Detour May Have Played Role in Fatal Tour Bus Accident

The driver of a charter bus involved in a deadly collision with a train was taking a detour, rather than following company directions. railroad

It’s plausible that any future bus accident lawsuits stemming from this case could point to this as a central issue in asserting negligence. The reason is that while the alternate route he found on a GPS setting for commercial vehicles may have been faster, it failed to take into account the difficulty in crossing the tracks. This issue proved fatal because the bus got stuck on the tracks as a train approached.

Already, two lawsuits have been filed by relatives of decedents killed in the crash. Their claims name as defendants:

  • The bus driver (for negligent operation of a commercial vehicle, including failure to follow traffic signs);
  • The bus driver’s employer (for vicarious liability, as well as direct liability for negligent hiring and negligent supervision);
  • The railroad company (for allowing an “ultra-hazardous condition” to exist at the crossing).

According to CBS News, the National Transportation Safety Board reports that two other buses were also on the same original route, provided by a Florida-based tour group heading to a cluster of casinos on the Gulf coast of Mississippi. The three buses were slated to leave around the same time. The bus involved in the crash was operated by a separate tour company, based in Texas.

Wrongful death lawsuits began to be filed right away as more details emerged about the crash, which happened in Biloxi on a humped rail crossing. A camera on the train captured images of the bus just before and immediately after the crash. However, investigators with the NTSB haven’t offered any extensive detail about what those pictures showed. Further, investigators are still waiting to interview the bus driver, who survived the collision.

The bus was carrying a full load of senior citizens when the vehicle allegedly became stuck on the crossing. The driver started yelling for passengers to get off the bus immediately. One passenger noted that the driver stayed with the bus, and while several passengers did manage to scramble out in time, not everyone did.

The collision occurred at the start of what was intended to be a week-long trip organized by a Texas senior center.

Among the personal injury lawsuits filed so far, a husband and wife who survived alleged they will likely endure physical pain, suffering and mental anguish for the rest of their lives. Their exact injuries were not detailed in the initial filing.

Another lawsuit was filed on behalf of a son whose 79-year-old mother was killed in the bus accident. She was one of two people who died. He is seeking a minimum of $1 million in damages. Both decedents are from Texas.

Complaints against the railroad company cited previous reports that tractor-trailers had bottomed-out on those same tracks, which had a particularly steep grade. At that same crossing, a tractor trailer was struck in August 2014 and a soft drink delivery truck was hit in January of this year. There is a “low clearance” warning sign at the crossing, which shows an image of a tractor-trailer stuck on the tracks. However, plaintiffs allege the railroad company knew this site was especially hazardous and failed to take action to remedy the danger.

Contact the Carolina injury lawyers at the Lee Law Offices by calling 800-887-1965.

Additional Resources:

Tour bus hit by freight train in deadly crash didn’t take planned route, March 9, 2017, CBS News

More Blog Entries:

Compensation for Crash Involving Work Van, March 8, 2017, Charlotte Bus Accident Attorney Blog

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