13 people died in a fatal bus crash near Palm Springs in October. This was a tragic accident that left dozens of others injured. We wrote it about it then and gave the basic facts that were out at the time. What we knew then was that the actual cause of the accident was being investigated. Today there’s more information and it may end up complicating the case for everyone involved.
The basics of the case
The bus accident happened near Palm Springs on Interstate 10. It was on a part of the road that California Highway Patrol Officers had stopped traffic on, due to the fact that there was utility work happening. When traffic was started back up again, the driver of the tour bus didn’t start driving. It’s come out that he’d fallen asleep behind the wheel, and it’s also been discovered that the driver was working long hours – in fact, he was working more hours than were legal.
That may seem like a pretty cut and dry wrongful death case against the tour bus driver and / or their employer if their employer knew about and / or required them to work such long hours. However, the truth is that there’s now more information – and that new information points to the fact that there may be more to the cause of the accident than was originally understood.
There were several safety risks at play
Federal offices have taken a look at the case and discovered that the state of California may be partially at fault for this accident as well. The National Transportation Safety Board says that the state didn’t have the appropriate traffic plan to close the road.
For a stop like this, the CHP would typically mark the stopping with advance warning devices. If that wasn’t possible, then they’d typically use police vehicles with flashing lights to highlight the stopped vehicles. In this case, neither of these techniques were used. As a result, the bus driver had no way of knowing a truck was stopped on the road, and the truck driver didn’t have the typical warnings that traffic was starting to work again. With both of the drivers being fatigued, and both of them having health issues, their ability to safely operate vehicles was compromised.
Those weren’t the only safety risks
The above safety risks are all ones that could have been avoided if all parties involved had followed the rules and regulations. Each of them were enough in and of themselves to result in unsafe driving conditions, but it actually gets more complicated when you consider that the fact that it all happened at night reduced visibility, and there was fog on the road.
The end result of the National Transportation Safety Board was to say that additional safety protocols should be put in place during future traffic closures. Will this affect any pending personal injury lawsuits involving the case? Only time will tell.
If you’ve been involved in an accident and suffered injuries, then Law Offices of Fernando D. Vargas welcomes you to call us at 909-982-0707 for a free legal consultation.