Tour Bus Crashes and Complex Legal Issues

Monday, February 04, 2013

Fox News San Diego reports that a tour bus collided with a car and a passenger truck outside of San Bernardino on Sunday night. The crash occurred on Highway 38 connecting the urban area of the county with the mountain town of Big Bear Lake. Eight people are confirmed dead and at least 38 others were injured in the Sunday night crash. The bus is owned by a company based in National City--Scapadas Magicas--and operated by a Tijuana company called Interbus Tours.

While this catastrophe will have a devastating impact on friends and family members of victims directly involved, the tragedy also is a reminder of the complexity typical of tour bus crashes. Such buses are often owned by one company, operated by another and, perhaps, maintained by another. Responsible parties may be the operator, the vehicle owner, the bus driver, vehicle manufacturer or other entity.   

Obviously this most recent case has many details that must still be gathered to determine the cause, but as these details are gathered, legal action will almost certainly be taken to determine liability. The fact that the tour company was based in Mexico may also add to the intricacies of this particular case.

Tour bush crashes are quite rare given the number of such tours operating on any given day. However, the California crash comes on the heels of several other recent high profile bus crashes. 42 high school students and their chaperons on a bus crashed into an overpass in Boston. Dozens of people were injured. In December of last year, 9 passengers were killed and 39 injured in a tour bus crash in Oregon.

There are countless tour companies and bus operators who take passengers on national and international bus tours. Most operate at the highest standards. But as information emerges about the recent spate of crashes, the evidence may prove that too many bus operators are prioritizing profit over safety and the government may not be regulating the industry strictly enough.    


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