The bus had literally been inspected just days before malfunctioning severely enough to cause an accident that left a graduate student dead and several others injured. As a result, Megabus – a bus service company owned by Coach USA – may be on the hook for damages after one of their buses crashed en route from Chicago, Illinois.
This past week, a Megabus coach carrying more than 70 passengers lost control and crashed into a concrete pillar of an overpass on Interstate 55, south of Springfield, Illinois.
According to the Chicago Tribune, the double-decker bus skidded into the center pillar of the overpass near Litchfield, Illinois, leaving as many as half of the passengers injured. Five of the riders were trapped and had to be extricated, including the graduate student who was killed in the accident. Illinois State police reported that at least 33 of the 70 people on board were taken to area hospitals, including the driver of the bus who underwent surgery for his injuries.
Currently, police are investigating the circumstances of the accident; although no citations have yet been issued and an investigation could take several weeks to complete, witness statements point to the fact that the driver’s behavior was not a cause of the accident. The Tribune reported that State Police Lt. Louis Kink said, “we’ve had no reports of erratic driving or anything along those lines. . . From our witness statements, most of it’s leaning toward the tire malfunction.”
A spokeswoman on behalf of Megabus said that the particular bus in the accident had passed a full preventative maintenance check within the past week, including an inspection of the bus’s tires.
In some cases of Illinois personal injury law, the doctrine of res ipsa loquitur (Latin for “the thing speaks for itself) plays an important role in establishing negligence on behalf of a defendant.
In Illinois injury cases where res ipsa loquitur is used as a guiding principle, the elements of duty of care and breach may be surmised from the very nature or circumstances of an accident, even without direct evidence of how the defendant behaved. For instance, imagine that, in an urban setting near a construction zone, a large metal beam falls and kills a person: metal beams don’t just fall out of the sky, so it is fair to assume some negligence on the part of the construction company because of the nature of the accident.
Here, the doctrine can be applied in much the same way: the bus company had a duty to inspect and maintain its buses to ensure that they were safe for use in transporting passengers. The buses were under the exclusive control of Megabus, whose employees performed the inspection on behalf of the company. The victims of the accident did not contribute to causing the accident. Therefore, it would be reasonable to conclude that, but for a failure on the part of Megabus and its employees to properly inspect and maintain their buses, the accident would not have occurred. As a result, an Illinois bus accident lawsuit may be in order.
Additionally, the family of the graduate student who was killed in the incident may be able to bring an Illinois wrongful death claim against Megabus. Wrongful death is the cause of action that arises when a person’s death has been caused by the fault or negligence of another person or business. In cases of wrongful death, family members and loved ones of the decedent can file a claim to potentially make the wrongdoer pay damages for things such as the loss of companionship, monetary damages to cover the earnings the deceased person would have provided, and expenses associated with the death such as funeral and burial costs.
Our Chicago personal injury lawyers have extensive experience handling claims arising from injuries caused by defective automobiles. If you or a loved one have been in one of these types of accidents, or if you are the survivor of someone who may have died from an accident occurring under similar circumstances, contact an attorney to better understand your rights under the law.