How common are charter bus accidents in California?
In our last blog post, we reported on new safety measures for charter bus companies that were recently signed onto law by Gov. Jerry Brown. Last week came the stunning news of another deadly charter bus accident near Palm Springs.
This time, a tour bus that was headed to L.A. from a casino crashed into the back of big rig on Interstate 10 at Canyon Drive. Apparently, work was being done on I-10 and construction crews has been slowing traffic down. For reasons that have yet to be determined, the tour bus was travelling much faster than the truck before slamming into it. It is also unclear whether other factors, such as drugs, alcohol or fatigue, were involved in the crash.
It has been reported that most of the passengers were sleeping when the accident occurred: 13 were killed, including the bus driver, and 31 were injured; the driver of the big rig also suffered injuries. While injuries were slight to moderate, all are expected to recover. The Chief of the California Highway Patrol (CHP) described the accident as a “substantial impact” which saw the bus ram 15 feet into the back the big rig’s trailer.
Debris from the pre-dawn crash littered the highway, and fire department rescuers needed to use chainsaws to cut the bys open to get to the victims. Chief Jin Abele said he has not seen so many deaths in an accident during his 35-year tour of duty.
While the National Transportation Safety Board will be investigating the accident, it may take as long as 18 months before a final report is issued. Nonetheless, charter buses are governed by the common carrier law which requires bus operators to exercise a great degree of care to protect the safety of passengers. A charter bus operator that fails to meet this standard can be found negligent.
In this tragic accident, the cause of the crash remains to be seen. The bus driver may have been at fault, perhaps the brakes on the bus malfunctioned, or it could be that the brake lights on the big rig were not operating properly. Even though traveling by bus in Northern and Southern California is a safe way to travel, accidents can happen, often with devastating consequences. The experienced personal injury attorneys at the law firm of J&Y can help accident victims obtain meaningful compensation for their injuries.