The families of two people who were killed in a bus accident in southern California are suing the bus company and the driver of the bus. Five people who were injured in the same crash are also parties to the lawsuit.
The crash occurred earlier this year when the tour bus was returning from a day trip to Big Bear. The driver apparently was having problems with the brakes and witnesses told authorities that there appeared to be smoke coming from underneath the bus. When the driver lost control, the bus rear-ended a sedan and then flipped and hit a pickup truck that was towing a trailer.
Federal safety authorities shut the bus company down earlier this year after they realized that the company had misled them during safety inspections just before the crash. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration had issued a passing grade for the tour company, indicating that it was in full compliance with relevant safety standards.
While compliance with safety standards is not in itself proof that a company was not negligent, a failure to meet basic standards does support the presumption that there was negligence or disregard for the safety of the customers. In this case, the link between the safety violations and the accident are not immediately clear, but it will likely be a focus of some investigation as the parties prepare for trial.
In many wrongful death lawsuits, families are looking not just for compensation for lost income and medical expenses, but also for answers as to why they lost their loved one and who was responsible.
In this case, the victims of the accident are seeking unspecified damages, likely because the full scope of their losses and the level of negligence by the bus company are still unknown.
Source: San Diego Union-Tribune, “Survivors of fatal tour bus crash file lawsuit,” Dana Littlefield, April 9, 2013.
Information about the rights of family members in a wrongful death case can be found on our California personal injury site.