We all were troubled when we heard the news yesterday that a Knox County School bus was involved in an accident near Dutchtown Road in Knoxville, TN. Several of the children on the bus were taken to area hospitals to treat their injuries. All of us remember the tragic school bus accident in December of 2014, that resulted in the deaths of two students and a teacher. As more details emerge regarding this accident, it appears that all of the students involved have been treated and released and let’s be sure to keep the students and their families in our thoughts and prayers as they recover.
There are many questions that come up when we consider how school bus accidents are treated under Tennessee law. A carrier of passengers, such as a school bus, is considered a common carrier under Tennessee law. A common carrier has a duty to exercise the utmost care and skill which very prudent and skillful people would use for their protection. In contrast, most drivers on the road are held to a standard of ordinary care. However, a bus driver is held to a standard of extraordinary care.
If, for example, a bus driver is found to have committed even the slightest deviation of care or negligence in an accident, the bus company is liable to compensate every passenger aboard for their injuries and resulting damages. Common carriers in Tennessee must provide the highest degree of care for the safety of the passengers aboard and must exercise the most extraordinary care to provide safe conveyance throughout their travel. Under Tennessee law, this high standard applies to getting on and off the vehicle as well as when the vehicle is transporting passengers.
No one wants to see students injured in a school bus accident. We hope this article assists the reader in better understanding Tennessee law and the care the law requires a common carrier to take with regard to its passengers.