Whenever a family suffers from a wrongful death or injury at the hands of another, it is a tragedy. But it seems that bus accidents and other mass transportation accidents appear to affect those families and the general public the worst. The communities of these families and all of America mourn the disasters where dozens of people needlessly die. The country is witness to yet another tragic deadly bus crash. In Phoenix, Arizona, a passenger bus carrying 21 people reportedly rear-ended a car and rolled over, leaving six people dead and 15 more injured in Phoenix.
This country has experienced a number of major tour bus accidents or chartered bus accidents in the last year. For example, in April, a bus tour group visiting California overturned in Soledad, California, 130 miles south of San Francisco on Highway 101, killing five people and injuring dozens more. Many from the group were French or French Canadians. Another California bus accident last October involved a casino-bound bus that flipped over north of San Francisco. Ten people were killed in that bus accident and nearly three dozen more were injured. And in Utah last year, a 56-passenger motorcoach flipped over and the roof of the bus separated from the body of the vehicle, killing nine people and injuring 43 more people. The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) which investigates the causes of these crashes found in the Mexican Hat, Utah crash the cause was the “driver’s diminished alertness due to inadequate sleep resulting from a combination of factors”.
Given the increasing traffic on roads today in this country, the number of accidents also appears to be on the rise. In an average year, more than 360 million passenger trips in the United States are taken by inter-city buses, totaling some 28 billion passenger miles, according to the National Safety Council. For example, in Chicago, the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) has approximately 2,000 buses that operate on about 150 routes and 2,273 route miles. Chicago buses provide about one million passenger trips daily and stop at more than 12,000 posted bus stops.
Buses certainly are a convenient form of public transportation – whether they be commuter buses, tour buses, airport shuttles, ski shuttle buses, casino buses or, of course, school buses. As common carriers, bus drivers and bus companies owe their passengers a greater duty of care in protecting them from harm. Bus driving takes special training and that training must be adequate. Buses also need to be checked regularly for safe operation.
Actions against a common carrier can involve the negligent conduct of the driver or inadequate training, or the condition of the bus itself such as improper maintenance or defective parts.
If you or a loved one has been involved in a bus crash, certain time periods are required to be followed in filing a lawsuit. These deadlines are called statutes of limitations. They vary from state to state and certain common carriers that are owned by governmental entities such as federal, state, county or city governments may have special notices that must be given before filing a lawsuit. These time periods can be very short.
If you are involved in a bus accident, be sure to contact the police. If you are able, take down the driver’s name, address, date of birth, driver’s license number and expiration date. Get his or her phone number. Get their insurance company’s information. Get the make, year, model, license plate number, expiration date, and vehicle identification (VIN) number of all vehicles involved in the accident. If the driver is not the owner of the vehicle, you will need all of this information of the owner of the vehicle. Be sure to get identification information of any passengers in any cars. Also, see if you can get the names, addresses and phone numbers of any witnesses to the accident. Even if the person will not offer the information, get that person’s license plate number. Note the road, weather, and lighting conditions.
Clifford Law Offices currently is handling several bus accident cases. In 2005, the tragedy of a University of Illinois student killed by a bus driver made national headlines. The firm filed a lawsuit against the Mass Transit District and its driver on behalf of the family of a freshman student from Deerfield who was killed while she was walking to her dormitory. The firm’s bus accident attorneys also represent a 15-year-old honors student from the west side of Chicago who was severely injured when a bus driver struck her at the curb then drove away. Clifford Law Offices also represents the family of an 81-year-old woman killed when a semi-trailer rammed the back of a tour bus in which she was sitting with dozens of other elderly people.
Robert Clifford – $24 million (Verdict): 8-year-old boy suffers permanent brain damage and motor impairment after he was struck by a CTA bus as he crossed the street in a school zone crosswalk
Kevin Durkin – $7 million: Woman in crosswalk struck by bus suffers permanent brain damage
Robert Clifford – $6.5 million: 55-year-old woman’s legs crushed by a CTA bus making too tight a turn in the crosswalk
Robert Clifford – $5 million: Jogger hit by bus suffers permanent injuries
Kevin Durkin – $1.2 million: Single female struck and injured by private bus
Craig Squillace – $374,430: 41-year-old passenger on bus thrown into air and lands on right heel, fracturing it, when bus hits a bump
Robert Clifford – $2.775 million: bus makes tight right-hand turn and pins 24-year-old woman against barrier; leg is degloved