Girardi | Keese

California Tour Bus Accident Caused By Brake Failure?

New information is surfacing regarding the fatal tour bus accident in Southern California. According to records from the U.S. Department of Transportation, the truck company involved in the accident -- Scapada Magicas, was on a federal watch list.

The bus accident occurred on Sunday evening near Yucaipa. At least seven passengers were killed and dozens more injured when the bus hit a car, rolled over and then ran into a pickup truck. The bus driver has said that mechanical problems caused the accident. His statements were supported by a passenger and witness report that the bus was moving fast with smoke coming out of the back. Investigators believe that there may have been brake problems.

This wouldn't be the first Scapada Magicas bus with brake problems. Federal bus inspectors have cited the company for insufficient brake linings, missing axel parts and bald tires. In fact, the company has had 59 maintenance violations in just the last two years.

Holding Bus Companies Accountable

This accident brings to mind previous tour bus accidents that have made the news in the last two years, including a New York tour bus accident that killed 15 people. The company involved in that accident had also been cited multiple times. If a company has multiple citations for significant issues, should they be allowed to stay in business? What does it take to push a company out of business -- must we wait until a fatal accident occurs?

Since the 2011 bus accidents, the government has taken a few actions to make bus travel safer, from stopping a ten-day extension that allowed bus companies to stay in business while they fixed problems, to increasing roadside inspections. For the families of the victims of fatal bus accidents, however, that is simply not enough. More can and should be done.

Those families can take action to hold the bus company responsible through personal injury lawsuits. Depending on the results of the investigation, they may be able to sue the bus driver, the bus company and/or a manufacturer of defective bus parts. No amount of money could ever adequately compensate a family for the preventable loss of a loved one. Yet, personal injury lawsuits can take the financial burden off a family's back while holding negligent companies accountable.

Learn more by visiting our page on motor vehicle accidents.

Source: Los Angeles Times, "Tour Bus Crash: Survivor Recalls 'Very, Very Horrendous Images," Julie Cart, Phil Willon, Garrett Therolf, Feb. 4, 2013

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