A recent fatality involving a “party bus” passenger leads to the filing of a wrongful death suit. The passenger fell through “double doors” originally intended to accommodate wheelchair passengers. Prior to the accident, the driver had unlocked these doors so that a cooler could be loaded into the bus. The doors were then closed from the inside while passengers embarked the bus through its main entrance. While on the highway, the double doors “suddenly and unexpectedly flew open,” throwing the passenger into oncoming highway traffic where she was struck by oncoming vehicles. A later investigation revealed that the bus had gone through extensive modification- which included the removal of safety features.
Regrettably, this case is a classic example of the tragedy that can, without warning, befall victims and their families. Fortunately, Florida law is clear and decisive that those who suffer damages as a result of another’s negligence have the right to seek recovery in Court. Often insurance companies will attempt to reach out to the unrepresented victim under the guise of quickly resolving the matter, while in actuality intending to limit reimbursement and liability. While every case is different, suffice it to say that attorneys are skeptical as to whether any insurance carrier truly has the best interests of the victim in mind. Be extremely careful when dealing with insurance representatives following an accident because there are documents that can be signed, whereby you would release all of your rights in exchange for a speedy payment. Our 20 years of experience and studies indicate that such payments rarely amount to a figure anywhere near the proper valuation of damages.
Cases such as this understandably carry a myriad of questions, concerns, and issues relating to proper parties, insurance coverage, etc. For example, in the previously discussed “party bus” case, the victim’s family has a right to look into the negligence of not only the driver of the bus, but also its owner (likely a corporation), the parties/ people responsible for the double door and safety feature modification, anyone who may have assisted in loading the cooler by unlatching the doors, any companies that may have leased the party bus to the operating company, and any company that may have contracted the driver/ chauffer to the party bus company, etc.
Cases involving “party” vehicles, such as limos, etc., are subject to many state and municipal regulations specifically designed and intended to protect public health and safety. In this day and age where the general public increasingly expresses frustration with the size of government, insurance companies routinely usurp this feeling by attacking regulations as “heavy handed” and claim that the presence of regulations increases corporate expenses which are then passed on to the public. It is these types of cases that emphasize the importance of compliance with safety regulations, so that future tragedies can be prevented.
In our experience, an immediate, early, and aggressive representation requires investigation. As time passes, material evidence becomes difficult to obtain and may quickly disappear. For example, an inspection of the vehicle and accident site could produce evidence that may have otherwise been lost with time. Communication with the parties or insurance carriers would ensure that any evidence within their control would be kept in its exact condition to avoid spoliation of evidence.
The attorneys at G&C have over 20 years of experience handling this type of matter. We handle cases on a contingent basis which means that we would not get paid unless you get paid (unless there is a recovery by the victims). Generally speaking, all expenses for expert, investigation, etc., are undertaken by the law firm or attorney handling the matter and only recovered from any settlement and trial verdict at the time of resolution. Additionally, our law firms is always happy to communicate with you whether telephonically and/ or in an office conference with any questions or comments you may have regardless of whether you are employed. If you or anyone you know has been a victim of an automobile accident or has suffered injuries from any other accident, we would be happy to answer your questions and assist you.