Bus Collision Causes Chain-Reaction on I-10
Photo Credit: Bruce Beal
A car, bus, or 18-wheeler accident by itself can be terrifying and deadly. But combine any of the three and you find yourself in a maze of insurance adjusters and commercial liability policies. What happens when a bus hits an 18-wheeler that then hits a car? Things get trickier.
That situation happened in Weimar, Texas on I-10 in June of 2015. A Transportes del Norte bus that was taking migrant workers from Laredo, Texas, to North Carolina for the tobacco harvest rear-ended an 18-wheeler that then hit a car - it turned into a chain-reaction collision since traffic had slowed for construction.
The bus driver, Miguel Angel Tobalina-Gonzalez, and a passenger, Roman Juan Domicilio, were killed in the accident. Mr. Domicilio was thrown from the front of the bus on impact. Other people who were injured in the crash were taken to area hospitals in La Grange, Austin, and Columbus. A woman whose car was hit by the flatbed trailer causing her to hit the vehicle in front of her walked away from the accident. One passenger who survived the accident told reporters that he thinks the bus driver either fell asleep or wasn't paying attention in the moments leading up to the accident.
Turimex, the company that operates the Transportes Del Norte bus, was fined twice in the last six years by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. They were fined nearly $1,300 for violating a rule requiring drivers be drug tested and fined $2,500 for using equipment that was supposed to be out of service.
Know Your Legal Rights After Being Injured In A Multi-Vehicle Accident
Everyone who was hurt in an accident like the Weimar accident needs to know their legal rights before they accidentally sign them away. Insurance adjusters and corporate representatives are trained to minimize or eliminate your rights. They don't want you to take advantage of your legal rights and obtain the compensation you deserve. In any accident case, the insurance company wants to pay you the smallest amount possible as soon as possible and make your claim go away permanently. However, your injuries or the loss of a loved one will not be covered by a small payout. You most likely have medical bills, lost wages, property damage, and are facing an uphill battle to recover from your injuries. Before you take any action, you need to know your legal rights:
- You have the right to not give a recorded statement to a company representative or to an insurance adjuster.
- You have the right to not sign any forms or releases.
- You have the right to receive medical care for your injuries without first signing any forms or releases.
- You have the right to conduct an independent investigation into the cause of the accident.
- You have the right to speak with an attorney about your legal options for pursuing compensation by filing a lawsuit.
- You have the right to pursue a wrongful death lawsuit if you lost a spouse, child, or parent in the accident.
If multiple vehicles and multiple types of vehicles were involved in the accident, like what occurred in the Weimar accident, an attorney might be able to help you pursue a lawsuit against all of the parties that hit you - so you might be able to name every vehicle behind you in the chain-reaction accident in a lawsuit. Take the Weimar accident for example, the Turimex bus started the chain reaction of collisions. Bus companies must adhere to a higher standard of safety than others on the road and follow federal safety guideline. Companies and bus drivers have a duty not just to their passengers but to others on the roads to operate safely. This is called the Common Carrier Rule.
Sometimes, especially in rear-end collisions, you will walk away from the crash feeling fine. However, once the adrenaline wears off and a few days or even a few weeks passes, you might start feeling sore, having pain in areas of your back or neck, or experiencing radiating pain or numbness. It can take time for injuries to make themselves known. As soon as you experience any pain, stiffness, tingling, or numbness, get medical attention right away.
Truck Drivers' Rights After Being Rear-Ended by A Bus
For truck drivers, being rear-ended can cause serious injuries, especially when you're rear-ended by a bus. The forces exerted on you in that type of accident are much larger than those exerted by a car. As with bus passengers, if you did not get suffer visible, physical injuries at time of the accident, you may experience pain or stiffness days or even weeks after the accident. For many spinal injuries, they become more painful as time goes on, and your body tries to protect itself by tightening the muscles around the injured area, making you feel sore and stiff.
In an accident where an 18-wheeler is rear-ended, the truck driver has several options for recovering for their injuries. In the Weimar accident, for example, the truck driver could either file on his work insurance since it could be considered a work injury, or he could file on the bus company's insurance. If the truck driver was on the job at the time of the accident, it would be a third party case, allowing him to file a lawsuit against the bus company.
Bus Passengers' Rights After Being Injured in an Accident
For people who have been injured in a bus accident or for people who have lost loved ones in a bus accident, knowing that the bus company has been fined for violating federal safety rules is important. One of the first things that will happen after the accident is that company representatives and insurance adjusters will contact passengers for statements and to sign releases. These are tactics to get you to sign away your legal rights or to get you to say you weren't injured in the accident. It is within your rights to not give a statement and to not sign any paperwork given to you by an adjuster or company representative.
Family Members' Rights After Losing a Loved One in a Bus Accident
Spouses, children, and parents have the right to pursue a wrongful death lawsuit against the parties responsible for their loved one's death. In wrongful death cases, it is important to find out how the accident happened, if any defective part or product contributed to the death of your loved one, and all the parties who can be held legally responsible for your loved one's death. Typically, although other investigations into the accident are occurring, you won't be able to receive any of their findings unless you go to court. And you might not be able to get your own independent investigation off the ground if you don't use the legal system to be able to have a judge order that you be allowed to conduct your own investigation.
For wrongful death cases, talking to an attorney as soon as possible after an accident happens is important. The faster you work, the more evidence you can prevent from being lost or destroyed, the more you'll be able to find out about the accident, and the more evidence you'll have in proving that your loved one's death could have been prevented.
How to Get the Help You Need After A Major Accident
Now that you know your legal rights, you know that, in serious injury and death cases, to get the compensation you deserve, you should discuss your case with an attorney right away. To find the best attorney for your case, you should review their record. Have they won cases similar to yours? Have they been successful in leading independent investigations into the causes of major accidents? Are they board certified, meaning have they passed a rigorous examination and qualification process proving that they are experts in accident cases? These are some of the questions you should ask as you search for an attorney to help you with your potential case.
If you would like to discuss your accident case with one of our attorneys, contact us now. Call 877.724.7800 or fill out a contact form on our site.