In the wee morning hours of January 2, 2008, a bus transporting nearly 50 people from Monterrey, Mexico to Houston, Texas crashed in Victoria, Texas. The bus driver, who had fallen asleep at the wheel, overcorrected the bus when it veered off the road, only for the bus to overturn onto the side of the road. A pick-up truck later crashed into the bus as it lay on its side; however, the pick-up driver was not hurt and the pick-up crash did not cause serious injury to anyone on the bus. Bus accident lawyer teams later helped victims file bus accident claims against those responsible for the accident.
At the onset, the bus accident could easily be blamed on driver fatigue. The driver, who was clearly tired from driving through the night, did not have an alternative driver on the bus to replace him. However, evidence later emerged that showed that while the driver bore some of the blame for the crash, others were at fault as well.
Capricorn Bus Lines, International Charter Services and Transportes Chavez, which all played a role in running the bus line, failed to properly screen, test and qualify drivers. Had they done so, they would have discovered that bus driver Roberto Cruz had been previously convicted of driving while under the influence, speeding and following a vehicle too closely. He had also been involved in four traffic accident prior to working as a bus driver.
Roberto Cruz’s commercial driver’s license did not permit him to drive a bus in Mexico. Furthermore, the company did not have procedures in place for detecting and replacing fatigued drivers.
The bus involved in the accident was built in Mexico; as such, the construction was not in accordance with United States safety standards. The narrow wheelbase and weak window design resulted in many passengers flying through the glass when the bush rolled over. These manufacturing flaws would have been detected had the bus been registered in Texas, so the bus companies opted to register it in California instead. Because Texas automatically accepts California bus registrations, the bus was able to operate in the state in spite of its design flaws.
Given the fact that so many people were injured due to the blatant carelessness of the driver and individuals involved in running the bus line, it is not surprising that forty-four out of forty-seven passengers opted to hire a bus accident attorney and file bus accident claims against the driver as well as the owners and managers of the bus companies involved. Garcia and Ochoa bus injury attorney teams represented some of the victims involved in the crash and played a crucial role in helping clients reach a settlement before the end of the year.
Because the bus companies only had limited insurance, the payout was smaller than it would have been had the companies maintained a proper insurance policy. However, bus injury lawyer teams were able to force the company to make a $10 million settlement that was then divided between the victims of the crash. The amount each victim received was determined by the nature of the injuries as well as the fact that wrongful death was involved. The family of the deceased individual received the largest sum, followed by a passenger who sustained serious back injuries in the accident.
What Does a Bus Accident Lawyer Do?
Anyone who has been in a bus accident will want to contact a bus accident lawyer as soon as possible. Hiring a bus injury lawyer can enable you to claim the compensation you need to recover from the incident and get on with life. If you have lost a parent or child as a result of such an accident, you can file a wrongful death lawsuit and claim compensation for emotional pain and suffering and lost earnings. A bus injury attorney operates in the same way as other personal injury attorney; that is to say, he or she will not charge a dime unless you either win your lawsuit or receive a settlement.
The first thing a good bus injury lawyer will do is listen to your story. He or she will want to find out what happened and when and how it happened. If the bus accident lawyer opts to take your case, he or she will then do further research to determine who was at fault for the accident. A lawyer will also suggest that you get immediate medical help even if you have no visible injuries, as it is not uncommon for neck, back and other injuries incurred in a bus accident to show no symptoms until months or years after the accident has occurred. Waiting to file a lawsuit until you have chronic pain and are unable to work can result in failure to receive compensation as Texas’ Statute of Limitations for bus accident claims stands at two years.
A bus injury attorney will also gather evidence on your behalf. If you have sustained injuries in the accident, your lawyer will gather medical evidence outlining your injuries and the short and long-term impact these injures may have on your life. If you are unable to work as a result of your accident and/or need to get another type of job, your lawyer will collect evidence of this to present a claim for loss of earnings. If you lost a loved one, your lawyer will gather evidence showing the impact of your loss on your daily life.
Additionally, bus injury attorney teams will also look for witnesses and expert witnesses to testify in court. Witnesses may include other bus passengers or those who were in the vicinity of the accident. Expert witnesses specialize in fields related to the accident and may be called to show that a bus manufacturer, company or driver was at fault for the accident.
Once a bus injury lawyer has collected evidence on your behalf, he or she will assess the situation and either recommend going to court or settling out of court. There are advantages and disadvantages to both options and the course of action a lawyer recommends will depend on the strength of the evidence and a client’s feelings on the matter. Taking a case to court may result in winning more compensation than would have been received via a settlement; however, a settlement enables a family to receive faster compensation than would have otherwise been possible.
Garcia and Ochoa is made up of experienced bus accident lawyer teams who know how to help bus accident victims claim the compensation that is their due. If you or a loved one has been involved in a bus accident recently, get in touch with us at the earliest opportunity. A bus accident lawyer from our company will listen to your story, collect evidence on your behalf and help you file bus accident claims against anyone who was responsible for your pain and suffering.