When there is a serious multi-vehicle accident in New York and elsewhere, an investigation by authorities is typically conducted right away to determine how and why the collision occurred. State and federal agencies may even be involved in the inquiry. A timely and thorough investigation is key to ensure evidence isn’t compromised and authorities have access to all relevant details of the scene. The investigation into one recent tragic accident is being hindered by several factors, raising concerns over victims’ abilities to pursue personal injury claims later on.
The deadly crash happened near Knoxville, Tennessee, and involved a church bus, 18-wheeler semitruck and van. Initial reports suggest that the accident occurred when the bus was rendered out of control and struck the truck and van after crashing through the road median. Apparently, an issue with one of the front tires on the bus contributed to the incident; though, an exact cause is not yet provided.
The serious collision caused injuries to 14 people and killed 10 others. Six of the fatality victims were bus passengers, three were riding in the van and the last was the truck driver. Of the 18 passengers in the bus, it’s not known how many were wearing seatbelts when the collision occurred.
Several factors, including the fact that the truck burned upon impact and investigators have yet to identify some of the victims, may be contributing to serious delays in the accident investigation. The situation is further compromised by National Transportation Safety Board staff furloughs implemented by the government shutdown, which has prohibited the agency from conducting its own investigation.
It’s difficult to say whether poor bus maintenance or human error contributed to the fatal accident. And without a proper investigation into the incident, personal injury and wrongful death suits may be difficult to file.
Source: USA Today, “IDs of bus crash victims hampered by ‘horrific’ scene,” Doug Stanglin, Oct. 3, 2013