photo by Gregg Pachkowski
A horrific bus crash near the border of Alabama and Florida on March 13, 2018 killed the bus driver and injured 19 others. Passengers included high school students and their parents with four in serious condition. The 65-year-old driver, Harry Caligone, died from blunt force trauma after the charter bus plunged down a 50-foot ravine in Baldwin County, Alabama. The cause of the crash is undetermined. It took nearly 3 hours to rescue all passengers after the bus was crushed below a bridge on Interstate 10.
The bus was transporting a school band from Walt Disney World in Orlando back to the students’ home base of Houston. They had been there performing at a music festival. The bus had 40 band members and 6 adults on board as it traveled.
This is the fourth time that the company that owns the bus, First Class Tours, has been involved in a crash, including another one that involved a fatality.
Because of the sheer size of the vehicle, which can weigh more than 30,000 pounds, bus crashes are one of the scariest types of auto accidents someone can experience. Whether you’re on the bus, in another vehicle or outside of the bus, a bus accident is serious. We hope a crash like this recent one in our home state of Alabama never happens again, but here is what you should be aware of if you ever involved in a bus accident.
How Common Are Bus Accidents?
According to the latest data from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (FMCSA) Large Truck and Bus Crash Facts 2015 report, the number of buses involved in fatal crashes increased 11 percent year-over-year in 2015, up to 261 buses.
While the March 2018 crash in Alabama was school-transportation-related, only .4 percent of total fatal motor vehicle traffic crashes from 2004 to 2013 involved school buses or buses transporting primarily students.
Most people who die in school-vehicle-related accidents, up to 92 percent, are those who are outside the bus, whether in another vehicle or on the road as a pedestrian or bicyclist.
What to Do If You’re in a Bus Accident
Similarly to if you are in a car accident situation, there are several steps you should take after a bus accident that can help protect you, should you decide to file a claim and pursue compensation due to someone else’s negligence. A bus accident can be a frightening and traumatic experience. Try to stay calm and complete these actions for your protection.
Don’t move if you are injured. Movement while injured can exacerbate the injury. Try to stay in a safe and still place if you are hurt, if possible.
Call emergency services. Get a police report account of what happened. This is especially helpful in case the bus driver was under the influence of something or tired. If you are able to, shoot a photo or video of the scene before leaving it. Ask someone for help gathering evidence if you need it. If you can, gather the contact information of witnesses and other passengers if possible.
Accept medical treatment. Even if your injuries are not immediately apparent to you, you should accept medical treatment that is offered. You may have serious injuries, but your body may be in shock and not be registering them.
Return to the scene. If you are called upon to provide testimony regarding the accident, returning to the scene when you’re able to can help you to better understand the circumstances. If you are not able to for several days, ask a friend or loved one to go to the scene for you, to see if there are any notable circumstances that may have contributed to the accident. Unsafe road conditions may have been the major contributing factor, which may mean that a local or state government may be to blame.
Contact a lawyer. If you think the negligence of another party is to blame for a bus accident, you may be entitled to compensation for medical bills, time missed off work and more. A lawyer will be able to review your case and determine whether or not it is worth pursuing.
As you go through medical treatment, be sure to keep accurate records of all doctors’ visits and treatments, as well. Writing down a detailed account of what happened as soon as possible after a bus accident can also help to keep the case details vivid should you need to revisit them.
Contact Pittman, Dutton, Hellums, Bradley & Mann If You Are in a Bus Accident
If you’ve been in a bus-related accident, either as a passenger of a bus or as someone who was in another vehicle that experienced an accident because of one, you may be entitled to compensation. If you have experienced a serious injury after a bus accident, please contact the bus accident team of attorneys at Pittman, Dutton, Hellums, Bradley & Mann. All consultations are free and are no-obligation. Contact us online, call (205) 322-8880, or text (205) 322-8880 for more information.