Orlando Sentinel reported a devastating incident that unfolded on Tuesday, January 16, 2024, when a 9-year-old child lost their life in a crash involving an Orange County school bus during its last stop from Lawton Chiles Elementary School located at 11001 Bloomfield Dr, Orlando, FL 32825. Officials from the Florida Highway Patrol (FHP) confirmed the tragic news, sending shockwaves through the community.
According to FHP spokesperson Migdalisis Garcia, the incident occurred around 3:45 p.m. at the Waterford East Apartments in Orlando, FL. The child was struck and killed while on Wharf Lane, near the intersection of Island Bay Drive. In response, roadblocks were swiftly put in place around the apartment community.
"The sequence of events that led to this crash are still under investigation," stated Garcia, highlighting the ongoing efforts to determine the circumstances surrounding the tragic accident.
It was revealed that the child was a student at Lawton Chiles Elementary School and was the last to be dropped off for the day. The bus driver, a 54-year-old man with extensive experience, remained at the scene of the accident and fortunately sustained no injuries.
Based on initial investigations by FHP, it was revealed that the child ran back towards the school bus after being dropped off and tragically crawled underneath the vehicle while the bus driver was navigating a roundabout. The exact reasons behind this heartbreaking decision are not yet known and are part of the ongoing inquiry.
In response to the devastating incident, OCPS Superintendent Maria Vazquez expressed her condolences and assured the public that the school district is fully cooperating with the investigation. She also announced that counselors would be made available to support students and staff members affected by the tragic news.
"My heartfelt thoughts and prayers go out to the student's family and school community," said Superintendent Vazquez. "To lose a child so suddenly and tragically is extremely difficult, especially for family and friends... We ask that you keep the entire Lawton Chiles Elementary School community in your prayers as they grieve the loss of one of their own."
In the aftermath of a tragic bus accident, victims and their families often face immense challenges in seeking justice and finding closure. To shed light on the legal aspects of school bus accident cases, we sat down with Michael Haggard, an experienced bus accident attorney with offices in Florida. In this exclusive interview, Haggard shares valuable insights into how victims and their families can pursue justice through civil lawsuits. From establishing negligence to seeking fair compensation, Haggard offers guidance and expertise to those navigating the complexities of bus accident litigation. Join us as we learn about the legal recourse available to those affected by these devastating incidents.
Editor Darla Medina (DM): Thank you for joining us, Mr. Haggard.
Michael Haggard, Esq. (MH): Thank you, Darla. It's a pleasure to be here.
DM: In light of the recent tragic school bus accident in Orlando, can you explain how victims and their families can seek justice through civil lawsuits against negligent parties when involved in such accidents?
MH: Absolutely, Darla. When it comes to school bus accidents, victims and their families have the option to pursue justice through civil lawsuits. These lawsuits are typically filed against the negligent parties responsible for the accident, such as the bus driver, the bus company, or even the school district in some cases.
DM: What factors are considered when determining negligence in a bus accident case?
MH: When establishing negligence, several factors are taken into account. These may include driver error, such as distracted driving or speeding, inadequate bus maintenance, improper training of drivers, or even failure to follow traffic rules and regulations. It's crucial to thoroughly investigate the circumstances surrounding the accident to identify the responsible parties.
DM: Can you explain how compensation works in these types of cases?
MH: Certainly, Darla. In bus accident cases, victims and their families may be eligible for various types of compensation. This can include medical expenses, rehabilitation costs, pain and suffering, emotional distress, lost wages, and even future financial losses if the victim has suffered a long-term disability. The goal is to provide fair compensation that helps the victims and their families rebuild their lives.
DM: What advice do you have for those who may be considering pursuing a civil lawsuit following a school bus accident?
MH: My advice would be to consult with an experienced bus accident attorney as soon as possible. These cases can be complex, and having legal guidance is crucial. An attorney can assess the circumstances, gather evidence, negotiate with insurance companies, and represent the victim's interests throughout the legal process. It's important to act swiftly to preserve evidence and meet any applicable deadlines for filing a lawsuit.
DM: Thank you, Mr. Haggard, for sharing your insights on seeking justice through civil lawsuits in bus accident cases.
MH: It was my pleasure, Darla. I hope this information can be helpful to those who may find themselves in such unfortunate circumstances. Remember, seeking legal guidance can make a significant difference in obtaining the justice and compensation that victims and their families deserve.