Beasley Allen law firm has reached a settlement agreement on behalf of the family of Nicole Ford, a Lee High School student who was killed when her school bus crashed Nov. 20, 2006, in Huntsville, Ala., and plunged 30 feet from a highway overpass to the ground below. Ms. Ford was among 40 students traveling to the Huntsville Technology Center who were involved in the tragic crash. None of the students was wearing a seatbelt.
The suit was filed in the Circuit Court for Madison County by Beasley Allen attorneys Cole Portis and Kendall Dunson, along with Wayne Wolf of the Huntsville firm Wolfe, Jones, Boswell, Wolfe, Hancock & Daniel, LLC. This was the first case filed as a result of the incident. Defendants were Laidlaw Transit, the school bus driver, and the driver of a passenger car that was involved in the crash.
Four students including Miss Ford were killed in the crash, and many others were injured. The bus was not equipped with seat belts for student passengers. Although seat belts are required by statute for the drivers of school buses in Alabama, the statute is silent on any mandate for seat belts for passengers. The Alabama Supreme Court has ruled this silence indicates the Legislature only intended for bus drivers to be belted.
“The safety of children riding as passengers on school buses must be a top priority for those who are in charge of our schools and for those who own and operate school buses,” said Dunson. “This tragic incident resulted in the loss of innocent lives. Hopefully, the Alabama Legislature will take the necessary action to require all bus manufacturers to equip school buses with seat belts for passengers.”
The amount and terms of the settlement remain confidential.