Riding on a bus is one of the safest ways to travel, however, when there is a major crash it can leave a devastating impact on the community. Several recent crashes did just that when numerous people were injured or killed.
Take for example a tragedy that took place in April, 2014. A tour bus carrying high school students on route to Humboldt State University for a tour, collided head-on with a FedEx tractor trailer truck in a fiery crash that killed 10 people and injured 31 others in Orland, California.
The FedEx had jumped the median on the Interstate 5 Freeway and crashed head-on into the charter bus. Both drivers died, three adults and five of the 44 students aboard the bus.
The same month and year in Anaheim Hills, California, a school bus transporting 11 El Rancho Charter Middle School students crashed into a tree near a golf course when its driver passed out behind the wheel due to the driver’s known and undisclosed medical condition that would have precluded his ability to obtain a commercial driver’s license.
Orange Unified School District bus driver Gerald Rupple, 25, was charged with multiple counts of child abuse and endangerment, perjury by declaration and causing great bodily injury and faces 19 years in state prison if convicted.
Just one year before these two crashes in February 2013, eight people died and dozens were injured when a tour bus under contract with Tijuana-based InterBus Tours left Big Bear and careened down a mountain road unable to stop due to brake failure. The bus carrying 38 passengers crashed into an oncoming Ford pickup truck killing its driver and seven others who were bus passengers in Yucaipa, California.
These are not typical bus crashes, but they are taking place more frequently on California freeways and when a major bus crash happens the outcome is often deadly. Many minor or moderate bus crashes may also result in significant injuries to bus passengers, pedestrians and bicyclists and occupants of passenger cars who collide with them.
Whether you are a passenger on a bus or you were in another vehicle involved in a crash with a bus, it’s important if you were injured to find help to file a legal claim immediately. Any delays could potentially hurt your case or diminish its value.
Liability for Bus Accidents
One of the most important jobs of a personal injury attorney is proving the responsible driver is at fault for a crash. In the case of a bus accident, there is an extensive investigation into the at-fault bus company’s driver including obtaining hours-of-service logs that are required by all commercial bus and truck drivers. These logs record how many hours a driver has been on the road and whether they are competent to be behind the wheel at the time of the crash. A driver’s track record and medical history may also be obtained as part of the investigation.
Also important is obtaining a bus company’s maintenance records. These will document the condition of the bus at the time of the crash. Did the bus company routinely inspect and service the bus to ensure passenger safety? What is the bus company’s history? Does their fleet of buses often have maintenance issues or frequent crashes? Do they hire drivers with the proper license for the vehicle they are driving and do their drivers have clean driving records or a history of crashes?
The driver’s cell phone records are also obtained to determine whether he or she was on a call at the time of the crash. These cell phone records are needed to help establish or prove fault.
Johnson Attorneys Group is a personal injury law firm with headquarters in Newport Beach, California with additional offices and meeting locations throughout California. Should you or a loved one be hurt in a bus accident, it’s important to act quickly to secure your legal rights and obtain the best possible outcome for your case. For help with a bus accident claim call 1-800-235-6801 to learn more about steps to take after a bus accident in California.
National Bus Accident Statistics
According to the most recent statistics compiled by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), the number of buses involved in fatal crashes dropped 8 percent in 2012 from 274 to 251 people killed. Additionally, the majority of these fatalities or 41 percent were school bus accidents, followed by transit buses with 34 percent and intercity buses with only 13 percent. Overall more than 11,000 crashes involving buses result in roughly 24,000 injuries every year. The crashes reported define buses as vehicles designed to transport nine or more people including the driver.
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