The school year has only just started in the Chicago area, but there have already been several reports of dangerous school bus incidents.
Last Friday, a school bus driver was arrested and charged with driving drunk while on duty in West Chicago. Also last week, on Tuesday, two school buses were involved in a crash in Antioch, and on Saturday, at least eight children were injured when a school bus got into an accident on Lake Shore Drive in Chicago.
It is very fortunate that none of these bus accidents resulted in serious injuries.
In the most recent incident in Chicago, a school bus that was southbound on Lake Shore Drive struck a vehicle that was stopped in traffic. That vehicle then struck the car that was in front of it, and a police car rear-ended the school bus. Eight children were hospitalized with minor injuries as a result of the crash.
In the West Chicago incident, a drunk school bus driver was taken off the roads thanks to a sharp school employee. The employee was talking with the bus driver at the school during a drop-off, and she thought she smelled alcohol on the driver. Police were notified and the bus driver was arrested.
In the Antioch crash, school officials did not perform so well. Two grade school buses collided with each other, but the school did not call police or immediately notify parents. Instead, another bus was dispatched to pick up the students, and parents were later sent an e-mail about the crash.
School officials said that they did not call police right away because the accident was minor and no children reported injuries to the driver. Antioch’s fire chief has said the district should have handled the bus accident better.
School bus drivers are not qualified to assess students for injuries, and this is one reason fire and rescue should be called. Some parents reportedly may have taken students to hospitals for medical care after they arrived home.
When children are injured in school bus accidents, and when adults are injured in bus accidents, negligent bus drivers or bus companies may be held responsible for medical expenses and other costs. Bus drivers and bus companies are expected to take certain measures to protect their passengers, and when they fail to do so they should be held accountable.
Sources: 5 NBC Chicago, “8 Kids Injured in School Bus Crash,” Sept. 14, 2013
Wheaton Patch, “West Chicago School Bus Driver Charged With Aggravated DUI While on Duty,” Charles Menchaca, Sept. 14, 2013
CBS Chicago, “Students On Board In 2-Bus Accident in Antioch,” Sept. 11, 2013
Wrongful death settlement for family of pedestrian struck in crosswalk.
We recently wrote of the increased dangers that elderly pedestrians face in urban areas. Wes Kruger, age 64 was in a cross walk on February 10, 2010 when a left-turning Megabus struck him and dragged him 30 feet before stopping. Kruger died soon thereafter at Northwestern Hospital. It appears that the bus driver simply did not see Mr. Kruger in the crosswalk. There was no failure of bus maintenance or driver training proven at trial.
The wrongful death suit was settled for $5.1 million. Our heartfelt sympathies go out to the Krugers and sincerely hope this settlement can provide some closure for this tragic traffic accident.
It was seemingly normal Saturday afternoon for two Chicago women driving home after spending the morning shopping for a baby shower. Their afternoon quickly turned chaotic, however, when a blue van came out of nowhere and ran into a Chicago Transit Authority bus stopped in the traffic lane next to them. The impact had so much force that the van spun and ran into them, causing damage to the car.
The women were not seriously hurt, but 14 other people were hospitalized in the Chicago area as a result of the bus accident. Two of these people, including the driver of the van that caused the accident, were admitted to Mt. Sinai Hospital in serious-to-critical condition, a Chicago Fire Department spokesman said. An additional 12 injured bus passengers were admitted to various hospitals in good-to-serious condition, according to Examiner.com.
Depending on the situation, injured bus passengers might have legal recourse against a negligent driver who causes such an accident. If the driver of the bus itself is legally at fault, the passenger will generally be required to sue the public entity that operates the bus rather than bring a lawsuit directly against the driver.
For example, if the CTA bus driver had caused the accident, rather than the driver of the van, injured passengers would most likely have to bring a lawsuit against the CTA. In general, injured passengers will have an easier time seeking damages against the driver of a privately owned vehicle than against a public entity.
Source: Examiner.com, “Baby shower shopping leads to crash on Madison St.,” Travles Lane, April 21, 2012.
The Chicago and South Chicago Car Accident Lawyers at Grazian and Volpe have written exhaustively about the deadly hazards of distracted driving. This fatal motor vehicle crash in Missouri should be a chilling reminder to all. Federal investigators have established that the 19 year old pickup driver sent six texts and received 5 texts in the 11 minutes immediately before his pickup crashed into the back of a tractor-trailer, beginning a deadly chain collision. The pickup was then rear-ended by a school bus which was in turn rammed by another school bus. The pickup driver and a 15-year-old bus passenger were killed and 38 others were injured.
The school buses were transporting high school band members to an outing at Six Flags amusement park in St. Louis.
The last text the pickup driver received was seconds before the crash. While it is not possible to know whether the driver was typing or reading at the time of the crash-it is quite clear that he was manually, cognitively and visually distracted.
The Chicago and Oak Lawn Car Accident Lawyers at Grazian and Volpe hope all lawmakers are aware of the circumstances of this tragic motor vehicle crash and heed the December declaration of National Transportation Safety Board advising a total ban on cellphone use when driving.
The Chicago and Cicero Truck Accident Lawyers at Grazian and Volpe are sorry about and frustrated by the failure of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) to provide the data to Congress necessary for the implementation of tougher safety regulations fort he commercial carrier industry.
Highway crashes involving large commercial trucks and buses caused the death of over 3,600 people in the U.S. in 2009. The FMCSA began along with various state partners began a compliance, safety and accountability (CSA) program in 2004. This program is intended to identify and evaluate carriers and drivers posing high safety risks. The FMSCA expected to fully implement the CSA program by late 2010.
In late 2011, the GAO report found the new safety measurement system (SMS) promulgated by the FMSCA is still not in effect to get unsafe carriers off the road. The GAO found that the FMSCA has not completed the rule-making needed to implement the program and that the technology needed for implementation will not be ready until mid to late 2012.
In essence, the FMSCA has not provided the necessary information to Congress needed to make statutory decisions based upon the program despite the initiation of the program over 7 years ago!
The Chicago and Oak Lawn Truck Accident Lawyers at Grazian and Volpe are frustrated by the lack of urgency exhibited by our government in addressing remedies for a serious and growing number of truck accidents due to poor standards, regulation and enforcement. We invite all to write or call their elected representatives and let them know that we value the safety of our highways!
Every personal injury attorney knows how difficult is is to hold any government, whether local, state or federal in a personal injury lawsuit. Even if a plaintiff is able to survive the immunity defenses the difficulty in proving the standard of negligence often leaves a very seriously injured plaintiff with no recourse and no reward. A recent New York jury awarded a 13 year old boy approximately $6.78 million after the youth suffered a degloving injury to his right lower leg and fractures to his fibula and heel bone. The boy underwent numerous surgeries and required several months of exhausting and painful rehabilitation.
According to the court records, the boy was running alongside the bus before it began to move and hit the side of the bus to alert the driver of his presence. As he approached the bus’ middle wheels, he tripped and his legs fell under the bus. The bus began moving and rolled over his legs resulting in his serious injuries.
The jury found the Transit Authority negligent in that the bus driver failed to note that the boy was near the bus and negligently moved the bus when the boy was in the zone of danger.
As Chicago Personal Injury Attorneys of over 25 years, we have handled numerous causes of action against private and public bus services (see myaccidentlaw.com/blog articles categorized “bus accidents”). As Chicago residents of equal time, we have noted on many occasions the reckless and negligent driving habits of some (not all) bus drivers for the CTA and the private bus companies. We have also noted that private bus services have fewer defenses to their negligence than public bus drivers and this leads to a disturbing increase in the serious personal injuries suffered by pedestrians, persons in cars or on bicycles and bus riders involved in bus accidents with publicly run bus services. We applaud the jury in New York and believe holding drivers and municipalities culpable for reckless and negligent bus operation inures to the benefit of the public as a whole.
Grazian and Volpe has studied this lawsuit closely and hopes to successfully employ the concepts of liability established in the case for the benefit of our clients who are victims of bus accidents as well as for the furtherance of safe and responsible bus operation.
The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has found that so-called curbside bus companies, which pick up riders on sidewalks rather than in terminals, are involved in bus accidents involving fatalities at seven times the rate of traditional carriers like Greyhound. On September 8, 2011 Grazian and Volpe wrote of a recent NTSB study finding that bus accidents involving fatalities were greater than expected and appeared to be under reported (myaccidentlaw.com/blog 9/8/2010). As the initial report involved all bustypes,this latest study is more disturbing because it focuses on only”curbside” buses. The curbside carriers first gained popularity in urban areas, such as Chicago, by offering frequent rides betwen major cities for as little as $1 a seat. Popularand catering primarily to students and budget-conscious travelers, these carriers have racked up an alarmingly high number of fatal accidents and safety violations over the last few years. While the report found that low-cost bus companies were a safe mode of travel and that accidents happened infrequently, the bus accidents that do occur, were far more likely than traditional carriers to result in serious injury or wrongful death.
The report suggests that the reasons for the increased rate of serious injury and wrongful death is related to the disproportionate (by industry data) larger number of violations issued to these companies relating to driver fatigue and training errors. In addition, the industry has exploded due to the depressed economy. Regulators indicate that it is more difficult to inspect low cost buses because they do not park in traditional terminals and officials must locate and inspect these buses on crowded street corners. Since they are barred from inspecting buses in the middle of a scheduled trip, it is difficult to conduct the surprise inspections necessary to determine the true operating procedure of any motor carrier. Apparently, many drivers and owners of low-cost bus companies do not speak English, and their records are often kept in other languages. Officials are concerned that this language barrier may mean that some owners and drivers do not fully understand the federal regulations and how to comply.
We reported in our previous article (myaccidentlaw.com/blog) that the Transportation Department, which has oversight of the motor coach industry, had nearly doubled its safety inspection on buses in the past five years and recently issued rules banning bus drivers from talking on cellphones or sending text messages while driving. However, this increase in enforcement and regulation is not applying to the low-cost bus carriers.
Grazian and Volpe has advocated for the rights of victims of bus crashes in Chicago and South Chicago for over 25 years. We have noted an increase in clients who are involved in bus crashes involving low cost carriers. Fortunately, we have not seen a wrongful death but have noted that the injuries sustained are serious injuries often involving brain injury and/or spinal injury. We hope this report will act as a wake-up call to Congress and the National Transportation Safety Board and more inspections and pro-active regulations are promulgated to protect the lives of those using these low-cost providers. Please follow Grazian and Volpe on website or on WCIU, You and Me in the Morning the first Tuesday of every month where we take questions and inform out viewers on how to stay safe and if they have been involved in an accident-how to make sure they obtain the best compensation possible.
Motor Vehicle Crashes: Bus Accident Fatalities Worse Than Reported.
Motor Vehicle crashes involving fatal bus accidents appears to be much higher than government reports according to a recent review of government records and news reports.
USA Today has found that a number of fatalities suffered in bus accidents – including a widely publicized bus crash in Tallulah. Lousiana which killed 8 people-has not been included in statistic of fatalities available from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
USA Today found at least 42 deaths of motor coach occupants and drivers which were not reported suing the NHTSA’s standard definition of a motor coach in the years 1995-2009 (the most current years for which data is available. Since 2003, 32 fatalities were not included, which represents a 24% increase from the 133 deaths the agency did report. In addition, there were 42 deaths in midsize buses. This data suggests that motor coach crashes and fatalities have surged in recent years even as highway deaths as a whole have fallen 25% since 2005.
We applaud the current administration in its aggressive efforts to improve motor safety by doubling the number of surprise bus inspections and proposing the requirement of seat belts on motor coaches. Thanks to USA Today for taking on the review of government records and advising consumers of realities of bus safety. It appears to have encouraged renewed efforts by the NHTSA to work with state officials to improve the quality of accident data. The Chicago accident lawyers and South Chicago personal injury attorneys at Grazian and Volpe will be tracking the results of the improved data in the hopes it results in improved bus and motor coach safety.