FMCSA Ultimate Goal is to Make Bus Travel as Safe as Possible, Every Trip, Every Time
DALLAS, TX / ACCESSWIRE / September 7, 2016 / In May, a charter bus accident in South Texas killed eight people and injured another 44, according to a police report filed by the Texas Department of Public Safety.
The bus, owned by OGA Charters, was on its way to a casino in the Rio Grande Valley from Eagle Pass when it veered off the road about 42 miles north of Laredo. The bus then overturned, before coming to a complete stop. Although the exact cause has yet to be determined, weather may have been a contributing factor since it was raining at the time the accident occurred.
Seven passengers were pronounced dead at the accident site, and an eighth passenger was transported to a local hospital for treatment, before eventually succumbing to his injuries. The remaining passengers were treated at various hospitals around the area.
Law enforcement authorities did not disclose the names of the deceased passengers, the bus driver - who survived the crash - or those who suffered injuries.
What makes this bus accident troubling beyond the tragic loss of lives is the fact that the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) fined OGA Charters $1,990 in 2011 for violating pre-employment drug testing regulations, and for improper maintenance and repair of its vehicles.
Sadly, this South Texas bus accident is one of several recent bus crashes that have resulted in fatalities and injuries across the state.
Recent Bus Accidents
Comanche, TX - In February, a Texas prison bus was involved in a fatal collision with a pickup truck.
The Texas Department of Criminal Justice said the accident occurred near Gustine, which is 90 miles northwest of Waco. The prison bus, originating from Abilene, was hit by the pickup truck, which apparently ran a stop sign.
Twenty-three passengers in the bus, including two guards and 21 inmates suffered injuries, and were transported to local hospitals for treatment. The driver of the pickup – whose name was not disclosed – died at the scene. The guards and the inmates who suffered injuries were all treated and released.
Arlington, TX - In December 2015, a Greyhound bus was involved in an accident with an SUV that resulted in a fatality.
The accident happened at about 5:30 a.m. as the bus - carrying 40 passengers - was traveling on Interstate 30 from Dallas to Amarillo.
Authorities are still unsure about the exact cause of the accident, but Arlington Police believe the SUV struck a concrete barrier before veering into the path of the bus.
The driver of the SUV was killed in the accident, and 16 bus passengers suffered minor injuries. The injured passengers were all treated at local hospitals, and released that same day.
El Paso, TX - In November 2015, a fatal head-on collision occurred between a commercial tour bus transporting members of a band named The Ghost Inside, and a commercial truck.
The accident, which took place 15 miles east of El Paso on a two-lane desert road, killed Gregory Hoke, the driver of the commercial bus, and Steven Cunningham, the driver of the commercial truck.
The band members and their crew were all taken to a local hospital and treated for minor injuries.
Recent Legal Cases
Some recent lawsuits highlight the ways in which victims of bus accidents have won compensation from a third party.
Choctaw Casino Case - In May of this year, a Dallas jury awarded $11 million to the families of two women who were killed in a charter bus accident in Irving in 2013.
Alice Stanley, 83, and Paula Hahn, 69, boarded Cardinal Coach Lines, a commercial charter bus that originated in Bedford, TX, and was headed to Choctaw Casino in Durant, Oklahoma.
Eleven miles into the journey, the driver of the bus lost control, and the bus swerved through traffic, striking a barrier and causing the vehicle to roll over.
Stanley suffered injuries to her spine, ribs and right arm, and died 10 days later. Hahn was ejected from the bus, and died at the scene of accident.
Another passenger - whose name was not disclosed - also died as a result of the crash, and dozens more were injured. Multiple lawsuits related to the accident are still pending.
The jury awarded $4.9 million to Stanley's family, and $6 million to Hahn's family, finding that Choctaw Nation - which hired the bus - was legally responsible for the commercial bus and the actions taken by its driver.
Lawyers for Choctaw Nation plan to appeal, saying that the jury should not have been allowed to decide whether Cardinal Coach Lines or Choctaw Nation were legally responsible.
One of the lawyers for the plaintiffs said, "The jury found that officials with the Choctaw Nation made the decisions and set the rules and made the most money from this charter."
Fresno, CA Case - In December 2013, Greyhound reached a $2.1 million settlement in a lawsuit filed by the family of Tomas Ponce, who was killed in a 2010 bus accident.
Ponce was a passenger on a Greyhound bus that was involved in a July 2010 crash that occurred on Highway 99.
The Greyhound in which Ponce was riding struck a rolled-over SUV that was on the side of the road, killing him and another passenger on the bus. Three passengers in the SUV were also killed in the collision.
The lawsuit against Greyhound alleged that the Greyhound bus driver - James Jewett - was driving with excessive speed at the time of the accident, and that he failed to wear his corrective lenses, which compromised his ability to avoid hitting the SUV.
Greyhound also reached undisclosed settlements with the family of the other passenger who died, as well as with many of the surviving passengers who sustained injuries.
Bus Accident Prevention Measures
In an attempt to decrease the number of commercial bus accidents, the FMCSA has made inspection, repair and maintenance of these vehicles a top priority.
All drivers of commercial vehicles must complete a written inspection report at the end of each workday, and the report must include the make, model and year of the vehicle, as well as notate any defects that could compromise the safe operation of the vehicle or cause a mechanical breakdown.
Commercial vehicle owners must also confirm that defects are repaired, or explain why a defect does not require repair work. In addition, they must submit annual inspection reports that include brake inspections performed by certified brake technicians.
The FMCSA periodically conducts bus safety inspection sweeps throughout the U.S., most recently in 2013 in 13 states and the District of Columbia.
These 2013 safety inspections included bus inspections on brakes, lights and engines, and reviewing the credentials of commercial bus drivers to ensure that they possessed a commercial driver's license, were in compliance with medical requirements, and had the necessary hours-of-service.
Anne S. Ferro, an FMCSA Administrator said, "Rain or shine, at any given location, federal, state and local police are on the ground conducting bus safety inspections that ultimately help save lives. Our goal is to make bus travel as safe as possible, every trip, every time."
The organization estimates that it has conducted more than 4,000 commercial passenger bus inspections over the course of the past five years, and that roadside inspections increased 100 percent from 12,991 in 2005, to 25,705 in 2010.
Consulting With An Bus Accident Lawyer
Despite these preventive measures, however, commercial bus and truck accidents still occur, and often result in devastating injuries to drivers in smaller vehicles.
If the driver of a commercial vehicle has injured you or someone you love in a Texas accident, call the Bus accident lawyers at Eberstein & Witherite, LLP. Our lawyers are ready to discuss your case, and are available 24/7 to provide you with outstanding service and a free consultation. Call 1-800-878-2597 to get started.
SOURCE: Eberstein & Witherite, LLP via Submit Press Release 123