To the Editor:
To any of the parents whose children were riding the Carrollton schools bus Nov. 19 that was involved in an accident with my family’s car in Augusta, I sincerely regret that you and especially your children had to go through the experience.
I hesitate to write this letter as my intent is not to disparage anyone, however, people should be made aware of the potential for a huge disruption in their lives should they be involved in an accident with a vehicle belonging to Carrollton Exempted Village Schools.
It was a typical school day; I had just picked my son and daughter up at school as they do not ride a bus. We decided to stop at Grandma’s house in Augusta on the way home. As I was making a right hand turn into my parents’ drive, the world was turned upside down when helplessly our Ford Expedition was struck from behind by a bus and came to rest facing the opposite direction.
A lot of the glass from the rear window came into the car on my 8-year-old daughter, but miraculously neither one of the kids was hurt. After confirming that everyone was alright we set out flares on the road and waited for the authorities to arrive.
I was aware that insurance information needed to be exchanged, and all relevant documents provided to the patrolman on the scene. After about two and a half hours the highway patrolman was done and the vehicles were cleared and we were able to go home. It seemed strange at the time when the patrolman at the scene told me he was not able to get a contact phone number for the insurance company of the school, but he did say he would call me with the information later that evening.
The officer did call back but only had the name of the insurance Company, Schools of Ohio Risk Sharing Authority, and said that they would probably contact me the next day as the driver of the bus had been cited for “assured clear distance”.
Three days passed without a phone call, therefore I decided to call the school at which point I obtained a phone number for the insurance company. The person I spoke with proceeded to tell me that they were invoking the “Sovereign Immunity” clause of the Ohio Revised Code.
This basically means that their client was not required to cover any damage to my vehicle. “Don’t worry though, Mr. Baker, your collision insurance will pay for the damage and we will pay your deductible, have a nice day,” said the perky voice on the other end.
If I was the Sovereignty, (Carrollton Exempted Village Schools) claiming Sovereign Immunity I would have at least made a phone call apologizing for the incident. Apparently when the law protects you, public perception doesn’t matter. PR - the art of establishing a favorable relationship with the public.
Total bill so far, for the rental vehicle we’re using, roughly $1,100, estimate of repairs for our vehicle in excess of $13,000, fortunately we may have our car back in early January. Per FPS, bus driver’s fine was suspended.