In Dallas, most people will have encountered a “school zone” at some point, clearly indicated by signposting. School zones are protected areas, where differing laws and higher penalties for breaches of them apply.
Although many types of accidents can occur in school zones, including theft, assault, or accidents caused by dangerous equipment or building conditions, the majority of accidents in school zones are caused by vehicles. A tweet by the Dallas Police Department in August 2021 reported that within a two-week period prioritizing back-to-school enforcement, 244 drivers received citations in Dallas school zones.
If you or a loved one is injured in a school zone accident in Dallas, the experienced personal injury attorneys at The Lenahan Law Firm can outline your legal options and help you receive favorable compensation where grounds exist. Call us today at (214) 295-1008.
Within school zones, people are expected to exercise particular care due to the high activity levels of children, pedestrians, cyclists, and vehicles. The 2021 City of Dallas School Traffic Safety Guide outlines this expectation, stating, “the responsibility to provide safe walking conditions and safe habits among students is shared by parents, school authorities, government agencies and officials, and students themselves.”
As vehicles pose the largest danger to others in school zones, a few significant rules for drivers exist, including:
- A reduced speed of 20 MPH applies during the morning and afternoon pick-up and drop-off periods (indicated by signposting)
- Driver’s must not overtake a school bus whilst it is loading or offloading passengers
- Driver’s must give way at crossing signals and crosswalks
According to the Texas Department of Transportation, the most common causes of collisions in school zones are speeding, distracted drivers, and failures to give way. If you are injured as a pedestrian, see here for further useful information on your rights.
Offenses within school zones generally attract a higher criminal penalty. At a minimum, an additional fee of $25 is added to fines for any offense that occurs within a Dallas school zone, although for certain offenses, such as speeding, the fine is doubled. As well as facing criminal liability, a person who injures another in a school zone, such as by a car crash or through assault, can be liable civilly.
In civil cases, the injured party sues the at-fault party to receive compensation for their injuries or loss. In traffic accidents, the injured party typically files an insurance claim first, and will only commence legal action if the settlement offer is insufficient or the claim is denied.
Compensation in civil cases depends on the extent of the injured party’s loss, which generally is not impacted by the offense occurring in a school zone. However, an experienced attorney may be able to establish why higher compensation is necessary.
Notably, whilst parents may wish to hold the school district liable for accidents where their child is injured whilst playing, or by dangerous building structures or equipment, the Texas Tort Claims Act protects the school and its employees from liability for all accidents except those caused by employees in a vehicle.
If you or your child is injured in a school zone in Dallas, The Lenahan law firm can determine whether grounds for legal action exist and help establish liability through gathering sound evidence and presenting strong legal arguments.
The Lenahan Law Firm continues to secure outstanding results for its clients in a range of personal injury matters, whether through settlements or at trial. Call us today for a free consultation at (214) 295-1008.