Who Is Held Responsible For When a Fatal Bus Rollover Occurs?
A fatal bus rollover accident is more common in the U.S. than it would first seem, and with large passenger vehicles, every crash is serious. While it is true that large passenger vehicles are only involved in a small fraction of vehicle accidents every year (about 0.6 percent of all crashes, according to a 2012 study published in the Journal of Safety Research), this doesn’t accurately portray that danger. In that same study, researchers found that per million miles, the number of crashes involving large passenger vehicles was nearly identical to the number of wrecks involving other vehicles. And because large passenger vehicles are at a higher risk of tipping over during an accident, it follows that such accidents are dangerously common.
WHO IS RESPONSIBLE WHEN A FATAL BUS ROLLOVER OCCURS?
It depends on the circumstances leading up to the crash, but when a common carrier like Greyhound or other charter company is involved, they will often bear the brunt of the liability. However, if a crash is caused by another driver, then victims may consider filing a claim through the third party’s insurance provider and hold the driver responsible.
In most cases, though, when a fatal bus rollover occurs, it is due to an error on the driver’s part, or due to mechanical failure. In both instances, the common carrier will be held responsible for damages. Driver error encompasses a spectrum of mistakes on the driver’s part, such as speeding to failure to indicate when changing lanes or turning. A common problem with these carriers is that they may push their drivers too hard, which can lead to fatigue and drivers falling asleep at the wheel. Given the longer routes that charter vehicles take, driver fatigue is a significant risk for common carriers.
This was the case in 2013, when a Greyhound vehicle in Ohio tipped over and caused serious neck and back injuries to its passengers. The driver claimed to have passed out after choking on coffee, but an investigation into the driver’s medical history found that he suffered from severe sleep apnea, and had fallen asleep at the wheel.
A fatal bus rollover may also be the result of mechanical failure, such as a malfunction to the brakes or tires. Common carriers are responsible for inspecting and maintaining their fleet, so any mechanical failure is a clear sign that the common carrier is acting in negligence. In general, an independent investigator will verify whether or not mechanical failure is present.
Finally, a common carrier may fail to perform an adequate background check before hiring a driver, and miss important red flags like traffic violations. In the aftermath of some crashes, investigators often discover that the driver was nowhere near qualified for the position, or were only lightly trained before given control of the vehicle.
No matter what causes a fatal bus rollover accident, though, a wrongful death attorney can help the victim’s family file a claim against multiple defendants and pursue the compensation that they are owed by the negligent parties.