Parents and families remain devastated by last month’s tragic school bus accident in Tennessee that left six children dead and several others seriously injured when a speeding bus drove off-route and off the road into a tree and rolled on its side. Recent developments in the tragic story are generating more questions than answers and likely aggravating the contentious relationship between school authorities and the parents, who are upset that the bus driver was allowed to continue driving their children after warning signs that many say should have resulted in his being fired or at least investigated. The bus driver has since been arrested and charged with six counts of automobile homicide and reckless endangerment.
Parents Are Upset that Complaints about the Driver Were Not Addressed Before the Crash
According to a national news source, there were several written complaints filed by students, parents, and even school employees concerning the reckless driving of the man who was driving the bus before last month’s deadly accident. One student reported that he believed the man was intentionally trying to hurt the children by driving dangerously, and he told them that he did not care for their safety, causing some students to avoid riding that bus. These warnings did not cause authorities to suspend the driver or otherwise address the issue, leaving some parents angry.
Pursuing a Claim Against a Government Agency or Subdivision in Florida
Until the 1970s, the state of Florida and its political subdivisions were absolutely immune from liability for the conduct of government employees. With the passage of a limited sovereign immunity waiver in 1973, the legislature set the stage to allow the victims of negligence by a state employee to pursue claims for damages against the state, but many limitations, roadblocks, and special requirements have developed in the years since the waiver was first enacted.
The current immunity waiver statute is codified in Florida Statutes Title 45, Chapter 768.28, and it allows for government agencies or subdivisions to be sued for up to $200,000 per victim or $300,000 per incident for damages caused by the negligence of a government employee acting within the course of their employment. This could pose problems for victims of an incident that resulted in substantial damages to multiple parties, such as a school bus accident. Additionally, extremely reckless conduct by a government employee may not be found to be within the scope of the employee’s employment, as required by the statute.
Subsection 9(a) of the statute notes that no government employee can be held accountable in their personal capacity for negligent acts or omissions unless such an act or omission was committed in bad faith, with a malicious purpose, or in a manner exhibiting wanton and willful disregard of human rights, safety, or property. Also, a state or municipal agency does not waive their immunity from suit for such acts, which may be pursued only against the actor. In addition to the damages limits and willful wrongdoing restrictions on a person’s right to sue a government agency, there are also a host of pretrial requirements and procedural hurdles that must be met before an accident victim may be granted relief.
Should You Seek Legal Representation After an Accident?
Victims of negligence or willful wrongdoing by a government employee while they were on the job may struggle to determine whom to sue, whether it is even worthwhile, and exactly how to do it. If you or a loved one is considering a wrongful death or personal injury case against a state or municipal agency or employee for negligence or willful misconduct, you may have a case for damages. The knowledgeable wrongful death and personal injury attorneys at Friedman, Rodman & Frank can help you evaluate your case. Several parties may be liable for a single incident, and we can ensure that the proper procedures are followed to seek recovery from all applicable parties. Contact us and schedule an appointment with a South Florida negligence attorney to discuss your potential case. The consultation is free, and there is no obligation. Call today at 877-448-8585 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation.
More Blog Posts:
Dismissal of Rollerblading Injury Case Affirmed by Appellate Court, South Florida Personal Injury Lawyers Blog, published December 1, 2016.
Court Sides with Plaintiff, Reversing Judgment for Defendant in Slip-and-Fall Case, South Florida Personal Injury Lawyers Blog, published November 17, 2016.