In the spring of 2019, nola.com reported on a New Orleans area documentary filmmaker who released his latest work recounting the events surrounding the deadliest vehicle accident in Louisiana history (and seventh-deadliest nationwide.) The Mother’s Day 1999 bus crash on Interstate 610 in New Orleans serves as a horrible reminder of just how tragic bus accidents can be. People injured in bus crashes may have various legal options against the bus driver, the bus company that employed him, or both, for compensation for the harm they suffered. If you’re injured in a bus crash, get the professional help you need by retaining a skilled Louisiana injury attorney.
On Mother’s Day in 1999, a group, comprised mostly of residents of a LaPlace nursing home, headed east by bus to have a day of fun at a casino in Mississippi. They never made it. As the bus traveled along eastbound I-610 near City Park, it veered off the highway to the right. According to the NTSB, the bus “crossed the shoulder, and went onto a grassy slope along the shoulder. The bus continued on the side slope, struck the terminal end of a guardrail, traveled through a chain-link fence, vaulted over a paved golf cart path, collided with the far side of a dirt embankment, and then bounced and slid forward upright to its final resting position.” The crash killed 21.
At the time of the accident, the bus driver stated that an anonymous vehicle, which did not stop at the crash site, had cut him off and forced him to take the evasive maneuvers that led him to lose control and crash.
The investigation that followed did not reach the same conclusion. Investigators discovered that the bus driver had multiple life-threatening medical problems related to his heart and kidneys. A witness saw the bus weaving in and out of its lane just before the crash. What was more, test results revealed that the bus driver had smoked marijuana less than 24 hours before the fatal crash and had been in the hospital on the eve of the crash, suffering from symptoms of diabetes and low blood pressure.
In the end, it was the driver’s poor health and his being cleared to drive (in spite of his problems) that was the key breakdown, according to the NTSB. The agency pinned the probable cause as “the driver’s incapacitation due to his severe medical conditions and the failure to … remove him from service.”
A variety of legal tools for those injured in bus accidents
In Louisiana, the law allows a person who was injured (or the loved one of a person killed) in an accident like this potentially to seek recovery through many different avenues, depending on what the facts show. Certainly, there may be a claim against the driver, and your case may allow you hold the driver’s employer liable on the basis of a legal rule called “vicarious liability.”
Alternately, though, the facts, may point to a claim or claims against the bus company based on its direct negligence.
If the evidence shows that the employer knew or reasonably should have known that the driver was unsafe due to issues such as extremely poor health or illegal drug use before they hired him, but they went ahead and hired him and put him on the road anyway, then the plaintiff(s) may have a potentially strong case for what the law calls “negligent hiring.”
Similarly, if the employer didn’t know and didn’t have reason to know at the time of hiring, but later became aware of the driver’s safety problems, but the employer kept him on the road anyway, then that might be sufficient proof of something called “negligent retention.” If the facts show that the driver did not receive proper supervision or training from the employer, that may also be a basis for negligence, as well.
In sum, there are many different potential ways to get to the successful outcome you need. To choose the path that’s best for you, get reliable advice from an experienced advocate. Reach out to the Cardone Law Firm and our highly experienced Louisiana injury attorneys. We have decades of experience handling a full range of vehicle accidents, including car accidents, tractor-trailer accidents and bus accidents.
For your confidential consultation contact us online or phone Cardone at 504-522-3333.