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Tragedy struck in Chattanooga, Tennessee this week when a school bus accident killed at least six children and injured several more. Authorities say the bus was likely traveling well over the speed limit, making it one of the primary causes for the crash.

The accident has thrust the bus’s operating company, Durham School Services, into the spotlight for some rather unsettling reasons. Durham is one of the nation’s biggest operators of school bus services with more than 13,000 vehicles and drivers across the country. However, that may change as this accident has exposed an unsettling safety record.

Despite the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration saying Durham has a “satisfactory” safety record, the administration’s records state that they have a worse on-road safety record than 93% of motor carriers in the same group.

In the last 24 months alone, Durham’s records show nearly 350 crashes, 142 of them involved injuries, and three of them fatalities.

This brings up a lot of questions about their staffing and driver selection process. Despite their claims that all of their employees go through a strict candidate selection process, Durham has been cited for eight driver violations since December of 2014. Seven of those violations involved drivers who didn’t even have the proper license at all.

The driver of the bus that crashed had no criminal history, but his driving record was also suspect. His license had been suspended once previously for another crash in 2014. Yet Durham still chose to put him back behind the wheel of a bus.

Durham’s Liability

While details from the investigation are still emerging, it’s highly likely that Durham School Services will be held liable for this tragic accident, and this could be devastating for them as a company. A company is liable for who they choose to operate their vehicles, so therefore, even though the driver was the one at fault, Durham will likely face several lawsuits from the families of the children involved for personal injury and wrongful death. Combined with the bad publicity of their safety record, Durham may find itself in some serious trouble going forward.

If you or a loved one has been injured in a car accident, including a school bus or other public transport accident, it is strongly advised that you seek representation from an experienced Springfield personal injury attorney. Attorney Alan R. Goodman has extensive experience helping injury victims of all types of serious accidents. His skilled litigation and dedicated client service have built up a long record of substantial success across more than 37 years of experience. His counsel has even been featured in media, including on renowned programs such as 60 Minutes, Good Morning America, 20/20, NBC Nightly News,and in The New York Times.

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