36M Settlement in Charter Bus, Tractor Trailer Crash That Killed 4 and Injured Many

Driver fatigue is a leading cause of roadway accidents which could have been easily avoided if the driver had only gotten enough sleep. For this reason, all commercially licensed truck and bus drivers are required to log both their driving hours and their breaks. If a driver adheres to these logbook requirements they should be able to avoid driver fatigue. However, if a truck or bus driver fails to follow these requirements it could lead to potentially fatal accidents.

Take for instance a 2005 highway crash that occurred in New York. A young bus driver had falsified his log book and was reportedly driving erratically. The bus driver ended up slamming into a truck that was parked on the side of the highway. Nineteen passengers were injured in the bus crash; three passengers and the truck driver were killed.

The Canadian bus had been chartered by a women’s youth hockey team, the Windsor Wildcats, and was on its way to a ski resort at the time of the highway accident. The bus was driven by a 24 year-old bus driver who had only been working for Coach Canada for two months. According to eyewitness reports, he was driving erratically before the accident occurred and swerved directly into the parked tracker-trailer to cause the highway crash.

Investigations revealed that the bus driver had falsified his log book and failed to report all of his hours both on the day of the bus accident and those days leading up to the crash. The bus driver admitted to lying about his hours and admitted that he had driven team members around Rochester, New York less than six hours before they left for the ski trip. Based on the numbers of hours the bus driver worked, it was likely that he was fatigued at the time of the bus crash.

Following the bus crash, several lawsuits were brought against Coach Canada, the owner of the bus; J & J Hauling Inc. of York Springs, Pa., the truck operator; and Verdelli Farms of Harrisburg, Pa., the trailer owner. Presumably the lawsuit against the truck and trailer entities was related to claims that the truck should not have been stopped on the side of the road.

Considering that the bus driver seemed to be most at fault for the highway accident, his employer is paying the bulk of the settlement. Coach Canada will be contributing $22.5 million to the total settlement by way of its two insurers. The remaining $13.5 million will be paid out for J & J Hauling Inc. of York Springs, Pa. Verdelli Farms of Harrisburg, Pa. by way of their three insurance companies.

At the time of the personal injury settlement there were multiple lawsuits pending for trial. And while the settlement does not give details as to the award breakdown, presumably the bulk went to the estates of those who lost their lives in the highway accident: Richard Edwards, coach of the Windsor Wildcats; Brian Edwards, Richard’s 13 year-old son; Catherine Roach, a passenger on the bus; and Ernest Zeiset, Jr., the truck driver.

Kreisman Law Offices has been handling Illinois bus crash accidents for individuals and families for more than 35 years in and around Chicago, Cook County, and surrounding areas, including Flossmoor, Maywood, Bridgeview, Skokie, Willowbrook, and Niles.

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