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Driver in fatal New York bus accident could face civil lawsuits

New Yorkers may remember hearing about a terrible bus accident that occurred in March of last year. The bus driver accused of causing the crash, which killed 15 passengers and injured many more, stood trial last month on manslaughter charges, but he could face even more legal repercussions if the families of those who died decide to file a wrongful death lawsuit against him.

The accident happened early in the morning on Interstate 95 after the bus, which  was carrying a large group of gamblers from Chinatown to a casino in Connecticut,  ran off the road and crashed into a guardrail and eventually a road sign. In addition to the 13 people who died at the scene of the crash, two more people died at a hospital and another 15 people suffered serious injuries.

An investigation of the crash led the National Transportation Safety Board to blame the crash on driver fatigue. Prosecutors have followed suit, saying that the 41-year-old defendant was an experienced bus driver who should have been able to determine whether he was too tired to continue driving.

The driver claims a tractor-trailer cut him off, and that he ran off the road when he tried to swerve out of the way. But passengers have said that there was no truck, and the prosecution plans to call those people as witnesses in the driver's trial. Despite his feelings of guilt, the driver has pleaded not guilty.

Unfortunately, this accident wasn't an isolated event -- another bus crashed over the past summer just a couple miles from this bus accident scene. And driver fatigue doesn't only cause buses to crash. Every one of us is capable of nodding off behind the wheel due to a lack of adequate sleep, putting ourselves and everyone else on the road at great risk.

The families of the people who died in the March 2011 crash will never be the same as a result of the driver's actions. More than a year and a half after the accident, those loved ones are still struggling, emotionally and quite likely financially. Not only are medical, funeral and burial expenses a burden, but many of those who died were those families' breadwinners. The loss of a household's primary income only compounds the pain these families continue to feel.

Source: The Wall Street Journal, "NY prosecutors: Driver in fatal crash knew risks," Sept. 27, 2012

· Our firm understands the emotional and financial difficulties of a fatal accident. If you'd like to learn more about our practice, please visit our New York and New Jersey wrongful death page.

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