Articles Posted in Bus Accidents

A Minnesota jury has signed a $28 million verdict for the injuries suffered by a teenager who is now a quadriplegic after the car in which she was passenger was struck by a school bus. The crash occurred in 2009 when Paige Anderson was just 16 years old.  Another passenger in that car was killed in the crash.

The case was tried to a jury in Itasca County, which assigned 10% of the fault for the crash to the bus driver. The rest of the liability was placed on the driver of the vehicle in which Paige Anderson was seated. The attorney representing her said that both drivers are insured against claims like this, but the insurance coverage is substantially less than this verdict. The attorney representing Paige Anderson was Stephanie Ball.

“Awards this large are very rare in greater Minnesota, but this was a unique and heartbreaking case,” Ball stated, adding that the jurors’ verdict “recognizes the tragic injuries suffered by a young woman whose life was just getting started.”

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Harvey Chernikoff, who had intellectual disabilities and schizophrenia, lived with his parents and took a bus to his workshop job on a paratransit bus operated by First Transit Inc.  To safeguard passengers with disabilities from choking, the bus company’s rules prohibit passengers from eating or drinking.

However, one day, Chernikoff was eating on the bus and began choking. He was the only passenger on the bus and was seated right behind the driver. He was unable to speak with his airway obstructed, so he reached for help. More than three minutes passed before the driver noticed Chernikoff slumped in the aisle, unconscious. The bus driver, who was not trained in CPR, the Heimlich maneuver or other basic first-aid measures, called his dispatcher, which called 911.

Because of traffic, more than 8 minutes passed before an emergency medical team arrived. By that time, Chernikoff had died. He is survived by his parents and one adult brother.

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A Champaign County, Ill., jury entered a $9.87 million verdict for severe injuries suffered by Patricia Marxmiller.  Marxmiller, 59, worked for a medical clinic in downtown Champaign. After returning to work at the end of her lunch hour, she parked her car in a lot at the corner of an intersection. She walked to the corner and began crossing in the marked crosswalk. At about the same time, the Champaign-Urban Mass Transit District (MTD) bus began entering the intersection from the cross street. When she had walked about halfway through the intersection, the bus turned right and hit her.

Marxmiller suffered severe injuries to both legs. She was admitted to a nearby hospital in critical condition and underwent surgery to amputate her left leg above the knee. She spent a month and a half in the hospital and endured extreme physical and psychological pain. When the doctors advised her that in order to save her right leg, she would likely face serious complications and no guarantee that the multiple surgeries would be successful, instead, Marxmiller opted to have the left leg amputated below the knee. Her past medical expenses totaled $666,600.

Before this horrendous incident, Marxmiller enjoyed her job, walking on a daily basis for exercise and playing with her grandchildren. She is now only able to walk short distances with the use of prosthetics and a walker and often uses a wheelchair. She has left her job with the clinic where she was working. Marxmiller often has periods of deep depression because of the physical and psychological limitations she now endures.

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Two 13-year-old boys who were participating in an overseas trip were killed when the bus they were riding in overturned. The trip was organized by the North Carolina Youth Soccer Association.  The boys were on a bus on a wet highway northeast of Paris, France.  When the bus overturned, the two boys died as a result. 

Julian Brown, one of the boys, was survived by his parents and one sibling. Matthew Helms was survived by his parents and two siblings.

The Brown family and Helms’s mother sued the North Carolina Youth Soccer Association alleging in its lawsuit that the association was negligent in selecting the bus company without knowing about its safety record. The families also claimed that the association was negligent for choosing a company that provided an inexperienced driver and that the bus used to transport the boys was not equipped with seatbelts. 

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The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), which is a division of the United States Department of Transportation, has requested that “black boxes,” electronic data recorders or electronic on-board recording devices found in trucks and cars, should have the capacity to monitor a truck driver’s hours behind the wheel.

The purpose of the black box device is to record data in case of a crash. The data found on the black box allows experts to review the events leading up to a crash and use that data in evaluating future safety issues.

Today cars have these “black boxes” to record events leading up to an automobile accident. The boxes record vehicle speed before the crash, deceleration rates and vehicle angles before and during the crash. They also detect whether seatbelts were used.

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Personal injury lawsuits like Heather Pflanz v. Chicago Transit Authority, et al. 08 L 4878, remind us that injuries can result from the activities we engage in on a daily basis. The plaintiff in the Chicago lawsuit fell after boarding a Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) bus, injuring her leg so badly that she need surgery. And while the Chicago jury found the plaintiff to be partially responsible for her own injuries, it found that the bulk of the blame lay with the bus driver.

The incident occurred after 37 year-old Heather Pflanz boarded a northbound CTA bus near State Street and Maple Street. Pflanz boarded the bus and was looking through her purse to find her Chicago Card to pay the bus fare. However, the bus reportedly pulled away from the curb suddenly, causing Pflanz to lose her balance and fall forward.

As a result of her slip and fall injury, Pflanz fractured her right tibia/fibula in her lower leg. The severity of the break meant that Pflanz needed to undergo surgery and have nails and screws installed in her leg for additional support. Although Pflanz has recovered, she continues to have ongoing swelling, pain, and stiffness in her right ankle. In addition, Pflanz has since been diagnosed with patellar tendinosis in her right knee and may require additional surgery to fix her kneecap’s tendon.

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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.

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Cell phones have made it easier for people to stay connected and to access data while on the go. However, cell phones can cause car accidents, whether the driver is using them to talk or to text. And while many states, including Illinois, have passed bans on the use of cell phones while driving, doing so has not been able to halt the use of cell phones while driving.

Consequently, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is looking for other strategies to halt the use of cell phones while driving. Last week it suggested that insurance companies could help limit this widespread problem if they simply refused to pay out for accident claims caused by drivers texting or talking on their cell phones.

And while the NTSB’s idea makes sense and even seems like it could work, insurance companies are not jumping on board. To explain their reluctance to adopt the NTSB’s suggestions, insurance companies explained that one of the main reasons to have insurance is that insurance companies will cover the cost of injuries even if the auto accident is caused by careless or even reckless behavior. And as an insurance specialist and spokesperson for the Consumer Federation of America said, “An accident is an accident.”

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A McHenry County jury returned the second highest personal injury verdict in the county’s history when it entered a $897,000 verdict in the case of David Fuller v. Richmond Burton High School, District 157, et al., 07 L 317 (McHenry County). The case involved a 2007 intersection accident that occurred between the plaintiff, David Fuller, and the defendant school bus driver, Rhonda Fiumetto.

The accident occurred at the intersection of Route 173 and Lakeview Road in Richmond Township. At the time of the bus accident, Fuller was attempting to make a left-hand turn onto Lakeview Road when Fiumetto’s bus drove into Fuller’s car. Fuller’s car had been stopped at the time of impact, but the bus was going in excess of 45 mph. The force of the impact caused Fuller’s car to be pushed into oncoming traffic, at which point he was hit head-on by a minivan.

While Fuller suffered some superficial face wounds and cuts, the main outcome of the intersection accident was a compression fracture of the L2 vertebrae in Fuller’s upper spine. Within twenty-four hours of the bus accident, Fuller underwent extensive surgery to try to repair his spinal fracture. Since that time, Fuller has undergone an additional two spinal fusion surgeries. In his personal injury complaint, Fuller contended that he is permanently disabled and has lost his prior employment as a sheet metal worker.

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The Illinois Appellate Court clarified the duty owed to pedestrians who are outside of set crosswalks in the personal injury lawsuit of Amanda Jimolka v. Chicago Transit Authority, et al., No. 1-10-2894 (2011). The court held that motorists only owe a duty to pedestrians who are within the limits of an identified crosswalk. As a result, the Jimolka matter was dismissed based on evidence that the plaintiff was not within a crosswalk at the time of her injury.

The bus accident at issue occurred in August 2001 near the intersection of Belmont Ave. and Clark St. in Chicago. The plaintiff, Beverly Longo, was walking across the street when she was hit by a CTA bus. Although Longo was outside the crosswalk when she was hit, her guardian alleged that the CTA and its bus driver were still at fault in the pedestrian accident.

Longo’s attorneys contended that she was not in the crosswalk because of heavy pedestrian traffic and also blamed a bike rider who was making a delivery for a sandwich shop. Longo claimed because of these impediments, she was unable to walk in the crosswalk and was forced to walk in other areas. Longo also accused the bus driver of speeding and claimed that if he had been driving at a normal speed that the bus accident could have been avoided.

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