Fatalities and injuries on private charter buses, which have long been considered a safer form of transportation than cars and planes, are on the rise. A tour bus returning to San Francisco from Yosemite National Park ran off the highway and plunged into a ravine, injuring 27 of the 30 people on board. But this was not an isolated accident.
Dedicated Private Bus Accident And Injury Representation
Across the country, there are up to 4,000 private motor coach companies. The industry has expanded by 5 to 7 percent over the past six years, mainly because of the spread of casinos, a top destination for buses. Similar to the airline and trucking industries which were deregulated in the 1970s and '80s, the charter and tour bus business has seen a proliferation of hundreds of new companies, including fly-by-night operations that lack the resources to maintain safe equipment and properly train employees. For the most part, these companies are nonunion operations where workers lack the slightest protection against work overloads and long, irregular hours, two factors that contribute to fatigue and accidents.
The transportation injury attorneys at Walkup Melodia, Kelly & Schoenberger have successfully represented injured passengers on commercial busses throughout the state, obtaining million dollar recoveries against Greyhound, Continental Bus lines and other private carriers. And in addition to poor drivers, private charter busses also incorporate dangerous safety flaws: most lack seatbelts. Bus companies have strenuously opposed seat belts because they would have to refit older buses with stronger—and more expensive—seats and floors. Bob Francis, Government regulators have not forced bus companies to install seat belts on the grounds that it would be too expensive in the fiercely competitive tour bus industry.
Private And Charter Bus Issues
- Casinos establish joint ventures with bus companies to ship as many as people as possible into their gaming rooms, with little or no concern about safety. They often target the retired and senior citizen populations who generally lack other forms of recreation and stimulation. While it follows logically that the elderly require even greater safety precautions than other passengers, neither the bus companies nor the casinos are willing to pay the cost. Investigators say the victims where thrown from the bus and then crushed when it rolled on them. A witness who was on the bus says seat belts would've saved them.
- In 1999, Greyhound's chief operating officer told Congress that busses are the safest mode of transportation. He said "seats belts are not required because ... no testing to date has demonstrated that they are likely to save more lives and prevent more serious injuries than they would cause."
- But the federal government doesn't crash-test this kind of bus. They crash test school busses and their tests show there is some benefit to seat belts, enough that new school busses in California are required to have them.
Extensive Experience With Devastating And Complex Cases
Our bus accident and transportation team at Walkup, Melodia, Kelly & Schoenberger successfully recovered wrongful death damages in the amount of $1,139,700 on behalf of the seven adult children of a sixty year old mother killed when the bus she was taking from Arizona to Mexico experienced brake failure as it descended a freeway off ramp in Phoenix. The high speed crash also killed the driver and severely injured several other passengers. The bus company had a principal place of business in Los Angeles, and the lawsuit was successfully filed and kept in Los Angeles Superior Court.
Shortly after the lawsuit was filed the defendant company declared bankruptcy. Plaintiffs obtained a relief from the bankruptcy stay by stipulating that the amount of any recovery would be limited to the amount of the insurance policy limits of 5 million dollars. As the case progressed through discovery, the bankruptcy attorney for the Trustee filed an interpleader claiming that the insurance proceeds were assets of the estate. Our attorneys immediately recognized that the interpleader, if unopposed, would significantly diminish the policy limits because bankruptcy laws gave the Trustee and the bankruptcy attorneys priority of payment over the injury claimants, and filed an opposition to the interpleader complaint. The settlement was negotiated while a ruling on the opposition was pending.
"I have a bus on its side and bodies everywhere!" reported REMSA Careflight pilot Paul Milton as he approached the scene of a tour bus accident on Interstate 80 in the Sierra Mountains, roughly halfway between Truckee, CA, and Reno, NV. A Coach USA charter bus carrying 40 passengers en route from San Francisco and Sacramento to casinos in Reno and Sparks, NV, lost control on a downhill rain-slicked curve. The bus struck the right-hand guardrail on the exit ramp, rolled over and down onto a sandy embankment, finally coming to rest on its left side. Two were killed, more than 30 injured.
Contact Our Legal Team Now For Help
If you or a loved one have been injured in a charter bus accident the transportation specialists at Walkup are the attorneys for you. Call us at 415-906-3764 or email us today for a free, no obligation, appointment at your home or in our office to discuss your legal rights.