Sometime around 2 a.m., the bus went off the road and turned over at least four times before finally coming to rest. Most of the players were between 7 and 12, according to the team’s head coach. “This was a big thing for the boys. They looked forward to it. We practiced for the last six weeks. A huge thing,” he added. Injuries ran the gamut from broken bones and serious abrasions to fatal or near-fatal injuries. The crash killed 9-year-old Kameron Johnson; doctors performed emergency, life-saving surgery on at least two other victims.
“Off-road tour bus crashes at odd hours almost always involve fatigued driving,” remarked Arkansas personal injury attorney Don R. Elliott Jr. “Technology and a government watchdog group’s activity have made these cases easier to win than ever before.”
Until recently, drivers manually kept track up with Hours of Service (HOS) compliance matters in manual log books, he explained. These log books were easy to fake and often not completed until many hours after the events they supposedly recorded. But then, along came the federal government’s Electronic Logging Device mandate. The trucking industry fought the ELD mandate tooth and nail, because they know how it will likely affect liability actions.
In a recent study, 50 percent of commercial drivers admitted that they drove while dangerously fatigued. 25 percent admitted that they had fallen asleep while driving. Operating a vehicle while fatigued is the equivalent of driving with a .05 BAC. That level is above the legal limit for most commercial drivers.
Sometimes, the ELD only tells part of the story. Most people are naturally drowsy at certain times of the day and night, regardless of the amount of rest they had the night before. These circadian rhythm drowsy driving cases are especially common if the tortfeasor (negligent driver) recently changed his/her daily schedule.
Obtaining driving and fitness records was once a time-consuming process. However, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s Safety Management System program keeps track of interstate driving records in several categories, including:
SMS data usually comes from law enforcement instead of courts. So, if a truck has bad brakes and the driver fixes them before a court-imposed deadline, the matter usually does not show up in judicial records. But it will show up in law enforcement records.
Damages in a tour bus crash case usually include compensation for economic losses, such as medical bills, and noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering. Additional punitive damages may be available as well, in some cases.
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