On Thursday November 6, a New York City-bound bus crashed into a disabled car and a tractor-trailer on I-81 outside of Syracuse. The crash left 27 passengers injured, including the driver of the bus, who is currently in critical condition. According to Newsday, none of the injuries sustained in the crash were fatal.
The bus, owned by Pine Hill Trailways, was traveling toward New York City from Toronto when it crashed into a recently wrecked car at 2:30 am. The car had just hit a guard rail when the bus crashed into it. Upon hitting the car, the bus then crashed into the rear of a tractor-trailer that had pulled over after its driver decided to assist the car that had hit the guard rail. The bus then drifted to a stop in the left lane.
Following the crash, emergency crews arrived on the scene to assist injured passengers and the bus driver. Reportedly, it took two hours for emergency personnel to extricate the bus driver, Kelvin Sharpe Sr., from the crushed front end of the bus; Mr. Sharpe is reportedly in critical condition at Syracuse hospital. While no other fatalities were reported, the 26 injured passengers of the bus reported numerous lower extremity, chest, back, and facial injuries. Due to the large amount of individuals injured in the crash, authorities have deemed it a “Mass Casualty Incident.”
Police have reported that the driver of the disabled car, 36-year-old Robert Tarbell, was intoxicated at the time of the incident. Mr. Tarbell was arrested and charged for driving while intoxicated; he is currently being held in the Onondaga County Jail on $15,000 bail. The presence of alcohol in the crash presents an interesting legal precedent as injured passengers may be able to file personal injury claims against more than one party.
Passengers who were injured in the bus crash may have grounds to file lawsuits against the intoxicated driver whose disabled car led to the crash. In order to have grounds to receive compensation from the drunk driver, injured passengers must be able to prove that they suffered either financial or emotional hardships resulting from the accident. Additionally, injured passengers must be able to prove that their injury occurred as a direct result of the intoxicated driver’s negligence.
The passengers injured in the bus crash may also be able to file a claim against the bus company. To have a case against the bus company the injured individual must be able to prove that negligence on behalf of the driver or the company itself led to the crash and their subsequent injury. For instance, if there is evidence that driver inattention, driver error, defective parts, or mechanical error led to the accident, injured passengers may have grounds for a lawsuit. As with above paragraph, however, the injured passenger must be able to prove that they suffered a serious financial or emotional hardship and that the negligence of the driver or busing company led directly to their injury. For instance, if the bus had a defect, but the defect did not cause the accident and subsequent injury to the passenger, they’d likely not have grounds to file a claim.
Individuals who have suffered injuries in bus accidents often don’t immediately file a claim as they don’t understand their legal rights or the constraints imposed by the statute of limitations (a legal statute which governs the amount of time following an injury that a victim can seek compensation for their suffering). Many times these passengers will realize long after the fact that they’ve suffered an injury that impedes their everyday life, but due to their delay in pursuing legal action, they cannot receive compensation for their losses. As a result, individuals who have suffered an injury in a bus accident should seek legal counsel as soon as possible.