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Tennessee Supreme Court issues holding in bus accident case

Abstract: A tragic bus accident in Tennessee reminds passengers that busses are not always safe. Tennessee's Supreme Court also recently heard a bus accident case, reminding passengers that compensation may be available if injured in similar accidents.
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    December 10, 2013 /24-7PressRelease/ -- Tennessee Supreme Court issues holding in bus accident case

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A tragic bus accident in October of 2013 took the lives of eight and injured 14 serves as a reminder that bus accidents are not uncommon in Tennessee. This accident comes shortly after Tennessee's Supreme Court issued a holding on a separate accident addressing victim's rights when injured in a bus accident.

The most recent bus accident occurred along Interstate 40. It involved a bus, a big-rig and a Chevrolet Tahoe, according to a report by USA Today. It began when the bus blew a tire. Due to the blown tire, the driver of the bus veered out of his lane, clipped the Tahoe and hit the big rig. The big rig, according to the report, burst into flames after the collision. Six passengers perished in the bus, three died in the Tahoe and the driver of the tractor-trailer also died. Four people were air lifted to local hospitals for treatment of serious injuries and an additional eight were transported by ambulance.

Basics of the Tennessee Supreme Court bus accident case

The bus accident addressed by Tennessee's Supreme Court could provide some guidance for those injured in this most recent crash. In May of 2013, the Tennessee Supreme Court issued an opinion on whether or not passengers file a claim for injuries received in a bus accident. The case, Clifton A. Lake et al. v. Memphis Landsmen LLC et al, began in 1998 when a concrete truck collided with a shuttle bus. According to the opinion, the bus was transporting passengers from Memphis International Airport to a nearby rental car facility.

During the crash, a passenger was thrown through one of the side windows of the bus and suffered severe brain damage. He filed suit against a variety of companies involved including the manufacturer of the glass used in the bus, the owner of the bus and the manufacturer of the bus. In his suit, the victim alleged the driver of the bus "failed 'to exercise ordinary and reasonable care' in his operation of the bus," directly contributing to the accident which caused his injuries. Among his allegations was the fact that if the bus had used seatbelts and a safer form of glass he would not have sustained the injuries he currently suffers from.

The court stated that claims focusing on seatbelts and the type of glass used in the bus were not allowed because they were preempted by federal safety law. When a legal question is already answered by federal law, the Supremacy Clause of the United States Constitution is invoked. Essentially, this clause states that federal law trumps state law and individual claims. Ultimately, the Supreme Court found that these two issues were not addressed by federal law and allowed the case to return to the Court of Appeals for further consideration.

Implications for bus accident victims

The victim in this accident suffered serious brain injuries. As a result, he will need extensive medical and rehabilitative treatment. These treatments can be costly so the plaintiffs in this case are hoping to hold the bus company and other companies connected to the accident responsible for the injuries. If successful, the plaintiff could receive compensation to help cover these costs.

If you were injured in a similar accident, compensation may also be available for your situation. Contact an experienced Tennessee personal injury attorney to discuss your case and help you examine your legal options.

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