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Speeding BusEarly this morning, a Sky Express tour bus which departed out of Greensboro, North Carolina, crashed, killing 4 and injuring at least 50 others. Police cite driver fatigue as the cause of the wreck.

The tour bus, which left North Carolina at 10:30pm on Monday, was on its way to Chinatown in New York City. The bus veered off I95 north of Richmond, Virginia and hit an embankment, causing it to overturn.

According to USA Today, records from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (a division of the U.S. Department of Transportation) reveal that Sky Express has one of the lowest safety ratings of all motorcoach carriers. In the last 2 years, Sky Express has been cited for 24 fitness violations that were bad enough that drivers were prohibited from driving until the problems were remedied. An additional 46 violations were issued for violating rules governing the length of time a driver can be behind the wheel, and violations of logbook requirements.

This comes on the heels of another fatal tour bus wreck that likely was caused by driver fatigue. On March 12, 2011, a tour bus carrying 31 passengers, crashed in Chinatown, killing 15 people and injuring the rest. Investigators are trying to determine whether the driver fell asleep at the wheel. The bus company involved in that wreck, World Wide Tours of Greater New York, has also been cited for violations of driver fatigue regulations.

During the time period of March 28, 2011 thru April 6, 2011, the U.S. Department of Transportation conducted approximately 2,800 random safety inspections across the country of motorcoach carriers. Inspectors found so many violations that nearly 10 percent of buses or drivers were removed from the road.

As we have previously reported in our North Carolina Person Injury Lawyers blog, there are approximately 56,000 accidents each year that are caused by driver fatigue. While there are currently no tests to determine just how tired a driver is, an experienced attorney can conduct a proper investigation into driver fatigue, especially those required to maintain logbooks.

Three year old Alyssa Jade Mayfield was killed at West End Baptist Church in Gaffney, SC, when a stack of wood fell on her. Investigators believe the toddler bumped into a pallet of stacked wood in the gym while trying to pick up a ball. The minor was airlifted to Spartanburg Regional Hospital, where she was later pronounced dead.

Day care facilities have a legal obligation to provide a safe environment for the children in their care. When a day care facility fails to meet its responsibility in keeping children safe, an experienced attorney can help make them accountable. For your free consultation, call 704-364-3361.

Francesca Flores was walking in her Charlotte neighborhood to meet her daughter at the bus stop when she was viciously attacked by a pit bull and her dog was fatally mauled.

The attacking dog is under quarantine by Charlotte Mecklenburg Animal Care and Control, and officers are investigating into whether the dog’s owner will face charges.

Regardless of whether criminal charges are filed against the dog’s owner, Ms. Flores is entitled to recover money damages for her injuries. Mecklenburg County has a leash law that states: “Animals [except cats] must be on a leash, contained within a fence or an operable and marked invisible fence. An animal may be loose in its own yard if there is an adult (18 years or older) immediately next to the animal and the animal responds to direct verbal commands of the person.”
If you are bitten by a neighbor’s dog, your claim for injury will be handled by your neighbor’s homeowner insurance, and once the claim is filed, there is little or no communication with the dogs owner, and all communication is with their insurance company. For more information, contact an experienced dog bite attorney.

The driver of a tour bus that struck and killed a man crossing the street has been charged with Vehicular Manslaughter and Driving While Impaired.

Timothy White was struck and killed by a luxury tour bus operated by Steve Drappel.

It has been reported that Drappel blew a 0.14 at the scene, and that a second blood alcohol test taken later at the police station found a blood alcohol level of 0.08, twice the legal limit of 0.04 for commercial drivers.

Investigators discovered vodka in Drappel’s travel mug along with a half-empty bottle of Smirnoff vodka. Drappel dragged White for almost 30 feet before heeding to onlookers cries to stop.

This is not Drappel’s first brush with the law. He was charged with Driving While Impaired in 2004 in Kentucky.

This tragic accident occurred just days after the US Department of Transportation announced stricter licensing requirements for commercial drivers, carrier compliance with safety regulations, and authorization for consumers to review safety records of tour bus companies before booking. It was also announced that they would begin conducting random, unannounced inspections of tour buses in connection with local law enforcement.

In North Carolina, victims of drunk driving accidents are entitled to recover punitive damages in addition to compensatory damages. Punitive damages are money damages that are intended to punish a defendant for “egregiously wrongful acts and to deter the defendant and others from committing similar wrongful acts,” such as driving while impaired. The injured party must prove one of three things before recovering punitive damages: fraud, malice, or willful or wanton conduct, a standard met by driving while impaired.

For more information, contact an attorney experienced in claims involving victims of drunk drivers.

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