Biloxi, Mississippi was recently the site of a harrowing accident. A bus, carrying passengers from Texas, many of them senior citizens, was struck by a train. The bus was stopped, and stuck, on the train tracks. The driver was able to open both the front and back doors and let some passengers off, however, many of the passengers were unable to escape in time. The accident left four passengers dead, and several others with severe injuries. The National Transportation Safety Board has stated that this particular crossing has had at least 17 vehicle and train collisions occur since the year 1976.
Lawsuits Filed Over the Accident
Since the event, two surviving passengers of the accident have filed lawsuits against the bus operator, Echo Tours & Charter, and the railroad operator, CSX Transportation. The complaint alleges that the bus driver failed to heed the warning sign near the track of a "humped" crossing, which could have alerted the driver to the potential of getting stuck at the crossing. In addition, the complaint further claims that the train did not apply brakes in time to avoid the collision, and also that the crossing itself was not designed properly and safely. The lawsuit cited a collision with another truck that had occurred two months earlier to back up this claim. Other claims also assert that the crossing itself was "ultra-hazardous and dangerous" because of its steep grade.
In addition to the lawsuit, the National Transportation Safety Board is running its own investigation into the accident. The organization has reported that the driver of the bus involved in the accident was part of a three-bus convoy, but was following different directions from a separate GPS when the crash occurred. The driver, who remains unidentified, is being sought out for the lawsuit, as well as for insight into the NTSB investigation.
The lawsuits filed include claims for mental anguish, wrongful death, and injuries. The plaintiffs seek both actual and punitive damages against the organizations for negligence. One family also seeks a temporary injunction against the bus and train companies to prevent any tampering or destruction of evidence, such as black boxes, recordings, and the train and bus engines.
Public Transportation Accidents
While accidents on public transportation are rarely this catastrophic, chances of tragedies like this one occurring can be reduced by drivers and companies using a greater level of care. Under the law, public transportation companies, like a bus company, are often considered to be common carriers. Common carriers owe a high degree of care to their passengers, who depend on them to get from point A to point B safely. If there are injuries as a result of a failure of the public transportation company to exercise reasonable care, then the company may be liable for damages.
If you or a loved one has been injured in an accident involving public transportation, please do not hesitate to contact the legal professionals at Gilman & Bedigian today. Our experienced and knowledgeable attorneys represent clients in Maryland, Pennsylvania, and the District of Columbia.