October 28, 2016 Category: Car Accident
A tragic California bus accident occurred when a tour bus rear-ended a big rig tractor-trailer at approximately 5:00 a.m. in the morning in the Palm Springs area. On October 23, 2016, a tour bus coming back from the Red Earth casino in Salton City carrying numerous passengers collided with the back of a tractor-trailer. Reports indicated that the freeway accident occurred as the driver of the tour bus was traveling at a high rate of speed. Unfortunately, 13 passengers on the tour bus died while many other passengers suffered serious injuries.
The accident is still being investigated by the California Highway Patrol but it appears the accident occurred at least in part by negligence of the tour bus driver. Dealing with the tragedy of a fatal bus, truck or car accident can take a lifetime for family members of persons who have died along with victims of accidents who survived while suffering life-long catastrophic injuries.
It is never too early to consult with an experience California accident lawyer to protect you and your families rights and have someone deal with finding out important facts about the accident while the victims try to treat their injuries and cope with their family losses.
Liability for Negligence Against a Bus Company
A bus, whether a tour bus, local bus or a long distance travel bus passenger carrier, has a duty of care to its passengers. A commercial tour bus company is considered a common carrier that takes on a duty to use reasonable care when transporting its passengers whether it is from a casino or a long distance trip to and from California.
The duties of common carriers such as tour buses or airplanes are often set forth regulated by government bodies which set forth standards that common carriers are to abide by when transporting members of the public. As opposed to an everyday driver, a common carrier has a responsibility to provide the highest degree of safety and care for both their passengers and the cargo they transport.
Moreover, if a bus or other carrier fails to warn a passenger of a dangerous condition related to the carrier such as a driver’s fatigue, lack of sleep or any mechanical problem with the bus or other vehicle, the carrier company can be held liable for the injuries related to such a failure to warn.
In order to successfully bring a claim in California against a common carrier, an injured party must provide that it was more likely than not that:
- The negligent driver owed a duty to the injured party;
- The defendant common carrier breached that duty (such as driving passengers at a high speed while fatigue or failing to pay attention);
- The breach of the duty was the proximate cause of the injuries to the claimant;
- The injured party suffered damages as a result of the conduct of the common carrier. (typically damages will include compensation for physical injuries, pain and suffering, emotional distress and past and future lost wages.)
Typically, negligence against a common carrier can be proved by showing the common carrier violated some regulatory statute or rule or by showing the common carrier failed to act reasonably in using the care and diligence expected of a reasonably careful bus, plane or ship operator.
In the Palm Springs bus accident case, media has reported that many of the injured and deceased were not wearing seatbelts. Federal Law does not mandate buses such a tour and greyhound buses to install seat belts. In some accident cases, a person who is injured while not wearing a seat belt may have their recovery diminished by their failure to comply with California’s seat belt law. However, a passenger on a tour bus who is injured and not able to use a seat belt cannot be precluded from obtaining full compensation on the grounds that they were not wearing a seatbelt.
California Tractor-Trailer Truck Liability
As indicated in the California article on the Palm Springs tour bus accident, the bus rear-ended a commercial truck on the interstate 10 freeway. In most cases, a party who rear-ends another vehicle is usually liable for negligence pursuant to the California Vehicle Code for driving at an excessive speed or failing to follow a vehicle at a safe distance. However, if a tractor-trailer is disabled on a highway for some reason, the driver has a duty to warn other drivers of the potential safety hazard of the disabled truck.
*Whenever a commercial motor vehicle is stopped upon the traveled portion of a highway or the shoulder a highway for cause other than necessary traffic stop, the driver of the stopped commercial motor vehicle shall immediately activate the vehicular hazard warning signal flashers as well as the placement of warning devices such as triangles.” CFR 392.22. At least 3 triangles are to be placed at intervals toward on-coming traffic.
If the investigation into the Palm Springs tour bus accident shows that the driver of the tractor-trailer truck has a disabled vehicle and failed to properly activate his vehicle warning signal flashes or place warning triangles outside of the truck, then the truck driver and trucking company may be liable as well for the tragic and fatal injuries suffered by the bus passengers.
If you or a loved one is injured or killed in a bus accident or any other vehicle accident, please call the offices of Glotzer & Leib, LLP for a free consultation. Our personal injury legal team will help you determine what rights and legal recourse you may have for the injuries suffered in an accident.
If you need help, our Los Angeles personal injury lawyers are available to help you whenever you need it.