There are many members of the clockwork that make a school function smoothly. From teachers to aides to counselors, everyone plays a role. This includes bus drivers who transport the students safely to and from school each day.
What happens when tragedy strikes and one of those crucial members is killed on the job?
That’s what happened to 66-year-old Sandra Goodman, a bus driver for Landmark Christian School in Fairburn, Georgia on August 27, 2021.
Goodman was found dead in the parking lot on Friday afternoon around 3:30, following a “tragic accident,” according to police officials. They believe she may have stepped off the bus while it was still in gear, when it rolled forward, pinning her beneath a wheel. She was killed instantly.
Police conducted a thorough investigation. Even though the bus was only 2 years old, the Georgia Department of Public Safety inspected it twice. No mechanical issues were found.
Before the incident, Goodman had texted Landmark’s transportation director to report issues with her emergency brake. When the director called to check in, Goodman didn’t respond. However, no issues with the brake were found when GDPS did their safety inspection.
In a statement, Head of School Jason McMaster explained that Goodman had come out of retirement 2 years prior to work for their private school. Before retiring, she had worked as a bus driver in the Fulton County School system for 30 years. All of the students loved her and she was well-respected on the job.
“Please pray for the family and respect their privacy during this difficult time,” McMaster said. “Our hearts are broken as we share in this loss with them. We will be doing everything we can to love and support them through this.”
Fairburn Mayor Elizabeth Carr-Hurst stated:
“We are deeply saddened to hear of your great loss. Our prayers and condolences are with all who are affected by this tragedy. Please know that we the City of Fairburn are with you during this difficult time.”
Workers’ compensation for bus drivers and public transit workers
This tragic accident was a horrific twist of fate. Our thoughts and best wishes go out to Goodman’s surviving family members.
While this case was unusual, injuries for bus drivers and other public transit workers are not uncommon.
Many injuries can result from the extremely diverse tasks that public transportation employees are required to perform each day. For example, public transit drivers can be exposed to numerous hazards including repetitive stress injuries and other exposure-related illnesses. Yet, the most common injury among public transit workers is without a doubt vehicular accidents.
As you would expect, a broad list of injuries can result from even a minor collision. These include broken bones, whiplash, back and neck injuries, traumatic brain injuries and many other potentially damaging conditions. Even if you have been told that you were at fault for the incident, you are still entitled to workers’ compensation for an injury that occurred during your employment.
What to do if you are hurt as a bus driver
The first priority whenever an injury occurs is to seek medical attention as soon as possible. In doing so, make sure you carefully document any care you receive and any expenses you incur. Having proof of these expenses and outcomes could prove crucial if you later need to prove the existence of an injury.
In Georgia, the statute of limitations for filing a workers’ compensation claim is 1 year. This is an important number to keep in mind because it is shorter than the 2-year statute of limitations that applies to most personal injury cases.
If you’ve been injured on the job, it’s important that you speak to an experienced workers’ compensation attorney right away. This is the best way to protect your rights and ensure you receive the compensation you deserve. If a loved one was killed while performing work duties, the surviving family members may be entitled to death benefits.