A deadly bush crash in Chattanooga, Tennessee has a major nationwide school bus operator in hot water again. The crash, which occurred Monday afternoon and killed at least six children aged between Kindergarten and 5th grade, is one of now four fatal crashes that Durham School Service buses have sustained in the last two years.
The driver of the bus has been arrested and charged with vehicular manslaughter, which is bringing up a lot of questions as to the safety record of Durham. While the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration admits they have a “satisfactory” safety rating, their records are far from glamorous.
In just the last 24 months, records show that Durham busses have been involved in 346 accidents, 142 of which were injury crashes, including three with fatalities. In fact, the FMCSA even says that as much as 93% of motor carriers in the same safety group have a better on-road performance.
Also not helping the company: it was discovered the driver of the bus, who authorities say was traveling well over the posted speed limit, had his license suspended as recently as 2014 after another crash. Durham chose to put him back on the road.
This is not the first instance of Durham using gross negligence in their driver selection process. There have been eight recorded driver violation incidents since December of 2014; seven of them involved drivers who did not have a school bus operating license.
Is Durham Liable?
It is a little difficult to tell if Durham School Services will be held liable for this accident because it is still so early in the investigation and details are currently still being released. However, it appears likely that the families of these impacted students will be able to hold the operator liable. Their safety record has a history of being negligent, sometimes grossly, and their driver-selection process, despite claims of being stringent, has shown numerous flaws.
While it’s true that the driver was the one who injured all of the children, Durham was the one who employed him, vouched for his ability to drive, and therefore assumes responsibility for his actions. This could be a devastating lawsuit against Durham. Wrongful death claims can be extraordinarily expensive, as well as the claims for the other injured children for their injuries, bereavement, recovery, and more.
If you or a loved one is injured in a major auto accident, including a school bus crash, trust your case to the skilled attorneys at Sico, Hoelscher, Harris & Braugh, LLP. Our team of personal injury attorneys have extensive experience standing up for the rights of injured individuals and their families. Our record of successful cases also helps to tell the story of our acumen: we have achieved some of the largest settlements and awards in Texas history.Do you need assistance after a bus crash? Call Sico, Hoelscher, Harris & Braugh, LLP today at (877) 631-9965 to receive a free initial consultation.