Cagle Law Firm
Attorney Zane Cagle

Posted on August 3rd, 2012,
by Zane Cagle

Megabus Crash on I-55 Kills One, Injures Many Near Litchfield, Illinois

Posted on August 3rd, 2012 by Zane Cagle

Megabus Crash on I-55 Kills One, Injures Many Near Litchfield, Illinois

Photo by Michael Pierson-News Channel 5

On Interstate 55, a double-decker Megabus crashed near Litchfield, Illinois yesterday, closing the Interstate at mile-marker 57. Authorities are trying to determine the reason for the crash. State Police Lt. Louis Kink said the investigation into Thursday’s crash could take weeks but initially it did not appear to be a driver error.  Authorities said that a tire blow out caused the double decker bus to veer off of the road and crash into a concrete bridge support pillar.

Because there were 81 passengers on board of 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.  In my blog last week, I talked about the number of recent fatalities and serious injuries I have read about in the last month alone due to tire blowouts!  In both instances that I talked about last week, 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 that had 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 yesterday, 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, but, 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 travelling 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.

In these economic times with gas prices being so high, 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 sometime enhance your trip.  You never expect a tire to blow out and your bus to be slammed into 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?

As I have stated in earlier blogs, 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 inevitable 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 that have the resources to hire accident investigators and accident reconstructionist.  In the days quickly following such a crash there is valuable investigative clues. First and foremost, it is important that the tire that blew out be secured. Securing the tire for analysis is crucial. As well, investigators can examine the landscape for clues such as tire marks and condition of the bus to determine 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 and often, individuals will 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 as a victim this is not in your best interest.    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 full evaluation, including x-rays and MRI’s to fully assess your medical health.  I see far too many people that accept whatever the insurance company offers, if the insurance company simply covers 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 filing a lawsuit. Talking to a personal injury attorney helps you gain information in order 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 1(314) 276-1681. We are available at any time and be reached directly to answer your questions and consultations are always free.

Sources:  Gosling, K. Megabus Crash on I-55 Near Litchfield, Illinois, KSDK 8/3/12 http://www.ksdk.com/news/article/330989/40/Megabus-crash-closes-SB-I-55-near-Litchfield

Slater, J. Authorities Say Blown Tire Apparently Caused Illinois Bus Crash that Killed 1, Injured Dozens. The Associated Press 8/3/12http://www.newser.com/article/da0e0gp81/authorities-say-blown-tire-apparently-caused-illinois-bus-crash-that-killed-1-injured-dozens.html