A tragic school bus accident in Chattanooga has made national headlines for all of the wrong reasons, as at least six children were killed and over 20 more injured. Now, the bus’s operating company, Durham School Services, finds itself in some serious hot water after their poor safety record has been thrust into the spotlight.
Durham is one of the largest school transportation companies in the nation, with over 13,000 busses and drivers employed across the nation. They are the contracted operator for several counties here in Tennessee, including in Shelby and Hamilton counties. However, despite having what the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration indicates as a “satisfactory” safety record, it has a substantially worse history with crashes and accidents. In fact, the Administration estimates that 93% of motor carriers in the same group have a better on-road performance history.
In just the past 24 months, Durham has been involved in almost 350 crashes, 200 of which involved the vehicle being towed away. In Tennessee, Durham busses have been involved in 34 separate crashes, including 27 in Shelby County alone. A 2014 investigation revealed that Durham wrecked 32 busses in Shelby County alone in one school year. Reportedly, half of them could have been prevented.
Emerging details regarding the operator of this particular bus have cast an even further shadow on the company’s driver selection process. While his criminal history was clean, the 24-year-old driver reportedly had a long list of complaints filed against him, and had one previous license suspension in 2014 after a crash.
Is Durham Liable?
Transportation companies, like Durham School Services, are legally responsible for the actions of their drivers. By putting an unqualified driver behind the wheel of a commercial vehicle, companies risk that driver causing serious injuries as a result of a lack of ability.
Durham has a history of hiring unqualified drivers. Since December 2014, there have been eight driver violations filed against them, seven of which involved a driver who did not even have the proper license to drive a bus. Despite the company’s claim that all of their drivers undergo a rigorous vetting process, including a background check and drug testing, the records show that their safety record is not great.
While details of the crash investigation continue to emerge, it seems likely that Durham will be liable for the injuries and wrongful deaths of the kids involved in the accident. In addition to the negative press, this incident could be devastating for the company.
If you or a loved one has been injured as a result of a commercial vehicle crash, such as a school bus accident, do not hesitate to let a skilled Morristown car accident attorney handle your case. At The Terry Law Firm, we combine the resources and experience of a big-city firm with the attention and client service you would expect from a small firm. Our elite team of attorneys have earned numerous industry accolades, including recognition from Super Lawyers, and being named to the Top 100 Trial Lawyers by The National Trial Lawyers.Call The Terry Law Firm today to schedule your free consultation by dialing (423) 536-6220.