Illinois Megabus crash latest in a string of bus accidents

by Eric Pearson

A double decker Megabus traveling from Chicago to St. Louis crashed into a concrete bridge pillar on I-55, killing one person and injuring nearly 60 others. While the crash remains under investigation, a preliminary report indicates a blown tire may have caused the crash.

The latest fatal bas crash follows a string of bus crashes in the last few years that killed dozens. Fifteen people were killed in May 2011 when a bus swerved off Interstate 95 in New York City and was sliced in two. Two days later, another bus drove off the New Jersey Turnpike and struck a bridge support, killing the driver and passenger. In September 2010 a wreck near downtown Syracuse, N.Y., involving another double-decker Megabus killed four people after the bus slammed into a low bridge.

Although the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration regulates inter-state buses, enforcement is often lax and numerous bus companies flagrantly violate established safety rules. Problems include poor maintenance, lack of inspections and untrained drivers. Driver fatigue and driver drug use are also major concerns. As a result of these abuses, there at least 11,000 bus crashes each year in the United States that injure more than 24,000 people each year. Recent annual bus fatalities have ranged from eleven to forty-six per year.

Heygood, Orr & Pearson partner Eric D. Pearson represented the family of Nick Stout, a teenage boy who suffered a traumatic brain injury when the bus he was taking to church camp slammed into a concrete bridge abutment in East Texas, killing four and injuring dozens. Evidence showed that the driver of the bus, Ernest Carter, was under the influence of cocaine and valium at the time of the crash. He was also suffering from fatigue due to his failure to adhere to government regulations relating to maximum hours and minimum rest periods.

The evidence also showed that Defendant Eric Rockmore, owner of Discovery Tours, falsified documents to cover up Carter’s rules violations. Following a three week trial, the jury in the 14th Judicial District Court of Dallas County, Texas found in favor of the plaintiffs and awarded the Stout family more than $36 million.

If you have been seriously injured, or someone you know has been hurt or killed, in a bus crash, you may be entitled to compensation. To find out if you may have a case, contact the lawyers at Heygood, Orr & Pearson by calling toll-free at 1-877-446-9001, or by filling out our free online case evaluation form.