Casino Bus Accident
At around 5:30am on March 12, 2011, 14 people were killed, and several others were severely injured in a devastating casino bus accident in the Bronx. The bus was operated by World Wide Tours. According to a report published on NYTimes.com, the driver of the bus told the police that he lost control of the bus when he attempted to avoid a swerving tractor-trailer. The bus was returning to Manhattan from a trip to the Mohegan Sun casino in Uncasville, Connecticut. The casino bus was traveling at a high speed when it hit a guard rail, toppled over and crashed into the support post for a highway sign. The post ripped through the bus. In addition to the 15 people who died, 5 were critically injured and several others sustained non-life-threatening personal injuries. Casino bus trips are quite popular in New York. In fact, several tour bus companies regularly offer trips from Chinatown and other parts of New York to casinos in Connecticut and New Jersey. While most casino bus trips occur without incident on occasion there are accidents. Victims of casino bus accidents and their families suffer both physically and financially. However, the law allows such victims to recover compensation from those whose negligence caused the injuries. If you or a loved one suffered a serious injury in a bus accident, it is important that you immediately contact an experienced New York casino bus accident lawyer who will review the facts of the case and explain to your legal rights.Causes of Casino Bus Accidents
There is no single cause of casino bus accidents. Just like any other vehicle accident a casino bus accident can occur for a variety of reasons.
Driver fatigue. One of the most common causes for bus accidents is driver fatigue. Many casino bus drivers drive long distances with few stops and few breaks. Data from the Centers for Disease Control show fatigue to be a leading cause of bus accidents. In addition, a report issued by the National Transportation Safety Board noted that driver fatigue is a major issue with some casino and tour bus operators. Federal regulations have strict rules regarding the amount of driving and the amount of rest a driver must have. Under the rules, a driver is limited to limits of 11 hours driving in a 14-hour period followed by 10 hours of rest. However, in some cases drivers falsify driving logs. In other cases drivers do not actually rest when they are supposed to so that show up for work already tired. Fatigued drivers sometimes fall asleep at that wheel.
Intoxicated driving. Another cause of bus crashes is intoxication. Unfortunately, there are some tour bus companies that fail to consistently adhere to federal laws related to the use of drugs and alcohol on the job. Drunk driving is a leading cause of vehicle accidents.
Distracted driving. Distracted driving has become a huge problem over the last 2 decades. Despite New York laws prohibiting the use of cell phones and other electronic devices while driving, both drivers of cars as well as drivers of buses continue to do so. In addition, bus drivers sometimes engage in other distracting activities while driving such as eating, reading, or writing.
Other traffic violations. Failure to follow practically any traffic rule can lead to a serious accident, including speeding; driving through a light that has just turned read or rolling through stop signs; making improper lane changes, and following too closely. If it is determined that a bus driver violated a traffic law, the police will issue the driver a ticket. That ticket can serve as strong evidence of liability in a personal injury case. As an experienced New York casino bus accident lawyer, when law enforcement investigates a bus accident, an important piece of evidence as to whether the bus driver was at fault is whether or not the bus driver was issued a ticket.
Poor maintenance. The law requires that owners and operators of tour buses properly maintain their vehicles. If a poorly serviced bus malfunctions, causing an accident, the bus company may be liable to injured victims.Common Bus Accident Injuries
The types of injuries that tour bus accident victims suffer vary widely and depend largely on the type of accident. Common injuries include injuries the head and brain. Such injuries can be include facial cuts and bruises as well as serious traumatic brain injuries. Traumatic brain injuries can lead to long term cognitive problems such as dementia, paralysis, blindness, loss of hearing, coma, and death.
Injuries to the back and spine are also common injuries in bus accidents. Spinal injuries can lead to varies degrees of paralysis, which can impact mobility, bladder control, sexual function, and breathing. Even if the bus accident spinal injury does not result in paralysis, it can cause the victim long term back pain, making it difficult to work and enjoy life in the same manner as prior to the injury.
Other common injuries include broken bones, amputations, and burns.
Sadly, in some cases victims of casino bus accidents do not survive. Death occurs in casino bus collisions involving other vehicles or where the bus for various reasons leaves the roadway, crashing into trees, poles, or buildings. The March 2011 casino bus accident claimed the lives of 14 people.Determining Fault
As an experienced casino bus accident attorney in New York will explain, a determination of fault must be made in order to determine who is legally and financially responsible for the accident. The company that operates the casino bus will only be legally responsible for an accident if the driver or some other company employee or contractor was at least partially negligent.
In the case of the March 2011 casino bus accident, it was not immediately clear what caused the accident. Because we do not represent any victims of this accident or anyone else associated with the accident, we have no opinion about fault. However, NYTimes.com reported that the casino bus driver alleged that a tractor-trailer may have clipped the bus when it sped by the casino bus. In addition, there were allegations that the bus driver may have been fatigued. In fact the bus driver, Ophadell Williams, was charged with 15 counts of manslaughter. He was later found to be not guilty.
However, criminal liability and civil liability are two different determinations. A thorough investigation into the accident will provide evidence as to the events that led up to the accident. If a tractor-trailer did indeed swerve and hit or nearly hit the bus, causing the bus driver to lose control of the bus, then the negligence of the driver of the tractor-trailer would have caused the accident. In such a case it is possible that the casino bus driver would be absolved of fault as he acted to avoid colliding with the tractor-trailer. On the other hand, if negligence on the part of the bus driver was a factor, then the bus driver along with World Wide Tours would be responsible for the accident. Even if the tractor-trailer driver's actions contributed to the accident, the investigators make also conclude that the casino bus driver also contributed to the accident by speeding.
If you or loved one was injured in a bus accident, it is important to have an experienced New York casino bus accident lawyer on your team in order to thoroughly review the evidence and ensure that your interests are protected.Compensation for Victims
The 2011 casino bus accident resulted in 14 deaths and several serious injuries. These victims and their families have the right to seek compensation from the negligent party or parties. Damages to which victims may be entitled include past and future medical expenses associated with the bus accident; lost wages and loss of future earning capacity, and pain and suffering. If a loved one died in the bus accident, damages may be available through a wrongful death claim.Contact the Law Offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates
We are not suggesting that World Wide Tours casino buses or other casino buses are inherently dangerous or that their drivers are generally incompetent or negligent. Nor are we suggesting that the negligence of World Wide Tours led to the March 2011 accident. However, casino bus accidents do on occasion occur. Being injured in a casino bus accident can be devastating both physically and financially. If you were injured in a casino bus accident you have the right to make sure that the person whose negligence resulted in your injuries is held financially accountable. Because of the many challenges associated with a personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit based on a casino bus accident it is important that you are represented by someone with a casino bus accident attorney serving New York who has experience. The attorneys at the Law Offices of Stephen Bilkis &Associates have years of experience successfully representing victims of vehicle accidents. Not only do we understand the law associated with personal injury cases, we also understand the medical issues that victims of serious accidents experience. Contact us at 800.NY.NY.LAW (800.696.9529) to schedule a free, no obligation consultation regarding your case. We represent clients in the following locations: Manhattan, Nassau County, Bronx, Brooklyn, Long Island, Suffolk County, Queens, Staten Island, and Westchester County.