On Sunday evening a tour bus crashed while traveling down a mountainous stretch on Route 38 in San Bernardino County. The bus rear-ended a car, flipped over, and crashed into a pick-up truck pulling a trailer. The collision occurred not far from the city of Mentone, east of Los Angeles.
As of this morning, at least 42 people were injured and 8 people were killed as a result of the accident. The number of fatalities is expected to rise as law enforcement officials work their way through the bus wreckage. The tour group originated from Tijuana, Mexico and a many of the victims are Mexican nationals.
According to the California Highway Patrol, the bus driver who survived the accident reported trouble with his brakes. Witnesses reported seeing smoke coming out from behind the vehicle prior to the collision. In this area of San Bernardino County, drivers can expect several mile stretches of downhill roads. This can cause significant wear or strain on a poorly maintained brake system.
The exact cause of the crash is still being investigated. As of now it appears that whether or not there was a malfunction, this serious accident was triggered by the bus. The tour company, their insurance, and the bus driver may all be held accountable. Should the investigation show that the brakes indeed failed, the tour company’s safety records and maintenance schedules will be examined for any signs of negligence. The company is Scapadas Magicas based in National City, Nevada and Tijuana, Mexico. According to their Facebook, the company has operated tours from Mexico to the United States for the last twenty years.
Bus accidents often lead to wrongful deaths or serious injuries. The large vehicle poses risk of severe bodily harm to individuals in smaller vehicles, pedestrians, or bicyclists. Secondly, most buses do not have passenger restraints. When a crash occurs, there are no seat belts or airbags protecting passengers as one would see in a car or truck. Installing seat belts on a bus can be expensive, especially if a company has a fleet of a buses. The restraints are not mandated by law so there is little motivation for some companies to invest in the safety of its passengers.
Instead of seat belts, buses use the passive safety system of compartmentalization, which means that seats are close together not only for maximum capacity but also to minimize the movement of a body in the event of a crash. This practice is effective up to a point, but not in an accident where the bus flips over.
Bergener Mirejovsky is a personal injury law firm serving accident victims throughout California. Our specialties include car accidents, motorcycle accidents, bus accidents and dog bite injuries. A consultation is free, and can be the first step to taking back control of your life. Even if you’re not sure if you have a case, we’re happy to speak to you. We can help you determine if you have a claim and advise you on how to proceed.
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