Montgomery, Alabama (January 23, 2007) – A wrongful death lawsuit has been filed arising out of the school bus accident that occurred in Huntsville, Alabama, in November of last year. The complaint names as defendants Laidlaw Transit, the school bus driver and the driver of a passenger car that was involved in the incident. The school bus involved, which was owned by Laidlaw Transit, was transporting a group of Lee High School students to the Huntsville Technology Center. The school bus was equipped with a seat belt for the driver, but not for the students. The school bus driver was not wearing his seat belt when contact was made with the other vehicle and that contributed to his losing control of the bus. The driver was ejected from the bus before it left the highway after hitting a 32” high ramp wall. Four students were killed in the crash and several others injured.
The suit was filed in the circuit court for Madison County by the family of Nicole Ford, who was seated in the front of the bus and who was killed in the crash. Neither she nor any other student on the bus was wearing a seat belt because the bus was not equipped with seat belts for student passengers. Seat belts are required by statute for the drivers of school buses in Alabama. However, the statute is silent on any mandate for seat belts for passengers. The Alabama Supreme Court has ruled that this silence meant the Legislature only intended for bus drivers to be belted.
Jere Beasley, one of the lawyers representing the Ford family, stated, “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. 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. Of course, the Alabama Supreme Court could remedy the current situation when another school bus death case comes before the justices.”
Jere Beasley, Cole Portis and Kendall Dunson of Beasley, Allen, Crow, Methvin, Portis & Miles along with R. Wayne Wolfe of Wolfe, Jones, Boswell, Wolfe, Hancock & Daniel, LLC will be handling the case for the Ford family. This case was the first to be filed arising out of this tragic incident.
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