As the number of casinos on tribal lands continues to increase, more and more commercial bus operators are offering day-long, weekend, or even longer charters. Unfortunately, this increase in demand has led some charter operators to “cut a few corners” when it comes to vehicle safety.
In this post the casino charter bus accident lawyer at The Doan Law Firm reviews several recent “high profile” casino charter bus accidents and then discusses some of the legal issues related to who may be liable for damages following such accidents.
November 14, 2018: Mississippi, 2 dead and 44 injured
Two women passengers from the Huntsville, AL, area were killed when the driver of their charter bus lost control of the vehicle on an ice-covered overpass on Interstate 269 in Byhalia, MS. Witnesses to the accident said that the bus rolled onto its driver-side before coming to rest in the highway’s median. An additional 44 passengers were reported to have been injured and had been transported to area hospitals.
A press release issued by the Mississippi Highway Patrol stated that the bus was registered by Teague VIP Express of Anniston, AL and was enroute to a casino in Tunica, MS when the accident occurred. According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) website, Teague vehicles had not been involved in an accident in the 24 months prior to the Byhalia accident although there were unconfirmed reports that the company had previously been cited for safety issues.
September 18, 2017: New York, 3 dead and 17 injured
Kum Gang Tours, Inc. aka/dba Dahlia Group Inc., was the owner of a casino charter bus whose driver ran a red light in New York City’s Flushing neighborhood and plowed into the back of a city bus — killing the charter bus driver and two others – and injuring an additional 17. It was later discovered that the bus driver, Raymond Mong, was a previously-convicted drunk driver and should not have been permitted to drive.
According to published sources, the company that owned the bus was no stranger to both the state and federal Departments of Transportation. The New York Daily News has reported that, since the Flushing accident, the company’s drivers have been cited 13 times, in multiple neighboring states, for violations such as driving more than 15 mph above the posted speed limits and keeping false drivers’ hours in service records.
March 7, 2017: Mississippi, 4 dead and 41 injured
A charter bus carrying 49 passengers on a weeklong trip to casinos in Louisiana and Mississippi, including  from the Bastrop (TX) Senior Center, became stuck at a railroad crossing and was struck by a CSX Railroad freight train. Four passengers were killed and an additional 41 were injured. The charter bus was operated by Echo Tours and Charters LP of Dallas, TX. According to published reports, the company’s vehicles had been involved in 6 reported accidents in the previous 2 years and also had 24 citations filed against the company and/or its drivers.
The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) later determined that a lack of communication between the City of Biloxi and CSX was “probably” why the roadway at the crossing was left at a height that caused the bus’s undercarriage to become stuck on the railroad track before the fatal collision.
October 23, 2016: California, 13 dead and 31 injured
A charter bus returning to the Los Angeles area from a day trip to the Red Earth Casino near Salton City in the early morning hours of October 23, 2016 hit the rear of a non-moving tractor-trailer rig at an estimated speed of 75 miles per hour. The accident killed 13, including the bus driver, and injured another 31.
Investigators from the California Highway Patrol (CHP) and the NTSB later determined that CHP officers had briefly stopped traffic on Interstate 10 to assist workers who were relocating power lines. Among the vehicles that were stopped was a tractor-trailer rig being driven by Bruce Guilford. It was later determined that Guilford, whom CHP investigators said was in violation of federal driver on-duty/off-duty regulations, fell asleep behind the wheel and his rig remained stopped after normal traffic flow resumed.
The bus owner/driver, Teodulo Elias Vides, himself had only about 4 hours sleep in the 30 hours prior to the accident and that this sleep deprivation caused a delay in his ability to recognize that the tractor-trailer rig was not moving. Guilford was later indicted in Riverside County on multiple charges, including 13 counts of felony negligent vehicular homicide.
How these bus accidents are handled by lawyers
In each of the cases mentioned above, driver error appears to have been the primary factor that led to a multi-fatality accident and, with the exception of the most recent case, driver fatigue or gross carelessness will probably lead to wrongful death and personal injury lawsuits being successfully filed against the bus driver and the driver’s employer. However, if a bus company was lax in its duty to provide a safe vehicle and a safe driver for public use, that company may not have had the minimum amount of liability insurance required by federal and state law.
Regardless of the bus company’s insurance status, if multiple lawsuits are filed over the same accident there will probably not be enough coverage to satisfy all the claims made and/or judgements returned. Should this be the case, all claims and other actions will be settled on a “first come” basis. It is thus in an accident victim’s best interest to file a lawsuit as soon as possible after the accident with the help of an experienced personal injury lawyer.
Contacting a Casino Charter Bus Accident Lawyer
If you or a family member were injured while aboard a casino charter bus accident, we invite you to contact our casino charter bus accident lawyer to discuss the circumstances or your injury and to review the actions that may be available to you so that you can secure a fair compensation for your injury and other losses.
When you contact our firm, you case review is always free of any charge and does not obligate you to hire us to manage your potential charter bus injury lawsuit. Should you decide that you would like us to represent you in court, we are willing to assume full responsibility for preparing your case for trial in exchange for a percentage of the final settlement that we will win for you.