This morning, a Mares Tours charter bus bound for Dallas rolled over on Interstate 35 between New Braunfels and San Marcos near the San Marcos outlet malls. Early indications are that all twenty-one people are injured, with three individuals suffering life-threatening head injuries.
While the investigation is just beginning, reports suggest the bus left the roadway and overcorrected, causing it to roll and end up on its side.
Investigation of these types of wrecks and potential claims can be complicated. Obviously, the injured passengers have a claim against the bus company for the driver’s negligence in over-correcting.
But the biggest mistake I see lawyers make in commercial cases, such as bus accidents or trucking cases, is treating the case like a large car wreck case. Simply doing that fails to maximize the value of the claim and is a disservice to the injured clients.
For example, in this case, it appears that the driver left the road and over-corrected. But it’s important to delve into the questions about why he did that. One likely factor is fatigue. This wreck occurred around 4:00 a.m. It is well known (as I’ve previously written) that one of the biggest factors in trucking accidents and bus wrecks is driver fatigue. It will be important to determine whether driver fatigue was a factor and what, if anything, the bus company did to contribute to that problem. Did it overschedule the driver? Did it deny the driver necessary brakes? Did it schedule a driver that it knew might have a propensity for fatigue?
If the driver wasn’t fatigued, was he distracted in some other manner? Truck drivers and bus drivers, like other drivers, have a history of being distracted by texting while driving. Additionally, many buses and trucks today are equipped with so many “gadgets” that the gadgets are themselves a distraction. A proper investigation will look at what distractions might have contributed to the driver going off the road.
Another question will be asked about why the driver over-corrected. Was the driver inexperienced? Did the company fail to provide enough training for the driver? Did the driver have a history of driving issues?
These are the types of questions that need to be answered about the company’s conduct.
Additionally, there may be a potential claim against the trucking company and perhaps even the manufacturer of the bus for not having adequate safety equipment. For example, electronic stability control is an important feature that is used in many buses in foreign countries, but is not as prevalent here in the United States. Electronic Stability Control (ESC) is an electronic system that is designed to minimize the risk of roll-over accidents exactly like the one here. Did this bus have electronic stability control? If not, the injured victims may have additional claims against the bus company and the manufacturer for not including ESC on this particular bus.
Whatever the root causes, a key in this case will be for the victims to retain a lawyer as soon as possible to start this investigation. You can rest assured that the bus company and its insurance company are already on the scene documenting evidence. The longer the injured persons delay in investigating the claim, the bigger advantage the bus company will get.
Stories about the wreck are below. I will try and update them as time goes by.
- Bus Crash Shuts Down I-35 Lanes
- Early Morning Bus Crash In San Marcos Leaves 21 Injured
- Three Victims Flown To University Hospital After San Marcos Bus Crash
- 21 Injured In San Marcos Bus Wreck
21 injured in San Marcos bus wreck: kxan.com
You can contact us about bus accidents and trucking accidents by calling us at (512)476-4944.