Megabus Crash on I-55 Killed One, Injured Many near Litchfield, IL

On Interstate 55, a double-decker Megabus crashed near Litchfield, Illinois, in 2012, closing the Interstate at mile marker 57. Authorities tried to determine the reason for the crash. State Police Lt. Louis Kink said the investigation into the crash would take weeks, but initially, it did not appear to be a driver error. Authorities said that a tire blowout caused the double-decker bus to veer off the road and crash into a concrete bridge support pillar.

Because there were 81 passengers on board the bus, the injuries at that speed and impact were multiple. As I read this article and watched the news coverage on television, the question kept coming up in my mind, “This is yet another tire blowout disaster?”

This severe bus crash comes closely on the heels of last week’s tragic news in Texas of one of the most deadly passenger car crashes involving 14 undocumented works all in one truck, including the cab and truck bed due to a tire blowout. I talked about the number of recent fatalities and serious injuries I have read about in the last month alone due to tire blowouts! One on I-55 in Missouri and another on I-40 in Arkansas resulted in fatalities and very serious injuries. In the Missouri instance, one man was killed when he was the passenger in an Astro van with a tire blowout. A similar car accident situation involved the death of a young mother killed in Arkansas. In both accidents, their vehicles were full of friends and family members. No doubt, in Texas, of those 14 people, there were family members and children.

So, it was even more appalling to me to hear about yet another tire blowout that caused at least one death thus far. In the media and following the accidents, everyone focuses on the facts of the fatalities and how traffic is delayed. Still, I cannot help think about the 81 people on that bus and their individual stories. Where were those individuals going? What were they looking forward to doing in the city of their destination? No doubt, families were aboard and preparing to enjoy some vacation and good family time with friends or other family members. Perhaps, there were individuals on that bus who were returning home after being away from family and friends.

The bus was traveling the Chicago to Kansas City route with stops in Springfield, Illinois, St. Louis, and Columbia, Missouri. Each one of those 81 people riding that bus has a story, and yesterday, their lives intersected with all of the other bus riders in a tragic memory that is certain to change their lives. The 24-yr old graduate student that was killed was with her family on their way to Columbia. Certainly, her family’s lives will be forever changed. A vacation or trip to visit her school forever changed their lives.

With gas prices being so high in these economic times, it has required many to choose some cheaper way to travel. Bus travel is generally thought of as very safe since the busses are much larger than a passenger car; they have their sheer weight as a defense. The double-decker bus company provides cheaper travel for many and the convenience of not having to drive. Driving long distances can be very wearisome, and taking a bus can sometimes enhance your trip. You never expect a tire to blow out and your bus to be slammed into a concrete pillar.

Passengers expect that safety precautions are being taken, such as double and triple-checking tires and other operating systems on the bus. Did that happen? Was the tire on the double-decker bus worn past the point of safety, or was the tire defective?

As a family member of a person injured in the bus crash or as a victim, I would want to know those answers. In the aftermath of such a tragedy, everyone is just trying to absorb the shock of the loss and deal with their injuries. But, at some point, everyone wants answers. Was it an unsafe tire that was not checked? Or was the tire defective? What were the conditions that caused the blowout?

Tire blowouts on major interstates are especially dangerous because usually, the vehicle is traveling in excess of 60 miles per hour and traffic is generally busy on interstates. All of these factors combine for a terrible scenario. When a tire blows out, the driver inevitably loses a lot of control, tries to brake and control the veer. The double-decker bus could have easily veered into the path of oncoming traffic and been hit head-on by other cars or, worse yet, semi-trucks.

At The Cagle Law Firm, we have experienced personal injury attorneys with the resources to hire accident investigators and accident reconstructionists. In the days quickly following such a crash, there are valuable investigative clues. First and foremost, it is important that the tire that blew out be secured. Securing the tire for analysis is crucial. Investigators can also examine the landscape for clues such as tire marks and the condition of the bus to determine the speed and many other factors. The company that owns and operates the bus should be investigated as well to determine what safety precautions and checks they implement before starting a route, as well as safety checks during the trips.

If you or a loved one has been injured in an auto accident or bus accident, you should contact a personal injury attorney to learn all of your options. If for no other reason, you should be informed. As we do not even know the extent of the injuries, individuals will often not know the full extent of their injuries for several weeks or even months. They should not sign any statement or accept any offer from an insurance company. In accidents of this nature, an insurance company may hurry to settle all claims, but this is not in your best interest as a victim.

If you are seriously injured, you have no business even talking with an insurance adjuster because one, you do not know how injured you are or what kind of treatment you will need in the future. Second, if you are seriously injured, you have probably been medicated for pain and should never make any life-altering decisions in that state of mind. As a family member of a victim, you should assist your loved one in gaining information and not giving statements to an insurance company.

If you were not seriously or critically injured, you still probably may experience pain and soreness. It is best to still seek medical treatment for a full evaluation, including x-rays and MRI’s to fully assess your medical health. I see far too many people who accept whatever the insurance company offers if they simply cover some of their medical bills. And then, they notice two to three weeks after the crash that they have a nagging back or neck pain that just will not go away only to go to the doctor and find that they are in fact injured…..but they accepted the few hundred dollars from the insurance company in the days following and now will have to pay for all medical costs on their own.

Talking with a personal injury attorney does not commit you to file a lawsuit. Talking to a personal injury attorney helps you gain information to make the best decision about your future. If I can answer any questions that will assist you and your family, call me, Zane T. Cagle, at (314) 276-1681. We are available anytime and be reached directly to answer your questions, and consultations are always free.

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The Cagle Law Firm serves accident and injury clients throughout St. Louis and the greater St. Louis metropolitan area, including the eastern Missouri and southern Illinois communities. If you or a loved one needs legal assistance with your personal injury case, call The Cagle Law Firm at (314) 276-1681 or use our online contact form to schedule a free consultation.

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