Arkansas State Police investigators say that the bus driver was going too fast on an Interstate 30 exit near Benton. The vehicle was unable to negotiate the curve, tumbled off the ramp, and overturned after it struck a ditch.
That bus was carrying elementary school students from a football tournament back home to Tennessee. The crash killed one person and seriously injured forty-five other people.
“In car crash claims, the law and science often collide,” explained Arkansas personal injury attorney J. Timothy Smith. “Speed increases the risk of a collision and the force in a collision. That’s why speed is a factor in about a third of the fatal vehicle collisions in Arkansas.”
Velocity multiplies stopping distance, which is the ground a vehicle covers between the time the driver sees a hazard and safely stops the vehicle. At 30mph, stopping distance is about six car lengths. But at 60mph, stopping distance triples to eighteen car lengths.
Some factors, such as vehicle weight, affect stopping distance even more. Since large buses weigh eight or ten times what most passenger cars weight, stopping distance may be eight or ten times greater.
Speed and stopping distance are especially a factor when the driver negotiates a curve. Speed leads to oversteering, because a slight tilt of the wheel is enough to radically change direction. At that point, most drivers overcorrect, causing them to lose control of their vehicles and, in the above story, leave the roadway.
Furthermore, speed multiples the force in a collision. There’s an old story about a penny dropped from the top of a tall building being fatal to a pedestrian on the street. That’s not true, but that penny will give the pedestrian a serious headache.
Most speed-related claims rely on both direct and circumstantial evidence of velocity. Both positively impact the victim/plaintiff’s case.
Direct evidence usually comes from the vehicle’s Event Data Recorder. Nearly all vehicles have EDRs. These gadgets capture and record things like:
Furthermore, insurance company lawyers usually cannot challenge EDR results in court, assuming the device was working properly.
Witness statements are valuable as well. Something almost mystical happens when witnesses take the stand and tell the jury what they saw.
today at 479-JUSTICE (587-8423).