An early morning accident on Interstate 30 near Benton, AR has claimed the life of a Memphis-area youth football league member and injured 45 other team members and their adult chaperones. Memphis-area news sources report that at least two of the injured passengers required hospitalization but that their injuries were not life-threatening.
The bus, which had been chartered from Scott Shuttle Service of Somerville (TN), was carrying members of the East Memphis Vikings, an elementary-age youth football team affiliated with the Orange Mound Youth Association, of Memphis. At the time of the accident, the bus was returning to Memphis after a football tournament in Dallas. The sole fatality was identified as Kameron Johnson, age 9, of the Memphis area.
At the time of the accident, the bus was being driven by 65-year-old Eula Garrett. Ms. Garrett was not charged at the accident scene, but she was reported to have told Arkansas State Police investigators that she had “lost control” of the bus in the moments prior to the accident. According to witnesses, and the Little Rock office of the National Weather Service, the accident happened under clear skies and there had been no recent precipitation in the area.
The Bus Company has History of Safety Violations
According to a report aired by television station KLRT of Little Rock, Scott Shuttle Service operates out of a private residence at 3040 Monk House Road in Somerville, TN and has a record with both state and federal authorities:
In November of 2017, a bus owned by Scott Shuttle Service was involved in a non-injury accident in Jackson, TN. The accident was investigated by the Tennessee Highway Patrol and no citations were issued.
In May of 2018, Scott Shuttle Service paid a fine of $3,490 after being cited for allowing a commercial vehicle to be driven by an operator who did not hold the proper license for that type of vehicle.
Also in May of 2018, the company was cited for minor safety violations as a result of a periodic, routine, safety inspection.
Laws Surrounding Bus Accidents
Charter buses are considered to be common carriers. Under federal law, a common carrier is any business that offers to transport passengers or cargo from one point to another in exchange for a fee. Common carriers are regulated by both federal and state agencies and it is these agencies that set regulations regarding safe operating standards that the carrier must obey. If an accident occurs and it can be shown that the carrier or its employees violated safety regulations, the carrier can be held liable for the consequences of any injuries and/or losses that are directly related to the accident. There is, however, a very important exception to liability that can arise if a government agency is the vehicle’s owner.
If the accident vehicle was being operated by a municipality, such as a city or a county, a local school district, or some similar publicly-funded agency, the operating agency will likely be protected by a legal doctrine known as sovereign immunity.
On the other hand, privately-owned charter bus operators do not enjoy such legal protection from lawsuits. If an injury occurs as the result of an accident involving a privately-operated charter bus, the operator will usually be held responsible unless it can be proven that 1) the bus, and its driver, were complying with all relevant laws and regulations at the time of the accident, 2) the accident was unforeseeable, and 3) the accident victim’s actions did not contribute to his or her injury.
Contacting a Charter Bus Accident Injury Lawyer
If you, or a family member, have been injured in a charter bus accident, we invite you to contact the charter bus accident injury lawyer at The Doan Law Firm, a national personal injury law practice with offices in major cities throughout the country.
When you contact our firm, you first consultation with us is always free of any charges and does obligate you to retain us as your legal counsel. Should you decide that you would like our charter bus accident injury lawyer to represent you in court, we are willing to assume full responsibility for all aspects of preparing your case for trial in exchange for a percentage of the final settlement that we will win for you.