State Supreme Court Finds School Bus and Insurance Company Liable to Injured Student

The State Supreme Court in Delaware recently released its opinion regarding an accident that occurred on March 27, 2012. Evidently, a student was injured when she was struck by another vehicle as she was boarding a school bus. The student waited for the signal from the school bus driver to board as she was crossing the street, and as she did so, the third-party vehicle hit her.

The bus was insured by an insurance company, and the student brought a claim to receive personal injury protection (PIP) benefits. PIP benefits are an extension of car insurance that is supposed to cover medical expenses for those other than the insured when the insured causes an accident. They are often referred to as “no-fault” coverage because an injured party should be able to claim benefits whether or not the accident was the injured party’s fault.

The insurance company argued that they should not have to pay out these benefits because their insured was not at fault for the accident. However, the Superior and Supreme Courts disagreed. The courts cited the state statute that explains that these benefits should be applied “to each person occupying such motor vehicle and to any other person injured in an accident involving such motor vehicle, other than an occupant of another vehicle.”

The court went on to parse out the difference between school buses and other vehicles, ultimately finding that school buses are different from other vehicles. Students are directed to board and exit the bus when the bus driver believes it to be safe, and because of that the bus can be considered “involved” in the accident. Additionally, the court explained that even if the student was responsible in part for the accident, that does not negate her eligibility to receive the PIP benefits.

Automobile Insurance Requirements in New Mexico

Many states have mandatory “PIP” requirements; New Mexico is not one of those states. However, New Mexico has its own set of mandatory insurance requirements. In New Mexico, drivers are required to have auto liability insurance. Generally, in New Mexico, individuals are required to have at least coverage that protects up to $25,000 per person for bodily injury, $50,000 per accident for bodily injury, and $10,000 per accident for property damage.

Although insurance is required, sadly, many people still do not get the required insurance coverage, and therefore New Mexico insurance companies have to provide the option for insured motorists to participate in an “uninsured/underinsured” motorist coverage plan. Furthermore, insurance companies must provide an option for “MPC” coverage, which is medical payments coverage for the driver or passenger. This coverage allows the injured parties to have the insurance company cover reasonable medical expenses, regardless of who was at fault for the accident. Lastly, although it is not mandated by law, insurance companies will often provide collision and comprehensive insurance coverage. This will protect against damage such as fire, glass damage, and hail.

It is important that drivers know that even with these types of coverage, they may still incur costs associated with an accident. If you do not feel satisfied with the amount the insurance company has offered you, it may be advisable to bring a personal injury lawsuit against the responsible party or the insurance company directly.

Have You Been Injured in a Trucking or Bus Accident in New Mexico?

If you or a loved one has been injured in a bus or truck accident like the one above, your insurance payout may not be enough to cover your actual losses. If you have been injured because of the negligence of another party, you should strongly consider discussing a possible lawsuit with one of the dedicated attorneys at the Fine Law Firm. You may be entitled to monetary compensation for the injuries and pain and suffering you endured as a result of the accident. Contact an attorney at the Fine Law Firm today at 800-640-6590 to schedule your free initial consultation.

More Blog Posts:

The Importance of the Pretrial Stages in New Mexico Civil Legal Proceedings, New Mexico Personal Injury Lawyer Blog, May 4, 2016.

Court Issues Evidentiary Ruling Regarding Liability in Fatal Trucking Accident Regarding Expert Testimony, New Mexico Personal Injury Lawyer Blog, June 3, 2016.