Channelview Bus Wreck
I read this morning of a terrible bus wreck occurring in Alabama injuring children from Channelview, Texas who were on their way back to Texas from a Spring Break trip to Disney. First reports are that the driver did not survive and that many of the children have significant injuries. As a parent of high school age children myself, my heart is heavy for the kids, their families and the family of the driver. We put our children on commercial buses precisely to help prevent deadly wrecks that surely will occur if older teens were to drive such long distances with little sleep. While the authorities are sorting out what happened, it is clear that the legal analysis is going to get real messy, real fast.
To begin with, many bus companies simply don’t carry enough liability insurance to cover the multitude of serious injuries and/or deaths that can occur. Very often liability of third parties that vetted the bus company may need to be explored, especially if investigations reveal underqualified drivers or if maintence of the bus caused the wreck. Evidence must be preserved both at the scene of the wreck and at the business locations of potentially responsible entities. With potentially many entities involved over several states, if a claim is warranted, there may be several different venues, or localities in which the case can be brought. Venue matters. It determines who the judge will be and the make-up of the jury which can radically affect the perceived value of a claim. In fact, in serious injury and death cases the choice of venue and the litigation to retain appropriate venue can often be one of the most serious decisions a lawyer can make for a client.
This bus wreck has all of the hallmarks of one that will likely see these complications and more. When a wreck occurs with several potentially responsible persons or entities from different states, as often happens with long-haul truck wrecks and commercial bus wrecks, the victims need to know that prosecuting these claims is not a simply car wreck, and that the choices that they make early matter in the ultimate resolution of these claims. To the victims of this particular wreck, I pray for fast and full healing and hope that the legal actions spawned by this horrible wreck happen quickly with a minimum of additional trauma to everyone involved.