Fallout From the Tour Bus v. Big Rig Trailer Crash in Palm Springs

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No matter how much liability insurance coverage there is, when there multiple injuries and deaths, coverage runs out fast. The fallout of not having enough money as a disabled victim is staggering.

Although buses and semi-trucks generally carry higher liability insurance coverage than small cars, it is usually no more than several million dollars. In this case, we can foresee the passengers and survivors fighting over money.

The tour bus crash happened on Interstate 10 in Palm Springs. The tour bus operated by USA Holiday crashed with the rear of a tractor trailer truck. The bus at the time traveled on the return trip to Los Angeles after a trip to Red Earth Casino in Thermal, California.

California Highway Patrol (CHP) division Chief Jim Abele said the bus was a 1996 MCI bus that had regular maintenance inspections. Furthermore, the crash happened at 5:17 a.m. on I-10 westbound. Also in addition, the bus carried a total of 44 passengers. Abele said the bus hit the back of the big rig trailer, causing the trailer to enter the bus about 15 feet.

The CHP chief said most of the passengers slept at the time of the crash that killed 13 people. Also, the bus driver died and the truck driver had minor injuries. Another 31 passengers suffered minor to serious harm. CHP and the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) continue the investigation.

But so far, the cause is unknown. And it remains unclear if fatigue, driver distraction, alcohol or drugs factor into the crash. Certainly, negligence will be argued by all the plaintiff’s attorneys, irrespective of anything. Here, the injuries are severe. Injured passengers went to three Coachella Valley hospitals.

Some went to Desert Regional Medical Center. Five listed in critical condition and three in serious condition. Twelve passengers went to Eisenhower Medical Center with minor injuries. Six with minor harm later released from the hospital. Five other passengers went to JFK Medical Center with minor injuries.

Legal Responsibility.

Finally, from a legal standpoint, the outcome of the investigation may mean little. The passengers trusted the tour bus company to transport him or her safely. The bus company had a special duty of care while transporting passengers as a “common carrier.” Therefore, this alone gives the passengers a right to seek compensation.

Also, the family of passengers killed in the crash has the right to file a wrongful death claim against the bus company. However, should the cause of the crash involve a defect in the bus due to a manufactures part, the passengers may have the right to file a third party claim.

Is a Casino or Other Third Party Vicariously Liable?

There are other theories of liability such as including the casinos and anyone that sponsored a tour a director or controller of the other. And if this theory is upheld under the rules of “agency,” then we have a justiciable claim that could withstand demurrer and summary judgment.


13 Killed in California Tour Bus Crash.” CNN. Cable News Network, n.d. Web. 27 Oct. 2016.