Five people were killed earlier this month and five more were injured, some losing limbs, when a speeding bus veered off a central California highway and struck a sign pole that sliced the vehicle nearly in half.
Rescuers pulled out "bags of body parts" from the survivors of the crash. The bus was carrying about 30 people. It hit the pole head-on and sheared it through to the first axle. Some of the victims were ejected from the bus. Others had to be pulled out by rescuers who climbed through windows to reach trapped passengers. An investigation into the crash was on-going. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration listed the carrier as having a "satisfactory" rating in May.
In July, 13 people were injured when a double-decker tour bus slammed into a tree after running off a street and across a sidewalk on the eastern edge of Central Park in New York City. The bus driver said he was trying to avoid hitting a cab when the crash occurred, but a witness disputed that claim.
In mid-May a Texas tour bus headed to a casino crashed after the driver struck a curb causing the bus to skid off the road and rollover. Eight of the 50 or so passengers were killed. Even though the National Transportation Safety Board was still investigating how the crash occurred, within days of the incident, three lawsuits had already been filed. Attorneys suggested that in addition to the bus company, the casino where they were headed, could be liable for the deaths as well.
Earlier in May a Dallas attorney who specializes in high-stakes personal injury cases, won an $11 million lawsuit against an Oklahoma tribe which runs a casino. In 2013, a charter bus heading to the casino crashed, killing three passengers and injuring more than a dozen others.
Chartering a tour bus generally is safe, however, when an incident does occur, it may be more than the bus company that is liable for insurance claims and lawsuits.
Under federal law, a bus is considered a “common carrier,” a company that transports people and freight for a fee. As such, drivers are obligated to exercise a high degree of safety when transporting passengers. When a driver is negligent or the company fails to maintain the vehicle, and passengers are injured or killed, that can open up the company to liability claims.
It is not just the driver or the bus company who can be liable for a crash. As with the Oklahoma casino, the destination venue could be liable as well if an incident occurs enroute or once the passengers arrive. And, if it is public transportation, a municipality - such as a city government - could be liable.
An attorney specializing in personal injury law can help you determine whether your injury is the result of a wrongful act, defective vehicle or negligence.
If you suspect a loved one was harmed or died as a result of such an act, call the offices of trial attorneys Charles Gilman and Briggs Bedigian at 1-800-529-6162 or contact them online. The firm handles cases in Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Washington, D.C.