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School Zone Accidents

Tragically, over 100 children die annually during their walk to and from school, and over 25,000 kids are injured, according to the Transportation Research Board. As parents and teachers know well, mornings and afternoon dismissal are particularly hectic parts of the school day. Bus drivers try to corral a bus full of energetic children, caregivers rush to pick up kids and hustle them off to the next activity, while other young students are allowed to walk home independently. The process can be chaotic and, young children especially, can be unpredictable in their actions. Even when adults are doing their best to keep a watchful eye, car accidents in school zones do occur and can result in serious harm to the children involved. If you, or your child, have been the victim of a Rhode Island school zone accident, contact a personal injury lawyer at Tapalian Law as soon as possible to ensure your rights, and those of your child, are legally protected.

Rhode Island School Zone Laws

In 2016, Rhode Island enacted the Automated School Zone Speed Enforcement System Act. The law was intended to promote safety by allowing municipalities to place cameras near a school zone. A “school zone” is defined as anywhere within a one-quarter (1/4) mile radius of any type of school in the state. Motorists operating over the speed limit or otherwise recklessly in these areas may receive a citation and be fined.

The majority of school zones post speed limits between 15-20 miles per hour while school is in session and, in Rhode Island, the limit may be no greater than 20 miles per hour. It is critical for motorists to pay extra attention and heed changes in speed limits that occur near schools, daycares, or other child-centered locales to ensure the safety of pedestrians and other vehicles, including school buses, in the area. Accidents in these zones most often occur between the hours of 3:00 p.m. and 6:00 p.m. as students end the school day and adults are traveling home from work.

Attorney David Tapalian is a personal injury attorney in Rhode Island, Massachusetts, and Florida, with over two decades of experience helping people hurt in all types of accidents including auto accidents, pedestrian accidents, motorcycle crashes, and other vehicle collisions, as well as slip and falls, workers compensation, and more. Incidents involving injuries to young children can be particularly damaging and have life-long repercussions so it’s vital to have the right legal team on your side. If a child or adult is killed in a school zone because of a driver’s careless actions, the victim’s family may be eligible to file a wrongful death claim. No amount of renumeration can heal a family who experiences an unimaginable tragedy, but compensation may ease the financial burden for the family. Rhode Island Statute § 10-7-1 discusses the implications of death following an event such as a car accident. During a stressful injury or death, let a legal professional handle the legal aspects while you care for your family. Contact an accident lawyer at Tapalian Law for a free consultation about your or your child’s accident that occurred in a school zone or elsewhere in RI or MA.

Common Reasons for Accidents in School Zones
  • Distracted driving. When a driver isn’t paying attention, such as texting while driving, they can easily miss the designations of a school zone. Distracted drivers in a school zone are even more prone to hazards that can result in a deadly crash and, as a result, it’s imperative for drivers to focus on the road and maintain quick reflexes to avoid a Rhode Island school zone accident.
  • Speeding. Most school zones have decreased speed limits that occur suddenly. If a driver does not slow down with enough time to spare, they are at risk of hitting a pedestrian walking to or from the school or in a crosswalk.
  • Pedestrians. There are often multiple different crosswalks and a large group of people traversing the streets near school districts. With people coming from different directions, a driver may get confused or miss a pedestrian in their blind spot. Other pedestrians may dart into the street unexpectedly, and dangerously, without utilizing a designated crosswalk. 
  • Buses. Rhode Island students can also receive injuries when getting on and off school buses. Drivers are required by law to stop when a school bus is flashing their lights and must remain stopped until the lights turn off. This includes those that are driving toward the bus and those following behind it. 
  • Unsafe School Areas. Some schools may not have proper signage marking nearby crosswalks or designated decreased speed limits. Without a posted warning to drivers, it can be difficult for them to know they are approaching a school zone. It is beneficial for schools to hire trained crossing guards to help maintain the flow of traffic and minimize the risks associated with crossing the street in these areas. 
An Injury Attorney Can Help if You Were Hurt in a School Zone Area

If you or a loved one have been injured in, or near, a school zone by a negligent driver, you may be eligible to seek compensation for your damages. For victims of Rhode Island, Massachusetts, and Florida school zone incidents, an experienced accident lawyer at Tapalian Law can help. For over 20 years, Attorney David Tapalian has helped hundreds of clients successfully seek compensation for their injuries caused by another person’s reckless actions. With offices conveniently located in Providence, Seekonk, and Fort Lauderdale, we are easily accessible to residents throughout the area. If you are injured and can’t come to us, we will visit you in the hospital to discuss your accident case. There is no cost or fee to talk with us, and we only get paid when we win you money for your claim. To learn more about the next steps to take, call our personal injury team in Providence at 401-552-5000 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation.

Client Reviews
He took care of everything and kept me updated as well. It was such a smooth process and in the end I won my case. I would highly recommend David Tapalian! Patrice F.
When I contacted David Tapalian, Attorney & Counselor at Law, all my worries were immediately alleviated. He handled my case from beginning to end and kept me updated every step of the way. Susie M.
I visited David a couple of days after my accident and he gave me clear and concise details on what would happen throughout the process... David N.