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Although the criminal case is over, the parents of a six-year-old boy who died after being run over by a school bus have filed a filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the school district. The kindergartner was killed in January 2011 when the school bus ran over him moments after he exited the bus and crossed the street to go home. The suit alleges the bus driver waited only 4.4 seconds after he stopped the bus before moving forward and the child had not cleared the path of the bus before it began moving. The front of the bus knocked the child to the ground and the bus ran over him with the rear tire striking the boy’s head.

The 78-year-old bus driver was sentenced to serve five years of probation and is barred from driving. The boy’s father said the sentencing was not about vengeance, but about change so that this type of accident does not happen to another child.

School bus drivers are trusted with the care of dozens of children each day. Parents rely on them to be safe, cautious, reliable and trustworthy. Some may ask, “Where were the parents when their six-year-old child was getting off the bus?” While it is ideal for an adult to be present at the bus stop until children are safely onboard or off, this is not always feasible. School bus safety is everyone’s responsibility.

“After the initial investigation and review of training documents and videotapes from inside the bus, it became pretty clear this was not an isolated incident," said Joshua Myers, attorney for the plaintiffs, said.” He said it appears like the district consistently failed to provide the minimum required hours for training bus drivers in safety rules and regulations, such as loading and unloading students. Myers also said that video footage showed many students on the bus getting up while the bus was moving and screaming and yelling, all which can be distracting to the bus driver. The lawsuit which seeks compensation for counseling, loss of wages, and emotional damage is also meant to raise awareness about bus safety.

Our civil justice system is the family’s means to secure justice. The lawsuit is a harsh reality about the importance of safety standards and training. Hopefully, the lawsuit will create public notice of a serious problem and be a powerful incentive to enact safety measures necessary to prevent future victimizations.

If you are a bus driver remember, you are holding several lives in your hands. And, as a general rule for all drivers, remember that by driving safely you can prevent accidents, save time and money, and most importantly save lives.

Mark Bello has thirty-five years experience as a trial lawyer and thirteen years as an underwriter and situational analyst in the lawsuit funding industry. He is the owner and founder of Lawsuit Financial Corporation which helps provide legal finance cash flow solutions and consulting when necessities of life litigation funding is needed by a plaintiff involved in pending, personal injury, litigation. Bello is a Justice Pac member of the American Association for Justice, Sustaining and Justice Pac member of the Michigan Association for Justice, Business Associate of the Florida, Mississippi, Connecticut, Texas, and Tennessee Associations for Justice, and Consumers Attorneys of California, member of the American Bar Association, the State Bar of Michigan and the Injury Board.

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