A former school bus driver is facing criminal charges for allegedly not disclosing a medical condition that made him prone to seizures and blacking out, after his medical condition resulted in a severe crash last year. According to KTLA, the bus driver was transporting a busload of students in Anaheim Hills last year when he blacked out, causing the bus to lose control down a hill, veer off the road and crash into trees. All children on the bus were injured, with four experiencing major injuries including broken bones, traumatic brain injury, shattered spines, and, in the case of one child, an amputated toe.
The school bus driver was working for the Orange Unified Student District. According to the Orange County District Attorney, the driver had failed to disclose to his employer that he has a medical condition that causes him to experience dizziness, seizures, and blackouts. He has been charged with child abuse and endangerment (a felony), and perjury, in addition to “sentencing enhancement for causing great bodily injury.” The driver could be facing 19 years in prison.
Whether the school bus driver lied about his medical condition in order to get a job as a bus driver is significant not only for his own criminal charges, but for liability his employer might face. As we have already explained on this blog, employers can be held liable for injuries caused by negligent or reckless acts of their employees if their employee’s negligent and reckless acts occurred while the employee was acting “in the scope of employment.” If the employer had, in this case, reason to know of the driver’s medical condition, it could be facing lawsuits from the injured students for negligently hiring an employee who was unfit to safely drive the students.