A bus driver received only probation for his involvement in a fatal Carroll County bus crash that resulted in fatal injuries for James Rashawn “Ray Ray” Walker, 17, when the boy was ejected from the vehicle and the bus rolled over on top of him.
The crash, that resulted in more than a dozen people being taken to the hospital as well of the tragic death of a teenage boy, will result in no significant criminal consequences. The parents of the boy wanted to see the bus driver prosecuted for second-degree voluntary manslaughter for the death of their son, but the bus driver pleaded guilty to failing to maintain a lane as a part of a negotiated plea deal.
This tragedy provides a key example of how a civil lawsuit can often provide the justice that the criminal courts cannot. The legal burden of proof is lower in a civil lawsuit, and the facts that must be established to impose civil liability is normally different in a personal injury lawsuit than a criminal case. Although the driver was permitted to drive the school bus by the district, there was a fair amount of evidence that should have put the school board on notice that this school bus driver posed an unsafe risk of causing a busing accident to both the children on the bus and those in other vehicles. Unfortunately, this evidence is more suited for a civil personal injury lawsuit, than proving the criminal culpability of the school bus driver.
A Georgia personal injury attorney may have a wealth of evidence at the lawyer’s disposal to prove liability on behalf of the driver and school district in a Georgia personal injury case. The bus driver was in training and lacked the state certification required to transport children on a school bus. The Superintendent blamed this on a “misinterpretation” of the rules promulgated by the Georgia Department of Driver Services.
The investigation into the accident also revealed other red flags that were apparently ignored or overlooked by the school district. The bus driver’s personnel file revealed that he had been involved in two prior bus accidents including one earlier that same day when he had collided with a dog while children were riding on the bus. The bus driver was also involved in a prior accident where he rammed the back of another school bus.
The bus driver’s trainer, who was onboard when the bus overturned, indicated in the trainer’s notes that the driver “veers out of his lane, crossing either white or the yellow lines a lot.” The trainer’s notes also indicated that the bus driver “stops abruptly” and “needs to be conscious of speed!” These observations are ironic because the fatal Carroll County bus accident was caused by the driver veering off the roadway.
The family in this case may decide to file a civil lawsuit against both the bus driver and the school district for ignoring the warning signs that seemed to indicate that this driver posed an unreasonable risk of harm of causing a Georgia bus accident. An experienced bus accident attorney will not only look at this evidence of negligence by the district and the driver but will look closely at the personnel file for the driver, the background investigation that was conducted during the bus driver’s hiring and the bus driver’s training and supervision, in addition to other potential evidence. Tragically, it appears there were opportunities to have anticipated and prevented this fatal Georgia bus accident.
While a civil judgement for financial compensation will not bring back this family’s child, it may help them achieve some degree of justice that they feel the criminal court failed to deliver. Many times a Georgia wrongful death lawsuit can provide some finality, fairness and justice. If you have lost someone you love in a Georgia bus accident, the experienced Georgia bus accident lawyers at Montlick and Associates have been representing families facing such tragedies for over 39 years.
Our Atlanta bus accident lawyers are available to assist clients throughout all of Georgia and the Southeast, including but not limited to Albany, Athens, Atlanta, Augusta, Columbus, Gainesville, Macon, Marietta, Rome, Roswell, Savannah, Smyrna, Valdosta, Warner Robins and all smaller cities and rural areas in the state. No matter where you are located our attorneys are just a phone call away, and we will even come to you. Call us 24 hours a day/7 days a week for your Free Consultation at 1-800-LAW-NEED (1-800-529-6333). You can also visit us online at www.montlick.com and use our Free Case Evaluation Form or 24-hour Live Online Chat.