Buses are widely considered to be one of the safest ways to travel–second only to commercial flights. Because of the low cost, safety, and convenience of buses, many people choose this form of transportation both on a daily basis and for long-distance travel.
When you board a bus, you should be able to trust that the bus driver is qualified, well-trained, and will drive safely, as well as that the bus is in proper working order. Unfortunately, bus accidents do occur and passengers–as well as other motorists–can sustain serious injuries. According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), there were approximately 68,000 bus crashes in 2014 alone in the United States, which led to an estimated 22,000 injuries and 281 deaths.
The recent bus accident in Texas demonstrates just how devastating a single bus crash can be.
Bus Driver Loses Control in Laredo, TX
On May 14th, a charter bus heading north on Highway 83 near Laredo suddenly rolled over, causing catastrophic results for passengers. Seven passengers died at the scene of the accident and one additional passenger was later pronounced dead from their injuries at the hospital. 44 more people–including the bus driver–were taken to nearby hospitals for necessary medical care due to injuries sustained in the rollover crash. Overall, communities in Webb County and Dimmit County were left in shock after one of the worst bus crashes in the state in years.
Families of the deceased victims are likely left wondering who can be held accountable for this tragic and unexpected loss. Injured victims may be wondering who is going to cover their medical bills and other losses they incurred as a result of the crash. The good news is that the law allows people in this situation to seek compensation from those who were responsible for causing the accident.
Liable Parties in Bus Accidents
Several different parties can be held liable for losses resulting from bus accident injuries and deaths and it is essential to determine all parties who may have been at fault in the accident. Some parties commonly involved may include:
- The bus driver for making negligent errors while operating the bus;
- The bus company for negligent hiring or failing to maintain buses in the fleet;
- The bus maintenance company for failing to properly repair or inspect a bus;
- The bus manufacturer for selling defective bus parts that malfunction and cause a driver to lose control.
Once you have determined the party that was at fault, you can initiate a claim against them to recover for your losses. Identifying which party was negligent in causing the crash can be extremely technical and challenging, so it is critical to have an experienced accident attorney who understands bus accident cases on your side throughout the entire process.
What Caused the Recent Bus Crash?
According to news reports, no other vehicles were involved in the recent Texas bus accident, though it was raining and the driver lost control of the bus. Because of the size, weight, and high center of gravity of a bus, coupled with the fact the there are numerous lives at stake, bus drivers are held to very high standards when it comes to safety–higher standards than drivers of small passenger vehicles. Though the exact cause of the bus driver losing control is still under investigation, the following are some common mistake that bus drivers can make that could cause them to lose control:
- Distracted driving;
- Over-correcting the steering;
- Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol;
- Driving while fatigued;
- Failing to account for road or weather conditions;
- Violating any state traffic laws;
- Violating any regulations enforced by the FMCSA.
If investigators determine that the bus driver made a negligent error that led to the crash, the driver may be held liable for the accident. In addition, a bus company can often be held responsible for the negligent actions of its driver. The company can also be liable if it negligently hired an unqualified or dangerous driver, allowed an untrained driver to operate the bus, or failed to take action if it knew a certain driver may be dangerous.