Tragic struck last week near Phoenix, Arizona when a charter bus lost control and slammed into an F-150 killing six and injuring sixteen other passengers. Authorities say that the crash occurred around 5:30 a.m. just south of Phoenix on Interstate 10 as the bus was heading to Los Angeles on its way back from Zacatecas, Mexico. The bus was heading west in the right-hand lane when the driver apparently lost control for an as yet unknown reason. He then rear-ended the F-150, veered left into the center median, shot back to the right across the westbound lanes and eventually ended up on the right hand shoulder where is rolled down an embankment causing a number of riders to be ejected from the bus. Including the driver and co-driver, there were a total of twenty-two people on the bus at the time of the accident. Reports say that at least six of the passengers on the bus were California residents.
What makes this accident even more tragic is that it appears as though the bus had been operating illegally for some time. Terre Santa, Inc., the California based company that owns the bus, has acknowledged that they were operating without the proper federal authorization required to operate a charter bus, much less to transport passengers across the U.S.-Mexican border. Among the violations that have been uncovered so far are: defective brakes on more than 20% of the vehicle; no seven day driver’s log for the driver or the co-driver; and the driver himself could not speak or read English. Records indicate that in April of 2009, Tierra Santa, Inc. applied for official authorization from the federal government, but when they were asked for additional documentation failed to provide the requested documents. There application was then denied, however they continued to operate their charter service. The company’s owner, Cayetano Martinez, has reportedly been shut down by federal authorities in the past, but somehow managed to re-open his charter business under a new name.
For the victims and the families of the fatally wounded, there appear to be more questions than answers. How could this company continue to operate, much less across international borders, without having the proper authorization? Who is responsible for compensating the victims in this accident? The investigation into exactly what caused the accident is still ongoing, so it is impossible to determine what the actual cause of the accident was at this time. It is clear, however, that the driver of the bus as well as the company, Tierra Santa, Inc., will likely share the liability for the deaths and injuries. The driver himself may have been negligent, but it appears as though the company was also negligent. A company can be held responsible for negligent acts of its employees under a number of circumstances, according to California bus accident attorney Emery Ledger of Ledger & Associates. For instance, if the bus was not serviced properly, then that may constitute negligence on the part of the company. If the driver was not properly trained, screened or monitored, than that may be considered negligence on the part of the company. The laws of negligence are complicated, but they do allow a victim or a victim’s family to recover from an employer for the negligent acts of its employees under certain circumstances.
If you have been involved in a bus accident, consult with an experienced California bus accident attorney to find out whether you are entitled to compensation for the injuries you have suffered. If you would like an evaluation of your case, contact California bus accident attorney Emery Ledger of Ledger & Associates online at www.ledgerlaw.com or at 1-800-300-0001