Catastrophic Bus Crash Merced

Catastrophic Bus Crash Merced

Catastrophic Bus Crash Merced

Catastrophic Bus Crash Merced

I’m Ed Smith, a Merced Personal Injury Attorney. Authorities are calling it one the most catastrophic accidents in the past ten years for Merced County.

What Happened?

On Tuesday, August 2, 2016, a charter bus was in route from Southern California to Sacramento. The bus crashed along Highway 99 at approximately 3:30 a.m., according to the California Highway Patrol (CHP).  The accident happened between the cities of Atwater and Livingston.

The charter bus was taking about 30 riders from Mexico to Washington state.

Multiple Fatalities & Catastrophic Injuries

Five people are dead and at least five more suffered catastrophic injuries including the driver of the charter bus.

Bus Driver Suffered Major Injuries

The bus driver was identified as 57-year-old, Mario D. Vasquez. Vasquez is a resident of the Los Angeles area, said Moises Onsurez, a public information official for the CHP.

Vasquez had to be airlifted to the hospital due to the severe nature of his injuries. He was among a group of other seriously injured people being airlifted to the hospital.

Victims Transported by Helicopter and Ambulances

Helicopters and ambulances were busily transporting the injured to emergency rooms in Turlock, Modesto and other area locations, said the CHP.

Unclear Who Owns Charter Bus or the Country of Origin of the Bus

Authorities weren’t sure who owns the white charter bus. Interestingly, the bus itself had no name on it.

It is unclear if the bus originated out of Mexico or somewhere else.

What Caused the Bus To Crash?

It is still too early in the investigation to know for sure. Investigators have the task of determining what caused the charter bus to crash.

We do know that the charter bus crashed into a large pole holding up an exit sign for the highway at Hammatt Avenue.

The sign is physically located about one mile south of the city of Livingston.

Pole Nearly Shears Bus in Half

Sadly, the large pole appeared to have sheared its way through the center of the bus.

Fire and rescue personnel worked for many hours to remove at least four passengers who were trapped inside the mangled bus.

Helicopters could be seen carrying victims to area hospitals, but no details about where they were being taken or their condition was made available to the public.

Survivors Either Declined to Talk or Did Not Speak English

Survivors of the horrible ordeal declined to speak with reporters at the accident scene. Aside from being in an understandable state of shock, it was thought that most of them spoke Spanish only.

Highway 99 had to be completely shut down in the northbound direction. It remains closed at this time.  Southbound Highway 99 has managed to remain open but that could change, according to CHP. Authorities asked the morning commuters to use Highway 140 instead and to avoid Highway 99 all together. Local news agencies suggested alternate routes as well during their morning traffic reports.

California Law Regarding Buses

California law states that a bus is considered a “common carrier.”  The rules for common carriers are not the same as for other vehicles.

Common Carrier Has A Duty of Utmost Care Toward Passengers

A common carrier has a duty to excercise the utmost care and vigilance toward their passengers. That means that they are responsible for even the slightest negligence.  For example, a bus driver looking down at his or her phone or talking to a passenger instead of looking at the roadway ahead of him or her would likely be considered negligent. Almost always, the owner of the bus will be responsible.

What If Bus Is Owned By Government Agency?

California law states you must file a formal claim with the governmental agency that operates the bus within 180 days of the crash. Thereafter, you only have a limited time to follow-up with a lawsuit if your claim that you filed within the 180 days is denied.  Further, if they don’t reject or accept your claim within 180 days — its considered automatically denied.  It is imperative that you file your claim in a timely manner. This is precisely why you need an experienced accident attorney in your corner.

Traffic Collision Reports Can Be In Error or Inconclusive

It is not uncommon for a traffic collision report to be inconclusive or in error. It is extremely important to have an experienced personal injury attorney assisting in the investigation process. A good attorney will check the records of the charter bus company to make sure the bus was being properly maintained. An attorney will also preserve critical evidence such as the bus, scattered debris, etc., before it is repaired, lost or destroyed. He or she will thoroughly photograph the accident scene, interview witnesses and perform an in-depth crash investigation, including reconstrucing the accident in order to determine and prove what really caused the crash. An experienced attorney will ensure that the rights of those who tragically lost their lives or were injured in the crash are protected.  The personal injury attorney helps victims and their family members recover compensation for their damages and wrongful death.

We extend our condolences to the family and friends of those who lost their lives in Livingston, Califoria.

We hope all those who survived the crash have a speedy and thorough recovery.

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Merced Bus Accident and Wrongful Death Attorney

I’m Ed Smith, a Merced Personal Injury Attorney. If you or your loved one has been injured or killed in a bus crash, please contact me today for free, friendly advice. I can be reached at (209) 227-1931 or toll-free at (800) 404-5400.

I’ve been helping injured victims and their families recover compensation for their personal injuries and wrongful deaths since 1982.

Read many of my customer reviews on: Yelp, Avvo and Google Plus.

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