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Party Bus Accident Raises Questions Of Liability
A recent fatal Los Gatos party bus accident has raised numerous questions. According to reports, one woman died and another suffered life-threatening injuries following a Brad Paisley concert. The incident remains under investigation, but sources indicate that 25-year-old Natasha Noland was killed after she and another woman were ejected from the party bus during a fight. The two were in a physical altercation in the back of the bus when a door opened and the women fell out. The bus ran over Noland, and she was pronounced dead at the scene. The other woman suffered minor injuries.
Serious accidents and wrongful deaths based on the negligence of another person or company can happen when you least expect it. Whenever an accident occurs, it is important to consult with an experienced California personal injury attorney to begin an investigation and determine all possible avenues of recovery. Many times, several different factors may cause or contribute to an accident, and determining all sources of liability is important to ensure you and your family obtain all the compensation you deserve.
Here, review of the bus company involved in the incident reveals that the company has a history of violations, including operating with a suspended license, failing to maintain worker's compensation insurance, failing to drug test employees and enroll them in the state Controlled Substance and Alcohol Testing Certification program, failing to enroll drivers in the DMV Employer Pull Notice program and failing to maintain waybills as required. It is not known why Party Bus of Santa Cruz' license was suspended, but a CHP department that inspects the buses said the Portola Drive company did not pass its inspection in 2009.
In this instance, the California Highway Patrol provides that "it will take weeks to decipher what happened just before midnight Friday." "It's going to be a long and involved process. It was so chaotic out there. Everyone is shaking their head and saying, 'What happened?'"
An the article in the San Jose Mercury News notes that party buses such as the one involved in this fatal accident have become a growing fixture in the Bay Area, and are "promoted as a safe way to party and travel without getting behind the wheel." However, the party buses recently have their skeptics, drawing criticism "for turning a blind eye to teenagers drinking on board and for dumping loads of rowdy, hard-drinking party-goers on specific nightclubs or suburban neighborhoods that don't want them."
In an attempt to rein in this growing problem, state Assemblyman Jerry Hill, D-San Mateo, has authored a bill holding party bus companies liable for their passengers, including minors drinking on board. Hill's legislation is in an effort to close the loopholes between party buses and limousines after the highly publicized death of teenager Brett Studebaker who was killed in a car accident
The proposed law would require party bus companies and their drivers to assume responsibility for their passengers, ensuring minors do not drink onboard or board the bus intoxicated. If minors are onboard, a chaperone age 25 or older must be on the bus to make sure they don't drink.
However, many challenge placing the responsibility on the "party bus" companies but rather find fault with the parents or the party that signs the contract with the bus service. Whether this legislation would have prevented Noland's death is unknown, but it is would be a step in the right direction.
For more information about party bus legislation, or if you or a loved one has suffered a serious personal injury, please contact the top Sacramento personal injury lawyers at the Law Office of Frederick J. Sette for an immediate consultation.