North Carolina Appellate Court Upholds Dismissal of Administrative Negligence Claims Following Death of Minor at School Bus Stop

Legal News GavelWhen an accident involves a public agency or government body, there can be complicated procedural rules regarding how the claim must be filed and which court or agency has authority to hear the dispute. As seasoned North Carolina car accident lawyers, the legal professionals at Maurer Law are prepared to help you ensure that you assert your legal rights through the appropriate channels.

In a recent decision from the North Carolina Industrial Commission, the court considered whether the Commission has jurisdiction over negligence claims that involve allegations about the operation of school buses. The defendant, an educational board for a city, appealed an order that the Commission entered denying their motion to dismiss a lawsuit alleging many different claims stemming from the death of a 14-year-old child who was hit by an oncoming vehicle when she was crossing the street to board a school bus.

Originally, the Commission concluded that it had jurisdiction over the matter, pursuant to the North Carolina Tort Claims Act, to oversee the plaintiffs’ negligence action against the driver of the school bus as well as their claims against certain identified members of the school administration board that alleged negligent design for the school bus pick-up system. These claims also included allegations stating that the school board was negligent in making routes for the school buses as well as in certain training, hiring, and staffing actions.

The Commission originally dismissed the claims pursuant to the defendant’s motion, and the plaintiff appealed. A full panel of the Commission reversed the decision, and the defendants appealed, stating that the claims alleging administrative negligence against the defendants should be dismissed because under the Tort Claims Act, the Commission only has jurisdiction to hear claims involving allegations of negligence against school bus drivers, transportation safety attendants, maintenance workers, and bus monitors.

On review, the appellate court agreed with the defendants, stating that the Commission did not have jurisdiction to hear the plaintiffs’ claims alleging administrative negligence. The appellate court reviewed substantial case authority in reaching this decision, including a North Carolina Supreme Court case. It also reviewed applicable statutes, which set out the situations in which the Commission has jurisdiction to preside over claims against school boards arising out of school bus-related operations. These bases do not include any claims involving administrative matters, such as decisions regarding bus routes or staffing. Instead, they provide the Commission with jurisdiction over claims involving mechanical bus defects and the negligent acts of a bus driver or bus monitor.

If you or someone you love has suffered injuries in a serious car accident or another type of accident, you may be entitled to compensation. At Maurer Law, we know that no amount of money can truly repay you for the pain and suffering that you have endured, but it can help you cope with the financial devastation. We will guide you through every step of the process, from gathering evidence to negotiating with insurance companies. To schedule your free consultation, call us at 1-844-817-8058 or contact us online to get started.

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