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Why bus accidents happen

February 6, 2013 by Steven M. Gursten

Personal injury lawyers don’t understand that buses have their own set of rules

California tour bus crashI write this shortly after the tragedy in California, when a tour bus operated by Scapadas Magicas lost control, flipped and killed eight people, injuring 38 others.

Why do these types of bus accidents keep happening?

Where there is smoke there is fire

It isn’t surprising that Scapadas Magicas had a history of serious safety violations.  According to an investigation by the Truck Accident Attorneys Roundtable, this bus company operated only three buses, but those buses had a combined 59 safety violations for federal regulations regulating to bus maintenance. And of these 59, nine of these violations were so serious that the bus was placed in an “out-of-service” category, meaning the safety violations were so dangerous the bus could not even be driven away until the maintenance issues were fixed.

In other words, past safety violations are a very good predictor of future bus crashes. The problem is exacerbated in some states. And Michigan is chief among them, because there are a small handful of states without punitive damages.  This is meant to deter other bus companies from engaging in similar behavior. Without punitives, a lawyer representing a bus accident injury victim in a state like Michigan in most circumstances would be limited to evidence of the underlying bus crash itself, and not bring in proof of a long history and pattern of safety violations.

This is all part of a very dangerous one-two combination when we consider that we are only now just starting to come out of the “Great Recession” that started in 2008. When profits are squeezed, or when transportation companies start to lose money, the very first thing that is sacrificed is safety.

Maintenance programs get cut, and tires and brakes are not replaced. Nor are weary bus drivers who are dangerously over the mandatory hours of service that determine how long it is safe to drive without impairing reflexes, judgment, or putting the bus operator in a condition where he or she is too drowsy to stay alert behind the wheel.

Related information:

Michigan bus accidents and FAQs


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