Palm Springs Tour Bus Crash Kills 13

A tour bus reportedly ran into the rear of a tractor-trailer early Sunday morning, October 23, 2016, killing 13 passengers killed and injuring a number of others.  According to the CBS News report, this tour bus crash was one of the worst traffic accidents in California history.  The tour bus, operated by USA Holiday, was headed back to Los Angeles from a casino in Thermal, California, when it violently struck the rear of a trailer. That tractor-trailer apparently slowed to about 5 miles per hour for a construction zone.

The Duty of Bus Operators

Under the law in California, a bus operator “must use the utmost care and diligence” when transporting passengers.  This is known as the common carrier doctrine, and it applies to bus companies, taxis, etc.  In the case above, the driver of the tour bus was obligated to use this level of care.  From the circumstances now known, the bus driver did not follow the law.  In fact, the driver of a vehicle that rear-ends another ahead is presumed careless.  This allows a jury to find him negligent if no other evidence is offered.

Compensating the Victims

Nothing can ever fairly compensate the families of the 13 victims who died in this tour bus crash.  However, monetary payments are all that the law allows. In a case like this, the insurance policy of the bus company may be the only fund to pay the victims. Those policy limits could prove inadequate, and other theories must be explored. For example, if the bus driver was working directly for the Thermal casino, then the casino itself could be liable.  If the tractor-trailer driver did not have operating brake lights, the trucking company would be partially responsible.


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