Fort Worth is a very popular regional tourist destination. Unfortunately, a few seconds can transform a fun weekend excursion into a tragedy.
Tour buses are huge vehicles that weigh tens of thousands of pounds and often carry hundreds of gallons of diesel fuel. On the inside, tour buses almost never have seat belts or other basic safety features. In fact, passengers are encouraged to get up and walk around. The multitasking drivers are often more like tour guides. Sometimes, as with church bus volunteers, these drivers are dangerously inexperienced or underqualified.
As a result, tour bus crashes often cause serious injuries. So, a Fort Worth personal injury attorney can usually obtain compensation for economic losses, such as medical bills, as well as noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering. Additional punitive damages are available as well, in many of these cases.
First Party Liability in Tarrant County Tour Bus Crashes
Most of these incidents are not unavoidable accidents. Typically, the tour bus driver was negligent in some way.
That negligence could be a lack of ordinary care. Many tour bus drivers are behind the wheel early in the morning and/or late at night. Most people are naturally drowsy at these times, even if they got plenty of sleep the previous night. If the driver recently changed work schedules, the effect is even worse.
Driver negligence could also involve a safety law, like the speed limit. Many people do not know that drivers can be charged with speeding even if they are driving below the posted speed limit. These signs are presumptively reasonable speeds. But a safe velocity depends on a lot of factors, such as the size of the vehicle, time of day, and environmental conditions.
If the tortfeasor (negligent driver) violated a safety law, and that violation substantially caused the crash, the tortfeasor may be responsible for damages as a matter of law.
Third Party Liability in Fort Worth
In most tour bus crashes, the tortfeasor is not the only party that is responsible for damages. Respondeat superior employer liability applies if the tortfeasor was:
An Employee: Even the aforementioned unpaid church volunteer is probably an employee in this context. The employer, or sponsoring group, controlled the driver in terms of the route driven, ultimate destination, hours worked, and so on. That control is all that's necessary.
Working Within the Course and Scope of Employment: Texas courts define this term very broadly as well. Anything that benefits the employer in any way, such as driving an empty bus back to the garage, falls within the scope of employment.
Third party liability theories like respondeat superior are particularly important in wrongful death and other catastrophic injury claims. Many times, individual drivers do not have enough insurance coverage to fully compensate the victim/plaintiff.
Tour bus crashes often cause serious injuries. For a free consultation with an experienced personal injury attorney in Fort Worth, contact Herreth Law. We do not charge upfront legal fees in negligence cases.