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How does a Detroit bus driver cause 20 car accidents but have a perfect driving record?

July 7, 2009 by Steven M. Gursten

There are bus drivers who cause one car accident after another, but when bus accident lawyers subpoena their driving records – they’re clean. No reported accidents. No points. This is a huge problem in Michigan, especially in cities like Detroit. What’s going on?

What is happening is essentially a conspiracy. Take Detroit for example, police have “unwritten orders” to avoid citing fault and issuing tickets against drivers employed by the city and Wayne County. Then, when an accident victim’s lawyer gets the bus driver’s driving record and sees it is clean, the lawyer does not add additional legal counts such as negligent hiring, entrustment and supervision against the city/county for employing the unfit driver.

A friend of mine and a very good lawyer, Scott Goodwin, once ordered an “unedited” driving record in a Detroit bus accident case. The record came back “clean” — until Goodwin received the bus driver’s unedited record of 30 bus accidents that occurred over a few years. Yet this bus driver never received a ticket. This exposed the city`s failure to ticket their bus drivers, and assisted in getting a bunch of unfit Detroit bus drivers off the road.

But it isn’t just the cities getting away with this dishonest practice. Trucking companies are hiring top lawyers to go to traffic court and try to get tickets and truck accidents dismissed, and since most accident victims do not appear in traffic court to contest, they are becoming more and more successful.

The answer to this problem is clear: Lawyers should be ordering un-redacted driving records, especially when things don’t pass the smell test. Investigate previous truck accidents for truck drivers. Ask in depositions if they have been involved in other truck crashes that may not appear on their driving records. And run a search for accidents in other states.

Remember, many bus and truck drivers have caused serious accidents or have long driving records of violations in other states that may not appear on their Michigan driving records. That’s one reason they came to Michigan to work. Keep in mind Michigan does not have punitive damages, which allows this to happen.

Ultimately, the responsibility lies on us as lawyers to protect the public when cities, counties and trucking companies refuse to do so. That responsibility begins with aggressive discovery in bus accident and truck accident cases; and to keep digging and digging past what sometimes seems the obvious. We owe it to our clients, and we owe it to every Michigan resident who is endangered on the road.

For more information about handling a truck accident case in Michigan, please visit my Truck Accident Lawyers Resource Center, which has an entire section devoted helping attorneys handling Michigan truck accident cases. It covers topics including legal discovery, black boxes, truck accident experts and finding all insurance after a truck accident. To speak with a truck accident lawyer directly, call (800) 777-0028.

Steve Gursten is recognized as one of the nation’s top attorneys handling serious truck accident injury cases. He is on the executive board of governors representing Michigan for the Association of Interstate Trucking Lawyers of America and is immediate past president of the American Association for Justice Truck Litigation Group. Steve has received the largest jury verdict for an automobile accident case in Michigan in four of the last seven years, including 2008, according to Michigan Lawyers Weekly.

– Photo Courtesy of Creative Commons, by Oran Viriyincy

Related information:

Michigan Truck Accident Statistics

Truck Driver Fatigue

Michigan’s Most Dangerous Intersections

Michigan Auto Law exclusively handles car accident, truck accident and motorcycle accident cases throughout the entire state of Michigan. We have offices in Farmington Hills, Detroit, Ann Arbor, Grand Rapids and Sterling Heights. For more information, please read our law firm quick facts.

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