Fatal Bus Crash Raises Questions About the Safety of Public Transportation


Most of us have taken one form of public transportation or another, whether riding a bus, train, airplane, or taxi. As passengers, we usually don’t think twice about how capable the driver is or how well the vehicle has been maintained. We simply expect drivers to have great driving records and for them to be operating well-maintained vehicles. Although we so often trust that we’ll arrive at our destination unscathed, how safe are we really when traveling by public transportation?

Accidents involving mass transit vehicles happen on a daily basis. The news is filled with devastating crashes of all kinds, such as the horrific bus crash that recently happened in our own Merced County on August 2. A journey to Seattle that began in Mexico ended in tragedy with four people killed and several more severely injured. As the bus was traveling on Highway 99 near Livingston, it veered off course and crashed straight into a freeway sign, almost splitting the bus in half while the pole sheared through a row of seats filled with passengers.

One Crash, Many Possible Causes

There could be several possibilities for what actually caused the bus to leave its lane and swerve off-road. Was the driver overworked, exhausted, or intoxicated? Did he have any previous driving violations that might indicate dangerous driving habits? Was the bus properly maintained and inspected, passing all required safety laws and regulations? There were reports that a witness heard the bus making clinking sounds, leading many to assume it may have had a mechanical issue that led to the crash.

The company that owns the tour bus, Autobuses Coordinados USA, has had several violations in the past that concerned many of their buses, including the bus involved in the crash. According to the NBC Bay Area news station, federal records show the company has been guilty of twenty-three vehicle violations since 2014. The driver, Mario Vasquez, also had multiple past violations according to the California Department of Motor Vehicles, including driving a bus while his license was suspended, improper lane changes, and driving fifteen miles over the speed limit.

Who Is at Fault?

Depending on what the cause of the accident is eventually determined to be, there may be several parties that could be held accountable for the bus crash. The driver, the owner of the vehicle, the owner of the company that operates the vehicles, and the maintenance company could all eventually be found to have some measure of liability for what happened. For example, the driver may have fallen asleep at the wheel or been distracted somehow, or the bus may have malfunctioned due to faulty brakes or a tire blowout.

After the accident investigation is complete, the victims or their families will be able to sue the negligent parties for their medical bills, pain and suffering, lost wages and future income, and for the wrongful death of a family member who passed away as a result of the crash. Accidents such as this can result not only in physical trauma, but emotional trauma as well—and both elements will need to be accurately factored into their settlements.

An Experienced California Public Transportation Lawyer

This leads us back to the question of just how safe are we really when traveling by public transportation? We may want to think twice when getting onto that bus, train, or taxi. We put our lives into their hands every time we do.

The Law Offices of J. Chrisp are available to help if you have been injured in an accident involving mass transportation caused by someone’s negligence. We are here to fight for your legal rights and to help you seek just compensation for your injury or the wrongful death of a loved one. Please contact us at (707) 549-8166 or fill out the form below for a free consultation. We are dedicated to helping you in your recovery.

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