number of injuries related to being thrown about the vehicle in a collision. If the accident is particularly devastating, such as if any of the children are injured, the school bus driver may suffer from psychological trauma related to feelings of guilt or shame for not being able to protect the children from harm.
What Should a School Bus Driver Do after a Car Accident?
After any car accident, the scene becomes a blur of activity as those affected regain their bearings. For a school bus driver who is responsible for the safety of schoolchildren on their bus, the task can be overwhelming. It may help to keep these steps in mind:
- Assess if anyone is seriously hurt.
- Call 911 for help.
- Get medical attention for the injured.
- Phone the bus company to make them aware of the situation, and enact protocols to send another bus to retrieve the children from the scene.
- Have one’s own injuries evaluated and documented.
- Obtain information on the other driver and their vehicle as well as their insurance information.
- Take pictures or video of the scene to be used as evidence.
- Get contact information and statements from witnesses to the accident.
How Does a School Bus Driver Claim Workers’ Compensation Benefits?
The first step an injured bus driver should do is to make their employer aware of the work-related accident. Usually, if the company is involved in rerouting the children on another bus, the employer will be well aware of the incident. Still, even if the initial notice occurred at the time of the accident, it is smart to provide an official notice of the work-related injuries suffered in writing with the date of the communication noted, as well as the date and details of the incident itself.
Most importantly, the injured school bus driver should keep diligent track of all medical assessments and treatments received for the injuries sustained in the accident. These records can be used as evidence in the event that Workers’ Compensation benefits are denied.
Why Would a School Bus Driver be Denied Workers’ Compensation Benefits?
Any accident that happens when the employee is on duty should make them eligible for Workers’ Compensation benefits. A situation in which an accident occurs when the school bus driver is transporting a group of children to school is clearly a work-related incident. Other injuries may not be so clearly linked to work duties. For example, a bus driver who becomes injured in a slip and fall accident while exiting the bus after a shift might have trouble proving the link to work activities, particularly if the accident happened off premises as opposed to on school grounds, at a bus stop, or at the bus depot or garage.
Why Would School Bus Drivers Receive Workers’ Compensation Even When Their Own Negligence Caused the Accident?
Workers’ Compensation is an insurance benefit that is available to employees regardless of who was at fault in the accident. When a carpenter carelessly operates a chop saw and removes his own finger, the employer must still provide compensation to them through the company’s Workers’ Compensation program, since they were hurt while performing duties in accordance with the requirements of their job.
The same is true when a school bus driver becomes injured in a traffic accident or some other incident, such as the slip and fall example above, as long as the accident happened within the scope of their employment, meaning that they were hurt while doing their job.
What Benefits are Available Through Workers’ Compensation?
State law requires that businesses purchase Workers’ Compensation insurance to provide benefits to injured workers. These benefits are meant to cover any expenses that result from the injuries sustained in a work accident. They should address any costs for medical evaluation, treatment, equipment, or prescriptions as well as follow-up appointments and physical therapy.
Workers’ Compensation also allows injured workers to collect benefits for lost income. This is to prevent them from suffering financial hardship if they spend significant time recovering from their injuries. When the injuries are so significant that the worker becomes unable to return to work, the benefits may cover loss of future income as well.
Mount Holly Workers’ Compensation Lawyers at Kotlar, Hernandez & Cohen, LLC Assist Injured Workers in Obtaining Their Rightful Employee Benefits
If you are a school bus driver who was hurt at work, you should be able to collect benefits from your employer’s Workers’ Compensation insurance. You should be covered for all out-of-pocket costs to diagnose and treat your work-related injuries. You may also be able to collect compensation for any lost wages you may have suffered. The Mount Holly Workers’ Compensation lawyers at Kotlar, Hernandez & Cohen, LLC can help you understand the rules for eligibility and support your rights to collect the benefits you deserve. Call us at 856-751-7676 or contact us online for a free consultation. Our offices are in Mount Laurel, Cherry Hill, Trenton, and Vineland, New Jersey; and Trevose, Pennsylvania. We serve clients throughout New Jersey and Pennsylvania.