You may remember the tragedy which took place in Las Vegas this past March that claimed the life of a fifth-grade girl. Back on the afternoon of March 16, the 11-year old was being dropped off in front of her neighborhood by a school bus. After she left the bus, it made a right turn and crushed her under its rear wheels. The youngster had just stepped off the curb into the street.
More developments in that case were announced this week. Metro Police have determined that the bus driver was not at fault in the bus accident, so she will not be charged with any crime. This finding implies that the girl should have not been in the street at the time of the incident.
But although this is good news for the bus driver, it does not mean that she or the Clark County School District are out of legal trouble. The family of the 11-year old girl could still file a wrongful death lawsuit against the bus driver or the school district.
That’s because the legal standard needed to prove criminal conduct is considerably higher than that which is necessary to show liability in a civil lawsuit. Whereas a defendant must be convicted "beyond a reasonable doubt," plaintiffs only have to show that a "preponderance of evidence" indicates that a defendant is liable in civil court. So it is entirely possible that a civil court jury would side with the family and not with the bus driver and/or the school district.
We’ll have to wait and see whether the girl’s family does file any type of lawsuit, and then see whether it is settled out of court or goes to trial.