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Articles Posted in Bus Accidents

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https://www.texasinjurylawyersblog.com/files/2020/09/Screen-Shot-2020-09-15-at-5.27.39-PM-1.pngTuesday, September 15, 2020:  BAYLOR COUNTY, Texas — Multiple first responder units were on the scene of a crash involving a Greyhound bus and a pick-up truck at U.S. 277 and U.S 183 in Baylor County, Texas on Monday afternoon.

The bus was headed eastbound on Highway 277 between Seymour and Wichita Falls in Mabelle when a pickup truck coming southbound on Highway 183 collided with the bus.  The collision being hard enough to push the bus off the road and on its side.

https://www.texasinjurylawyersblog.com/files/2020/09/Screen-Shot-2020-09-15-at-5.26.13-PM-300x165.pngA Texas Department of Public Safety Sergeant said one passenger was confirmed dead, who has been identified as James Dayton Jones, 40,  and multiple passengers were seriously injured. There were 29 passengers on the bus, including some that had been picked up in Lubbock.

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https://www.texasinjurylawyersblog.com/files/2020/08/Screen-Shot-2020-08-08-at-1.19.37-PM-300x257.pngFor some people, a daily commute is an escape before the demands of the day. For others, it can be stressful. For those who rely on public transportation to get around on a daily basis, there is a reasonable expectation of safety while they are on board a bus or train. Indeed, no one expects to be injured while on public transit. However, when these injuries occur, those responsible may be held accountable for their actions through a Texas personal injury lawsuit.

For example, in a recent Texas Supreme Court opinion, a plaintiff was injured while riding a bus supplied through a public transit authority. The plaintiff boarded a bus and grabbed onto a hanging strap. The bus was operated and driven by a new employee who was still in training, with his supervisor standing behind him. As the driver pulled away from the stop, another passenger shouted, “Back door!” to notify the driver that a passenger was still trying to exit from the vehicle’s rear door. Although the bus was only traveling less than five miles per hour, the driver made an abrupt stop, causing the plaintiff to fall forward into the partition behind the driver’s seat. The plaintiff suffered injuries to his neck and shoulder. After several months of treatment, the plaintiff underwent surgery to repair a herniated disc in his neck.

The plaintiff sued the transit authority, claiming it was negligent and responsible for his injuries. Because the defendant was a common carrier, the plaintiff argued, they owed him a duty to exercise “a high degree of care.” In Texas, common carriers are people or entities that are in the business of carrying passengers or goods and are hire-able by the public. To qualify as a common carrier, the entity must provide transportation services to the general public, as opposed to services for particular individuals or specific groups.

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In some Texas car accident cases, one or more drivers involved in the accident may be issued a traffic citation, causing some to wonder what impact that could have on a subsequent personal injury claim. Under Texas law, a motor vehicle driver must exercise reasonable care under the circumstances presented. This means that the level of care that is required in ordinary circumstances may not be sufficient in other situations. For example, the reasonable care required may be different when it is raining or snowing, or while driving in bumper-to-bumper traffic.

If a driver is issued a citation for a traffic violation, some evidence concerning the violation may be able to be used in a Texas personal injury claim. If a driver violates a traffic law or similar statute, evidence of that violation may constitute negligence per se, or negligence as a matter of law. However, the violation of a statute does not always mean there will be a finding of negligence per se. If the court determines that the defendant was negligent per se, then the jury will be instructed that is the case and the only issues for the jury to determine are causation and damages.

Texas courts consider various factors in determining whether a violation of the statute constitutes per se liability, including whether the plaintiff’s injury is due to a direct or indirect violation of the statute, and whether the statute would impose liability without fault.

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Earlier this year, the Supreme Court of Texas issued a written opinion in a case involving a fatal Texas pedestrian accident, requiring the court to discuss the damages cap provision of the Texas Tort Claims Act (TTCA). Specifically, the court had to determine if the damages cap provision applies individually or cumulatively in cases involving several independent contractors. Ultimately, the court concluded that, when a contractor is performing an essential government function, the damages cap applies cumulatively to all defendants.

The Facts of the Case

The plaintiff was the surviving daughter of a woman who was struck and killed by a public bus in Fort Worth. The bus was driven by a man who was employed by a company that was an independent contractor that provided drivers for Fort Worth’s public transportation system.

The plaintiff brought a Texas personal injury claim against several parties, including the driver, the driver’s employer, and the Fort Worth Transportation Authority (FWTA). The FWTA is a regional transportation authority that provides for all of the public transportation needs of the city. The plaintiff claimed that each of the organizational defendants was vicariously liable for the driver’s negligence.

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In a recent Texas bus accident decision, the court considered the parents’ claim that a school district had caused their son’s death. The son, who was disabled, started going to school in the district at age three. The district picked him up in a bus used to pick up disabled students. The boy would stay in his wheelchair while being lifted onto the bus, and the wheelchair was locked into place by the district employees. The bus had both a driver and an attendant.

One day in December, the boy became unresponsive while traveling to school in the bus. The driver and attendant saw he was in distress and stopped the bus. They waited for an ambulance rather than take him to a nearby ER. They didn’t try to resuscitate him while they waited. However, their decisions to stop and wait for an ambulance were in accord with District procedures related to students who face conditions requiring medical care while traveling on the school buses.

Within an hour of getting on the bus, the boy died. His parents sued the district in the following year for wrongful death and survival damages. They later amended their complaint to allege that the bus driver had negligently driven such that their son had been tossed around in his wheelchair, that the driver had driven at an unsafe speed and disregarded curbs, bumps, and stops, that District employees hadn’t properly used available mirrors and cameras to observe their son during the trip, and that locks on the support chair were used in an unsafe and negligent way.

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In a recent Texas appellate case, the court considered whether there were enough facts to establish a waiver of the Arlington Independent School District’s immunity from suit under the Texas Tort Claims Act in a bus accident case. The case arose when a minor was standing inside a school bus aisle. The bus was going five miles per hour when the driver slammed on the brakes to avoid hitting another bus. The minor was thrown forward and hit the windshield.

The minor’s representative sued AISD on the grounds that the bus driver was negligent and had caused the daughter’s injuries and damages. The complaint stated that the trial court could hear this case because its sovereign immunity was waived for personal injury claims caused by negligent school bus drivers under § 101.021(1) of the Texas Civil Practice & Remedies Code. The trial court denied the school district’s motion for summary judgment, which argued there was no jurisdiction due to sovereign immunity.

The school district argued that the parent had not pled a claim that fell within the law’s limited immunity waiver for the use of a motor vehicle. Instead, it argued, the complaint just showed that the district had failed to supervise, direct, or control students riding the school bus. Prior case law stated that when claims have to do with the direction and supervision of students, there is no waiver of immunity. The allegations have to be related to the negligent use of a motor vehicle in order for the lawsuit to proceed.

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In Austin Independent School District v. Idolinda Salinas, a mother sued individually, as a next friend of her son, for injuries suffered by her son when he opened a back exit door and leaped from a moving school bus.

The son was a child with a disability going home on a District school bus. The bus passed his stop, so the son asked that the driver pull over to let him out, but the driver didn’t. The son tried to climb out a window, and when that didn’t work, he went to the back of the bus.

He stood at the back of the bus for a while and then opened a handle on the back door, which triggered a buzzer to alert the driver. The door opened, and the boy jumped out and suffered injuries. The bus driver only pulled over when she saw the boy on the ground.

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Buses are common carriers. If you are injured in a bus crash, you should be aware that usually their duty is higher to passengers than drivers of other vehicles. Although the duty is higher, liability is not automatic. In Mackey v. Midland-Odessa Transit, the defendant was a governmental entity that operated a public bus. The plaintiff was a representative of her sister’s estate. Her sister had died while a passenger on one of the defendant’s public buses.

In a plea to the jurisdiction, the defendant argued that it was immune from suit and that the plaintiff hadn’t shown that governmental immunity had been waived under the Texas Tort Claims Act. A plea to the jurisdiction is an assertion of immunity from suit due to the court’s lack of jurisdiction. The trial court granted the plea to the jurisdiction and dismissed the case.

The appellate court explained that sovereign immunity deprives a trial court of jurisdiction for lawsuits against governmental units unless there is consent to the suit. It found that the state had provided consent to be sued through Section 101.021 of the Texas Civil Practice & Remedies Code, which allows a governmental entity to be liable in a suit for personal injury or death proximately caused by an employee’s negligence in the scope of employment when the negligence arises from use of a motor-driven vehicle, the employee would be personally liable, and personal injury or death would, if the government were a private person, result in liability under Texas law.

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Recently, four people died and over a dozen were hurt in a Texas college bus crash. The accident happened when a tractor-trailer crossed a median in Oklahoma and crashed into the bus, which was transporting a women’s college softball team.

The team was going home after a scrimmage in Oklahoma. Three of the women died at the scene, and a fourth died at a hospital. The sides of the bus were heavily damaged. The National Transportation Safety Board sent investigators to the site, and both the bus driver and the tractor-trailer driver had to take toxicology tests.

A major accident like this can be devastating both physically and financially. When multiple people are harmed, it can be difficult to sort out who should pay and how much should be paid. In general, the party at fault must pay. If the tractor-trailer driver in the situation described above was 100% at fault, its insurer will have to sort out multiple claims against the same policy. It may be possible to reach a global settlement. However, a knowledgeable personal injury attorney will also look into other sources of recovery because a single insurance policy does not always cover all of the injuries, physical and emotional, that arise out of an accident involving multiple fatalities.

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Construction projects can be dangerous and can be the result of faulty machinery, inexperience, lack of safety measures, and weather, among other factors. Notably, the construction industry in Texas not only employs nearly 600,000 Texans, but it also contributes $9.2 billion in wages. Unfortunately, construction workers face some of the most deadly working conditions in the country. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 715 construction-related deaths were recorded in the U.S. in 2010, and 138 of these deaths occurred in Texas.

In June 2013, four workers were hurt, three critically, after a barn frame collapsed at a Texas A&M University equestrian complex that was under construction. According to a Texas A&M spokesman, the collapse took place on university property about a mile from the main campus. The National Weather Service reported that conditions at the time of the collapse were cloudy with temperatures in the mid-80s and winds gusting just above 10 mph, indicating that weather was likely not a factor.

This accident is just one of many accidents involving construction workers taking place across Texas. According to the Houston Chronicle, Texas leads the nation in the rate of construction worker fatalities. Although federal and state regulations provide some protections to construction workers and their families, there is still more that can be done. Even though workers injured on the job are supposed to recover lost income via workers’ compensation, in at least 60% of work-related fatalities in Texas, no benefits from workers’ compensation are paid. In fact, according to data from the Texas Department of Insurance, this number is even higher for construction workers. Additionally, Texas is currently the only state in the United States that does not require workers’ compensation for private employers.

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