While no criminal charges have been filed, the driver of a school bus involved in a fatal St. Lucie County accident has been charged with a traffic offense. In the aftermath, the parents of a boy that passed away in the accident away have filed a lawsuit against the driver of a truck that hit the bus and have filed a claim against the school district. After an in-depth investigation, the Florida Highway patrol (FHP) decided to charge 56-year-old bus driver Albert Hazen with the traffic offense of careless driving after being “inattentive” when he turned left in front of an oncoming semi-truck. Nine-year-old Aaron Beauchamp was killed in the crash and his parents have filed lawsuits against the truck driver and trucking company, as well as the school district.
Hazen was driving a bus filled with 30 students from Frances K. Sweet elementary school when the accident occurred. The truck, a 1998 Peterbilt semitrailer driven by Charles Cooper, crashed into the bus as it attempted to turn left. The bus, according to reports, spun 180 degrees and the truck overturned and landed upside-down. The trucking company named in the lawsuit is Jacksonville-based Cypress Trucking, Incorporated. Sixteen other students were injured in the accident that killed Aaron, including 11-year-old Joey Yannucci who was in a medically-induced coma for three weeks.
School bus accidents are frequently caused by distracted driving (alcohol use, texting, talking on the phone, not paying attention to the road), drowsiness, careless or reckless driving, dangerous roads, defective equipment (bus machinery, seat belts, etc.), inclement weather conditions, insufficient inspections, or improper vehicle maintenance. These types of accident causes may open up a driver, company, or other entity to liability for any injuries sustained by occupants or bystanders. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), from 1998 to 2008, the United States saw 1,564 fatalities in school transportation-related crashes, an average of 142 fatalities per year.
Has one of your loved ones been involved in a school bus accident? Negligent or reckless driving, defective equipment, and dangerous roadways are among the causes of bus accidents in Florida and across the country. If you or a loved one has been injured or killed in a bus accident, our Jacksonville school bus accident lawyers can determine fault in the accident. Depending on the result of this determination, you may be eligible to seek compensation for damages.