Jones Brown reported on the bus crash that took place in September involving the Cleveland Elementary 5th Grade field trip to Sea World. While the class was driving through Lampasas, Texas, the bus driver lost control, wrecked and rolled the bus multiple times.
There were 25 students and three faculty members on the bus at the time of the accident. According to Norman Public Schools, five students and two faculty members were hospitalized immediately. All 28 students and faculty were potentially injured to some degree. Some had severe and what will likely be long-lasting injuries. According to News 4 out of OKC, one student will be in need of brain surgery.
In a letter to parents, Norman Public Schools has stated that they are only insured for $1 million dollars for the crash through the Oklahoma Risk Management Trust, and each individual claim can only recover up to #125,000. The letter went on to state that because of the medical bills that the parents have already handed in looking for reimbursement, and the potential for more bills to come, “Norman Public Schools and Oklahoma Schools Risk Management believe that the coverage limits of $1,000,000 will be exhausted.” meaning that there will not be enough money to cover everyone’s bills.
Due to this fact, Norman Public Schools and Oklahoma Schools Risk Management Trust filed an interpleader suit in Cleveland County Courthouse Tuesday, naming those involved in the crash as defendants, The move essentially freezes any insurance payouts, and leaves the decision of how to divide that $1 million up to the courts. NPS and OSARMT will give the entire $1 million to the court system, accepting full liability. According to the lawsuit, the court will appoint a “special master” to decide how much in damages should go to each claim until the money runs out.
After that, it will up to the families of the victims to come up with the funds to pay what is left.
Norman Public Schools released the following press release:
“The district has coverage up to the maximum limits provided by Oklahoma law and that is $1,000,000 dollars in coverage but Oklahoma law limits the amount that can be paid to any one claimant to $125,000. Precisely because the district has liability and there will be multiple claims, the district’s insurer decided to use an interpleader process to pay the money into the court so that all claims can be received and apportioned up to the maximum of coverage.”
Attorney Gavin Isaacs told News 4 that a situation such as this will not resolve itself quickly.
“They need lawyers,” Isaacs said. “This is one of those situations where they need lawyers.”
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