Three Killed in 1-115 Bus Crash
A bus operated by a Los Angles County-area Executive Lines, Inc. ran off a rain-slickened section of I-115 in northern San Diego County and overturned late Saturday morning. According to the California Highway Patrol, 3 people were killed and 18 more were injured in the accident whose cause is still under investigation.
According to news media sources, the bus had departed the Los Angeles County area earlier Saturday morning and was enroute to Tijuana with a planned stop in San Ysidro when the accident occurred at about 10:20 a.m. Witnesses said the bus appeared to veer to the right, crossed the emergency parking lane, and then overturned several times as it crashed down an embankment. First responders said that although the bus was equipped with seat belts many passengers were ejected from the bus after it left the freeway and overturned. Under California law, commercial buses are required to be equipped with seat belts for the driver and each passenger. Passengers are responsible for wearing seat belts while the bus is in motion and parents or supervising adults are responsible for insuring that children’s seat belts are fastened.
Bus accidents are usually due to driver errors
A review of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s online database entries for Executive Lines, Inc of El Monte revealed that the company is authorized to operate as a “for hire” passenger carrier and has 7 authorized vehicles operated by 11 registered drivers. The same database does not record any “reportable” accidents involving any of the company’s vehicles and that none of its drivers had been charged with major safety violations within the previous 24 months. California Department of Transportation records for the company were not immediately available.
Although it is certainly possible that a mechanical failure or a tire problem caused the San Diego County accident, it is far more likely that the bus driver was driving too fast for the weather conditions present at the time of the accident. “Too fast for conditions” means that although a driver is obeying the posted speed limits, other conditions (such as rain, fog, smoke, or a dust storm) would have made traveling at a slower speed a safer choice. Since commercial drivers are trained to travel at slower speeds when faced with less-than-ideal conditions, a failure to slow down on rain-slickened pavement could be seen as negligence.
Contacting a California bus accident lawyer
Major commercial bus accidents on California highways are relatively rare. Since buses operate for hundreds of thousands of miles without accident, when an accident occurs it is often due to a factor that could have been eliminated had the bus company or its drivers not been negligent in bus maintenance or operation. With that said, we must call attention to a fact that is not well-known to the general public.
Federal regulations require operators of buses that are capable of carrying more than 15 passengers to carry a minimum of $5 million in accident liability insurance. However, regardless of the amount of liability insurance a bus company may carry, such insurance is per accident and not per passenger! This means that once the $5 million policy limit is reached the insurance carrier will not pay any additional claims. Since the courts will assign priority of liability claims on a “first filed / first awarded” basis, it is important that anyone who is injured in a bus accident file a claim as soon as possible after an accident in order to protect their right to receive compensation (payment) for their injuries.
Since it is most unlikely that an insurance company will offer any assistance to an injured bus passenger, or to the family of a passenger killed in a bus accident, you must turn to a California personal injury lawyer if you are to obtain justice. One such lawyer is the California bus accident lawyer at The Doan Law Firm, a personal injury law firm with offices located throughout the state.
When you contact our firm to discuss the facts in your California bus accident case, your case review and first consultation with out California bus accident lawyer is always free and does obligate you to hire our firm to represent you in court. Should you decide that a lawsuit is in order, and that you would like for us to act as your legal counsel, 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.