Charter Bus Accidents and Liability

By Peter DePaolis

A charter bus carrying children and their parents fell 45 feet off a sky ramp of Interstate 270, killing the driver and injuring more than a dozen passengers. Based out of Pennsylvania, the bus was taking children on a sightseeing tour of several Washington, D.C. locations when the accident occurred.

Several weeks later, authorities determined that the bus driver had suffered a heart attack while behind the wheel. Passengers reported seeing him sweating profusely and asked him if he was all right. The driver passed out and slumped over the wheel, causing the bus to plunge over the sky ramp and roll down a tree-covered embankment and stop at a barrier separating it from traffic below. If a bus accident has injured you or a family member, a Washington, D.C. personal injury lawyer can help you obtain compensation for injuries and suffering.

Recent Charter Bus Accidents & Liability

Unfortunately, charter bus accidents have become all too common of late. In 2007, a charter bus carrying a college baseball team crashed near Atlanta when the driver took a wrong turn and lost control of the bus, causing it to slide sideways into a concrete wall and fall 19 feet onto the highway below. The accident killed seven people and injured 21 more. Authorities placed the blame on several parties – the driver for taking an exit ramp instead of the through lane, the state for failing to provide adequate road signs and the bus company for its inadequate occupant protection system.

In the spring of 2010, an Arizona charter bus rear-ended a truck, veered and then tumbled off the road, killing six and injuring 15 others. The accident injured three children. An 11-year-old was in critical condition after suffering two cracked ribs. Other survivors of the crash suffered life-threatening injuries including bleeding in the brain, broken spines and damaged lungs.

The bus and its parent company, an investigation determined, were operating illegally. It had applied for permission to operate in the US, but the Department of Transportation denied its application because it did not meet federal requirements requiring drug and alcohol testing of its drivers and proper vehicle maintenance. Additionally, the company had been without insurance for almost a year at the time of the accident.

Poorly trained drivers and unlicensed charter bus companies put their passengers at risk when they operate in ignorance of the law. Passengers considering traveling via charter bus should research the bus company carefully and keep the following points in mind:

  • The company’s permits and licenses should be up-to-date; federal and state licensing authorities can provide records to confirm a company’s operating status
  • Check reviews of the company and its drivers; the company should be highly reputable and provide professional, well rested drivers
  • The company should maintain proper insurance coverage levels, including blanket contractual liability, coverage for personal injury and medical expenses and comprehensive liability insurance coverage

People injured in charter bus accidents should hold companies that cut corners responsible. Transportation authorities cannot be everywhere, and some unscrupulous companies take advantage of this, operating with lax safety standards, without proper insurance coverage or without proper training for their drivers. Contact a Washington DC personal injury attorney at Koonz, McKenney, Johnson & DePaolis L.L.P. to hold negligent parties responsible.

About the Author
Peter DePaolis joined the firm in 1980 and has since represented a large number of individuals involved in automobile collisions, truck accidents, bus crashes, defective products, and medical malpractice cases. A significant portion of Mr. DePaolis’ practice is devoted to working on behalf of people suffering from asbestosis, mesothelioma, and other asbestos-related cancers. He has led his firm’s fight against the asbestos industry and has recovered over $30 million in damages for asbestos victims and their families.