School Bus Accident – How Is This For An Unfair Ruling?

A school student was injured while riding in a school bus by an unidentified motorist who hit the bus and fled the scene. Since the motorist was unable to be identified, the student made a claim for uninsured motorist coverage under the bus company’s insurance policy. (Under state law an injured person looks first to the vehicle in which he or she was riding for compensation).

The school district denied that it was responsible for payment of any uninsured motorist benefits at all – because it claimed immunity under Pennsylvania’s Governmental Immunity Law. This law states that a school district is not liable for payment of uninsured motorist benefits to a bus passenger injured under such circumstances since the bus was stopped picking up a passenger. The court determined that the vehicle was not” in operation” at the time of the rear end collision therefore the school was given immunity.  Let’s see if we have this straight. The court decided that since the bus was stopped (albeit for a minute or so) to pick up passengers, that it was not being then and there “operated” as required by Pennsylvania’s Motor Vehicle Financial Responsibility Act in order for there to be coverages.

The student however, would be able to file a claim under her parent’s uninsured motorist coverage on their cars (if they were smart enough to have purchased it).

Peter Hart

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