Accident at a Bus Stop
Most motorists are aware that if a school bus stops in front of them with lights flashing, they are required to stop until the flashers stop or the stop sign that flips out on the passenger side is folded back in.
What some motorists may not know is what their state law requires them to do if the school bus that stops to pick up or unload students does so in the opposite lane. On two-lane roadways, all states mandate that vehicles behind and in front of the bus stop until flashers are turned off or until the stop sign recedes. On divided roadways with at least 3 lanes separating the cars from the bus, all but a few states require you to stop.
Concerning liability by a motorist who failed to stop for a school bus or proceeded before its flashers ceased flashing or its stop sign receded and stuck a student, the fault is usually clear. Students should not have to worry about cars that fail to obey the law in this regard.
For commercial buses, there are usually no requirements that other motor vehicles stop when the bus arrives at a bus stop. As for pedestrians, they must use caution when running to a bus or when crossing in front of the bus after exiting it. Usually, there is a crosswalk at the bus stop pavilion or stop for pedestrians to use to cross in front of the bus. If it is an unsignalized intersection, motorists, and pedestrians have to use due care when crossing since vehicles behind the bus are unable to see if pedestrians are crossing.
If a pedestrian is struck, liability may well be contested. A motorist may assert he proceeded with caution, but the pedestrian suddenly appeared or was running. The pedestrian, unless incapacitated or killed, may allege he was exercising due care and was past the bus but the vehicle never slowed despite having ample opportunity to see the pedestrian. In such cases, testimony from the bus driver or the bus occupants may confirm one of the parties’ version.
All parties must exercise caution when on the roadway and be defensive-minded. Most cases give the benefit of the doubt to the pedestrian who is much more vulnerable, though they are not immune from being comparatively negligent, especially if they were seen looking at a cell phone when crossing or if crossing against a red light.