Much of the focus of motorcoach accidents in Florida and elsewhere have focused on operator error. These are valid concerns as a number of motorcoach and tour bus crashes in recent years have been caused by drivers who were too tired, too inexperienced, too distracted or too careless. However, the condition of the bus or motorcoach itself is worth examining because it can point to potential liability of the bus owner, operator or manufacturer.
This is allegedly the case for a pending wrongful death case in Texas against a tire manufacturer and a tour bus operator that allegedly installed bus windows that failed to comply with local, state and federal regulations or industry standards and further failed to install seat belts on the bus. They are seeking more than $1 million in damages.
According to the 23-page complaint filed on behalf of wrongful death lawsuit complainants, defendants are the tour company, the motor carrier and the tire manufacturer. Although tire failure, particularly on commercial vehicles, is often the result of failure to replace old, worn tires (which of course are expensive but extremely dangerous). In this case, however, the faulty tire in question was reportedly just manufactured and sold several months before this bus accident occurred – yet it sustained “catastrophic tread-belt separation” while the bus was in motion, resulting in the driver losing control. Plaintiffs allege defendant manufacturer had several other tires of similar dynamics that are less safe and prone to tread separations.
Those who lost loved ones in the bus accident are alleging the tour bus company was negligent for failing to maintain the vehicle in proper working condition, failing to properly train and supervise employees and failing to hire competent drivers. Plaintiffs further allege gross negligence (a finding which would allow them to seek punitive damages) because they say defendants had actual, subjective awareness of the risk their actions would have and were consciously indifferent to how it would impact people on that bus. Against the manufacturer, they allege an unreasonably dangerous design, manufacturing, marketing and sale of the product played a role in their injuries.
As noted by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, there are a number of critical systems in motor coach vehicles that must be in top working order for the vehicles to be deemed safe. These include the air brake systems, anti-lock braking systems, lights, tires and other key safety features.
There are further requirements that pertain to operation of these vehicles, including limits on hours of operation for motorcoach drivers, mandates to check the air system integrity and ABS status before driving (and to monitor the malfunction light and report activation immediately to maintenance) and to reduce speed when driving downhill or over icy, wet terrain. The FMCSA also reminds drivers only to use the parking brake to park – not as an emergency brake.
The agency notes the most common cause of motorcoach accidents and tour bus crashes are:
- Distracted driving;
- Pressure by bosses for drivers to stay on the road during each shift longer than is safe;
- Use of GPS devices made for cars (which means a failure to notify of low clearance bridges and underpasses);
- Poor maintenance of buses, including failure to keep up with recalls or mandated repairs;
- Using the wrong kind of tires for a vehicle or having improper tire pressure;
- Allowing party bus guests to engage in behavior that is not safe.
If you are injured in a a shuttle bus accident or tour bus accident in Orlando, please contact us to learn more about your legal options.
Call Freeman Injury Law — 1-800-561-7777 for a free appointment to discuss your rights. Now serving Orlando, West Palm Beach, Port St. Lucie and Fort Lauderdale.
Tire Maker Faces Wrongful Death Suit Over Bus Crash, Aug. 10, 2018, By James Palmer, Courthouse News Service
More Blog Entries:
Wife Sues Husband After Truck Accident Results in Severe Injuries, Sept. 13, 2018, Orlando Wrongful Death Attorney Blog