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Tour bus crash may cause legal problems for bus company

Bus companies in Houston may be held liable for bus accidents caused by driver negligence. An example of how this scenario could come about was highlighted in a recent news article from another state. A bus driver is under investigation for possibly falling asleep behind the wheel and causing a highway bus accident injuring all 24 people on board. The driver has been cited for fatigue four times in the past year.

The bus was on its way back from a casino at around 6:20 a.m., when it hit the highway median and then slid along the guardrail for a couple hundred feet. The bus slowly moved forward until a trooper pulled his cruiser in front of the bus to stop it completely. The driver was found outside the vehicle, critically injured but conscious. It is unclear how the driver ended up outside the vehicle, but it is possible that he was ejected during the accident. None of the passengers had life-threatening injuries.

Although the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration's website has given the bus company a satisfactory rating and the company has not had any crashes in the past two years, the company has been cited for fatigued driving, speeding and bus safety feature issues multiple times in the past year.

Many bus accidents are caused by the negligence of the driver, and this negligence is helpful in determining fault. Negligence is present when the driver fails to exercise reasonable care when operating a vehicle. However, the driver is not the only one who can be held liable for accidents. Employers, bus companies and insurance companies may also be liable for injuries incurred during the accident and other damages. To hold a bus company liable for an accident, the court would need to find that the bus company exercised some degree of control over the driver and that the driver was acting in the scope of his employment when the accident occurred.

Source: pressconnects.com, "I-95 bus crash: Tour bus driver is focus of crash investigation," Ernie Garcia and Elizabeth Ganga, July 5, 2012

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Brian Jensen

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