April 23, 2013

Traffic Accident Investigation Suggests Commercial Bus Driver was at Fault in Fatal Charter Bus Crash

by Lebowitz & Mzhen

School bus and charter bus accidents happen with greater frequency than most people may suspect. Here in Maryland and across the United States, the tragic results of fatal traffic collisions involving buses can many times be magnified due to the ability of these large commercial vehicles to carry a great number of passengers. Furthermore, the opportunity for a highway or in-town bus accident is increased due to the fact that these large vehicles can be difficult to control under some kinds of adverse driving and weather conditions.

As Maryland personal injury lawyers, I and my colleagues are trained to help victims of car, truck and motorcycle wrecks recover damages resulting from injuries sustained in a traffic accident caused by another driver. When it comes to injuries or death resulting from a traffic-related accidents, the victim or his family should seriously consider retaining the services of a qualified car accident attorney, if only to understand their legal rights following such tragic mishaps.

Because most bus designs entail a high center of gravity, the dynamic stability of these huge commercial vehicles is nothing like that of a standard passenger sedan or sports model. With a rather tall overall height, charter buses in particular have a remarkably high center of gravity; when combined with their greater mass, these large vehicles can pose a real challenge to control in an emergency, even for the most experienced and professionally-trained drivers.

But operating these large and generally cumbersome commercial buses can take more than just driving skill to remain safe. Many times, a commercial bus accident can arise from the driver’s relative unfamiliarity with the local roads, which can be exacerbated by poor driving conditions caused by inclement weather or other external conditions.

Other factors can also cause a dangerous condition and result in the driver losing control of the vehicle. These instances can be caused by a failure of a critical mechanical system, such as the vehicle’s steering system or braking controls; and sometimes something as seemingly simple as a blown-out tire. In some cases of life-threatening or severe injuries resulting from a bus accident, it has been found that the bus line or company assigned to the maintenance of the vehicle failed to properly service one or more critical vehicle control systems, which later malfunctioned and caused the driver to lose control.

Of course, it is not uncommon for driver error to be blamed for a tragic school bus or charter bus crash. Such would seem to be the case very recently when an accident report cited driver error as the main cause of a fatal charter bus crash out it Texas. According to news reports, local accident investigators in northern Texas discovered evidence that pointed to driver error on the part of the 65-year-old driver of a Cardinal Coach Line bus, which crashed and killed three people just a couple weeks ago.

Based on news articles, the Texas Department of Public Safety announced that a preliminary investigation into the April 11 wreck found no specific defects on the charter bus that reportedly left the roadway and crashed into a nearby barrier. Instead, investigators had suggested that the driver was largely at fault in the crash, which resulted in the deaths of three people and the injury of another 40-plus passengers during a charter trip from Texas to an Oklahoma casino. Most all of those killed or injured were senior citizens.

Information provided by authorities indicated that the bus driver had been involved in a previous fatal accident while operating a bus for another charter company. In that incident, back in 1998, the driver apparently hit a Good Samaritan who was attempting to help another motorist by the roadside in the Dallas area. Although the Dallas County grand jury did not indict the bus driver on the charge of negligent homicide in 1998, the man and the company that employed him are still facing two negligence lawsuits.

Report: Driver responsible for bus crash that killed 3, injured dozens; NBCNews.com; April 22, 2013