Bus repair records under scrutiny after fatal crash
There have been several high profile bus crashes in the last 60 days that leaves one wondering about the safety of the charter bus industry.
Over the weekend, an out-of-control bus crashed in California killing eight and injuring dozens of others. Many of the injured suffered horrific injuries including a broken neck and fractured vertebra. The bus was carrying a group from Tijuana, Mexico to Big Bear Lake in San Bernadino Mountains for a weekend of skiing.
In Boston, a tour bus that had taken a group of aspiring college students to visit Harvard University crashed into a overpass, injuring 35 people. One person was critically injured in the bus accident and several people are listed in serious condition.
Victims of the late-December Oregon bus accident are still trying to recover from their injuries. In that December 30th bus accident, 9 people were killed and 39 people were injured. Several of the victims and their families have filed a negligence lawsuit against the bus company and its driver in the aftermath of that accident.
Investigation into the Three Bus Accidents
The National Transportation Safety Board is charged with overseeing the investigation into all three accidents.
- In the California bus accident, investigators will look to determine whether the bus driver was speeding at the time of the accident and whether there was mechanical failure of the brakes. Records indicate that, while the bus company had no accidents in the past two years, that 36% of random inspection found that their buses had brake or tire problems, which is higher than the national average of 21%.
- In the Massachusetts bus accident, early signs point to driver error as the overpass is marked with NO TRUCKS OR BUSES. The bus driver may have been unfamiliar with the roads and one report said that the driver had looked down at the GPS and when he looked up, he could not avoid hitting the bridge. In Boston, many of the historic roads have low clearances and drivers may not be aware of them if they solely rely on GPS for navigation.
- In the Oregon bus accident, preliminary investigations by both the U.S. DOT and the Canadian Ministry of Transportation found that the bus driver was driving too fast for prevailing icy road conditions and that he had worked more than the prescribed 70 hour work week.
Is Travel by Bus Safe?
Historically, travel by bus or motorcoach has been a very safe mode of transportation. In the years between 1996-2005 there were 48 fatal bus accidents with approximately 14 people being killed per year.
Federal Safety Inspectors do spot inspections on buses and look for bald tires, bad brakes, leaks in the engine bay and bad drivers.
In the above listed accidents, driver error may have been a contributing factor in each of the accidents. Drivers are required to keep a logbook to make sure they do not driver more hours than is allowable by law. Failure to properly keep a logbook may be a sign of negligence.
When is a Bus Accident Negligence?
Commercial bus drivers are held to higher standards than other drivers. To prove negligence a skilled accident attorney will need to look at some of the following elements:
- Bus Driver Training & Licensure - the bus driver must have proper training, valid licenses and qualifications to be driving the bus.
- Bus Driver's Driving History - a company could be liable under "negligent hiring or entrustment" if the bus driver had a previous history of tickets and accidents or other factors such as poor medical health and eyesight.
- Negligent Supervision - did the company have policies in place and supervision so that driver's are not driving fatigued or do they have policies in place where drivers are disciplined for not following policies.
- Excessive Weight - if the bus was carrying an excess of weight, this is one factor which could help prove negligent.
Bellevue Bus Accident Lawyer
This information is provided by The Farber Law Group, a law firm in Bellevue, Washington that represents clients who have suffered serious injuries due to bus accidents. We also represent the families of those who were killed with their wrongful death claims.
Call us at 1-800-244-9087 to schedule a free and confidential case evaluation.