Recently, on a Georgia Highway, 48 people were riding on a fully-equipped modern charter bus headed to a casino for an afternoon and evening of fun and games. Their plans were suddenly disrupted. Instead of an evening of rolling the dice, sitting at the blackjack table or playing the slots, 43 of them were transported to a hospital.
The accident happened around 11:15 a.m. when, according to Gilmer County’s Public Safety Director, the driver of a tractor-trailer was trying to make a left-hand turn, but his rig was still blocking traffic when the charter bus came around a bend and slammed into the back of the semi-truck. In addition to the many people who were injured, the bus driver was pronounced dead at the scene.
The Public Safety Director confirmed that this was not the first vehicle accident to have occurred at that particular location. In fact, the Safety Director confirmed that, “The curve that comes up to that intersection has a limited sight distance and this is somewhere that we do see accidents that can be pretty challenging and pretty awful.”
The charter bus company, Greatime Getaways, has its headquarters in Marietta, Georgia. The company was co-owned by the driver who was killed in the accident. Its primary business was to transport Georgia passengers to casinos. The crash was under investigation and as of mid-November 2016, no charges had been filed.
The Greattime Getaways crash is a reminder of some of the most serious bus crashes in the nation’s history.
- In 1976, a school choir traveling from one California city to another crashed through a guardrail and plummeted 30 feet down a ravine, landing upside down and crushing the roof of the bus. Of the 53 passengers on board, 28 students and one teacher were killed. The cause of the accident: an inadequately trained bus driver combined with brake failure due to inadequate maintenance by the owner of the bus company.
- In 1988 in Kentucky, a group of churchgoers were returning from an outing when a drunk driver going the wrong way on the highway plowed head-on into the bus killing 27 of the 67 passengers. Another 34 were injured. Cause of the accident was attributed solely to the drunk driver.
- In 2016, not even two weeks after the fatal Georgia bus accident, a tour bus crashed into a utility truck near Palm Springs. The bus was on its way back to Los Angeles after its travelers had spent some time visiting a casino in the desert. Thirteen people were killed, including the bus driver. Another 31 passengers were injured, four of them critically. The bus had been traveling 65 mph at the time it plowed into the utility truck. There was no evidence the bus had even attempted to brake before ramming into the truck. There were also questions about what the driver had been doing at the casino prior to getting back into the driver’s seat of the bus.
Bus Accidents: Statistics and Causes
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) maintains statistics for large trucks and bus accidents. In 2014, the most recent year for which there are statistics, there were 15,728 bus crashes with 285 fatalities and 17,711 injuries. Many of those crashes, fatalities and injuries were in Georgia. Some of the most common causes of bus crashes include:
- Bad weather or driving conditions.
- Bus company negligence.
- Bus driver fatigue.
- Bus driver negligence.
- Distracted driving.
- Equipment or mechanical failure.
- Insufficient driver training.
Who is Liable for Your Injuries
If you were injured in a bus accident, you are entitled to be compensated for your injuries by those who were negligent. There are many entities that could be responsible, including, but not limited to:
- The bus company for inadequate training of the driver, negligent hiring or improper maintenance of the vehicle.
- The city or municipality that allowed known unsafe conditions to remain without repair.
- The bus driver for his or her negligence.
- The driver of the other vehicle or vehicles that were involved in the crash.
Contact Georgia Trial Attorneys
If you were injured in a bus accident, contact Georgia Trial Attorneys for a free case evaluation. We will look at all the facts surrounding your accident and determine the identity of the parties who are liable for your accident.