Chattanooga, TN Bus Crash Accident and Common Carrier Liability


On Monday, November 21, 2016, a school bus carrying 35 students with an adult driver violently crashed into a telephone pole in Chattanooga, TN. The crash killed six children. Twenty-three other children were taken to area hospitals suffering from varying degrees of injuries. The children ranged in ages from kindergarten to fifth grade. There is no doubt that such an occurrence is a parent’s worst nightmare. The exact cause of the crash remains under investigation. Experienced accident attorneys can help hold bus companies and other commercial vehicle owners legally  responsible for their actions and help recover money damages if you or a loved one were seriously injured in a Florida school bus crash or a victim of negligence.

Common Carrier Liability Under Florida Law.

Under Florida law, a public bus is considered a common carrier. The “common carrier” doctrine establishes a higher duty of care to transport passengers safely. The law requires a common carrier exercise the highest degree of care, foresight, prudence and diligence reasonably demanded at any given time by the conditions and circumstances then affecting the passenger and the carrier while the contract of carriage is being performed.  This heightened duty creates legal liability even in the event of an intentional tort, or premeditated act, so long as the contract of carriage is being performed. While the crash officially remains under investigation, the local police have charged the bus driver with several crimes including motor vehicle homicide and negligent driving.  The charges the bus driver faces could be upgraded depending upon the direction the investigation takes. The investigation could lead to a conclusion that the school bus driver acted with deliberate premeditation. Even is this were an intentional act under Florida law, the county would be liable.

Law enforcement officers indicated that speed was a factor when filing the arrest affidavit. The officers wrote that the bus was out of control while traveling more than the posted 30 miles per hour speed limit. The bus struck an elevated driveway opening and mailbox. The bus swerved to the left and then began to overturn. That is when the bus struck a telephone pole and tree. At least one of the children who survived the accident stated that the driver was driving very fast and was not paying attention immediately before the bus crashed. Also, one mother of a child killed in the accident told the media that she had complained about the driver before to no avail.

The driver’s mindset will be something into which investigators will look deeply.  Law enforcement officials will also examine the driver’s prior driving history. According to reports, witnesses have come forward and told police that the driver has a habit of driving very fast through the area in which the crash occurred almost daily.  Furthermore, media reports suggest that the driver has a poor driving history with a recent accident on his driving record.  In September of 2016, the local police investigated the school bus driver’s role in a crash in which the police investigation revealed the driver sped around a corner while ignoring a stop sign and sideswiped an oncoming car.

Veteran Lawyers Work Hard To Bring Justice To Grieving Families

Suffering the loss of a child is something no one should endure, especially when the tragedy occurs while your child is in the care of someone else. The experienced Miami personal injury attorneys of Gerson & Schwartz, P.A. will fight for you to bring justice to your family if your child was injured or killed. Call Gerson & Schwartz, P.A. today to schedule a free consultation with our experienced Miami personal injury lawyers at (877) 475-2905 for your free consultation.

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