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Deadly bus-truck wreck findings suggest no lack of liability

It is hard to imagine what a worst-case scenario would be for a two-vehicle crash on the highway. But a recent story about one such crash has to be considered high on the list. It happened in a state other than Connecticut, but it could easily have happened here so we feel it deserves some exploration.

The deadly wreck involved a semitrailer truck and a medium sized passenger bus in September 2014. The toll from the tragedy included four bus passengers dead. Previous news accounts also said several others on the bus also suffered various levels of injury.

What makes the story fresh again is the finding last month by the National Transportation Safety Board about what contributed to the accident. On one hand, the NTSB says it believes the accident was most likely caused by the truck driver being incapacitated, and it says that the cause of that incapacitation was most likely the driver's use of synthetic marijuana.

But the NTSB said that another factor contributing to the high number of deaths and injuries was the fact that the passengers in the bus weren't wearing seat belts at the time. That was even though the bus was equipped with them and the school that owned bus has a policy requiring that they be used.

Authorities in Oklahoma, where the crash occurred, have charged the truck driver with four counts of first-degree manslaughter. That and the NTSB findings would likely serve to support any claims of wrongful death or personal injury compensation that victims and their families might be pursuing.

Liability would seem to attach to the trucker in this instance, but it might also be shared by the school and the driver of the bus based on the violation of the school seat belt policy. Getting clarity about such issues is something that victims and their families have a right to, and the best way to achieve it is by consulting with an experienced attorney.

Source: CTPost.com, "Feds: Driver who crashed into softball team bus likely high," Sean Murphy, Associated Press, Nov. 17, 2015

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