A traffic crash in Oviedo (Seminole County) involving a school bus and a pick-up truck was reported at approximately 6:30 this morning. The crash occurred at the intersection of Lake Miils Road and County Road 419. The accident scene shut down Chuluota Road (419) for more than one hour.
A spokesperson for Seminole County Fire and Rescue was quoted in an article in the Orlando Sentinel as saying that the seven Hagerty High School Students were, thankfully, not injured. A spokesperson for Seminole County Public Schools states that the students were picked up by another school bus, and taken to school. The bus driver was not injured.
Unfortunately, the driver of the other vehicle – the pick up – was hurt and was transported to Orlando Regional Medical Center.
The article states that the the Florida Highway Patrol has not released any information regarding the pick-up truck driver’s injuries or condition. The article was silent as to any indication of fault.
It this situation, there are several legal issues under Florida Law that come into play. First, and foremost, we hope that anyone involved who may have been injured in this accident gets checked out by a doctor so if injured the most appropriate medical care for those injuries is obtained. With respect to the questions of liability or fault, if the driver of the pick up was negligent and caused injuries to anyone else involved it is critical that the driver and/or his insurance company is put on notice of any potential claim. Insurance companies have an affirmative duty to investigate claims, but this will hopefully speed up their investigation
If the bus driver was negligent and that negligence was the cause of the collision and injuries to others, the there are issues that arise dealing with Florida’s waver of sovereign immunity. If you have a potential claim against a State entity, political subdivision or some other agency of the Florida Government – such as a school-board – you must look at Florida Statute 768.28. Florida waives its immunity to civil lawsuits. However, with that waiver comes a cap on damages, a cap on attorney fees, and procedural hurdles that must be overcome prior to filing a lawsuit against a governmental entity. In certain situations, the cap on damages can be overcome through the passing of a special claims bill by the legislature.
As for the procedural hurdles, formal notice to the government entity and copy of that notice to the Florida Department of Financial Services must be provided within 3 years from the date of the incident that caused the injury. Then the state has 6 months to review, accept, or deny the claim.
In any situation where there is a potential claim against the state or a state government entity, it is imperative that you consult with a justice attorney with experience in handling these types of cases. Many civil justice attorneys do not charge any fee for an initial consultation.
A civil trial attorney with the firm Wooten & Kimbrough, P.A., Mr. Damaso concentrates on cases involving personal injury and wrongful deaths and solely represents individual victims and consumers. He takes his clients' cases personally and is committed to their best possible outcome. His strong sense of community has led to his support of numerous charities in the Orlando area.