Lawsuits have been filed by the families of two of the victims who died in a tour bus crash outside of Palm Springs, California on October 23. The lawsuits were filed against the bus company and its owner and driver the night of the accident. The driver was also killed in the crash, so the lawsuits are seeking damages from the deceased driver’s estate.
Family members of Gustavo Garcia, 63, and Tony Mia, 50, said the driver of the bus, 59-year-old Teodulo Elias Vides, was negligent and reckless, making him legally responsible for the accident. Specifically, the lawsuits cite failure to travel at a safe speed, failure to reduce speed at a construction zone and failure to keep a proper lookout and apply the brakes when necessary. The lawyers of the plaintiffs also list Vides’ failure to properly maintain the bus and operating a bus that was not equipped with seatbelts or other restraint systems.
Crash occurred in early morning hours
The bus was traveling back to the Los Angeles area from the Red Earth Casino at Salton City at around 5:15 a.m. when it slammed into the back of a tractor trailer on Interstate 10. Traffic in the area had slowed significantly at the time of the accident, due to roadwork. The big rig was traveling at about five miles per hour when the bus crashed into its back end. Investigators have told local media the bus must have been traveling much faster than the truck at the time of impact, due to the considerable damage the front of the bus suffered.
In addition, investigators noted there were no skid marks to indicate the brakes were ever applied on the bus prior to the collision. The only skid marks in the road after the accident were those of the truck as it was pushed forward from the accident. The investigation has also revealed that four of the eight tires on the bus were worn to the point the vehicle should have been put out of commission.
Investigation by NTSB ongoing
The investigation is continuing as the National Transportation Safety Board continues to collect clues as to what might have caused the deadly accident. Some of the factors they will consider include the driving records of both drivers involved in the crash, including their accident history and level of training for operating the vehicles they were driving.
Most of the passengers were asleep on the bus when the collision occurred. The 13 that were killed were all sitting close to the front of the bus, where the most significant damage occurred. Another 31 passengers were injured during the accidents, some of them severely.
The wrongful death lawsuits filed this week are the first involving this particular crash. A report from KPCC found that Vides was only carrying $5 million in insurance for his bus, which will not offer much compensation for the families of the 13 killed as well as the other 31 that suffered injuries. The $5 million is the legal limit for buses of this size – a limit that has not changed since the 1980s.
As the investigation into the cause of the crash continues, it remains to be seen whether other accident victims will seek legal reparations. Car accident attorney Sean F. Salamati offers legal guidance to those who were injured in motor vehicle accidents. To make an appointment for a free consultation, please call 888-259-4060
- CNN, Police: “No Appearance of Braking” in Deadly Bus Crash, http://www.cnn.com/2016/10/23/us/california-bus-accident/
- SCPR, Bus Crash Victims to get Little Compensation, http://www.scpr.org/news/2016/10/31/65827/bus-crash-victims-likely-to-get-little-compensatio/
- Las Vegas Review Journal, Casino Bus Crashes in U.S. Attracting More Safety Scrutiny, http://www.reviewjournal.com/news/nation-and-world/casino-bus-crashes-us-attracting-more-safety-scrutiny