In a terribly tragic accident near Atlanta, Georgia, a bus carrying Bluffton University’s college baseball team drove off an overpass, killing six people, including the driver of the bus, Jerome Niemeyer, his wife, and four Bluffton University students. Read the full story at cnn.com and view a computer animation of the bus route by clicking here.
Apparently, the bus, operated by Executive Coach Luxury Travel Inc., made a stop one hour prior to the accident, when a fresh driver, Niemeyer took over for the previous driver. This fact leads investigators to believe that fatigue of the driver may not have played a role in causing the accident. However, it is significant to note that even though Niemeyer had been driving for only one hour by the time the accident occurred, his driving shift on this bus had begun at 4:30 AM, which can still be quite early for many people.
Additionally, investigators did not find any indication that the bus driver made any attempt to stop the bus before it drove off of the overpass. This may lead one to believe that either the brakes of the bus failed, or the bus driver failed to apply the brakes. Whether either of these possibilities ocurred will come to light during the investigation of this accident. The investigation incidentally will also include a look into the bus’s data recorder to determine what caused the accident.
The families of the deceased along with the survivors may be entitled to monetary damages for their losses if the investigation of the accident finds that the negligence of the bus driver or the charter bus company caused the accident. An important question to determine is who is responsible for the accident, ergo liable for the damages caused hereto.
A charter bus company may be liable for damages caused by an accident if the accident was caused by the negligent maintenance or repair of the vehicle. In addition, liability of a charter bus company may be found if the driver of the bus, acting within the course and scope of his employment, negligently causes the accident. There are only two of several possible theories of liability.
That said however, while those injured as a result of this accident may potentially sue for wrongful death damages and for personal injuries, there has been no indication of any such pending litigation as of yet.