Seven people were injured, one critically, in a Temecula car accident that involved a Riverside Transit agency bus and several other vehicles. According to a news report in The Press-Enterprise, the major injury accident occurred on the Interstate 15 at Winchester Road, the morning of August 10, 2011. California Highway Patrol officials say, the transit bus carrying five passengers slammed into the back of a box truck that was stopped at the end of a line of cars waiting to exit the freeway. The bus driver did not notice the backed up vehicles. The bus driver’s leg was almost severed in the crash and his injuries are potentially life-threatening. Six others were transported to area hospitals with non-life-threatening injuries.
My heart goes out to all the injured victims of this bus accident. I wish them all the very best for a speedy and complete recovery. Please keep them in your thoughts and prayers.
Car Accident Statistics
According to CHP’s 2009 Statewide Integrated Traffic Records System, there were seven fatalities and 367 injuries involving car accidents in Temecula. In Riverside County as a whole, 203 people died and 7,974 were injured due to car accidents during the same year.
What Caused This Chain-Reaction Crash?
Based on this news report, there are several unanswered questions here. What caused the bus driver to rear-end the stopped traffic? Why was he unable to see that traffic was slowing or stopped ahead? Was the driver distracted or inattentive at the time? Was he driving at a high rate of speed? Was he following the other vehicles too closely?
Rear-end accidents are often caused by drivers following too close behind another vehicle or by distracted drivers. California Vehicle Code Section 21703 states: “The driver of a motor vehicle shall not follow another vehicle more closely than is reasonable and prudent, having due regard for the speed of such vehicle and the traffic upon, and the condition of, the roadway.”
Was This a Dangerous Roadway?
In this case, officials say, the site of the crash is also notorious for similar traffic accidents that are caused by congestion and backup. Caltrans has been working on a $200-million road project at that location for the last 12 years to alleviate congestion. The Winchester Road interchange is apparently one of the busiest in the area. The southbound freeway around Winchester Road had a rate of traffic collisions that is more than 50 percent higher than the state average, according to a 2009 study done by Caltrans and the city of Temecula. So, there is a question here as to whether a dangerous roadway may have caused or contributed to this crash.
If it is determined that the bus driver’s negligence caused this accident, then, both the driver and the transit authority can be held liable for the injuries and damages caused. Injured victims can seek compensation for all medical expenses, lost wages, hospitalization and other damages. If a dangerous roadway led to this accident, then, the governmental entity responsible for maintaining that stretch of the freeway can also be held liable. In that case, the bus driver, who has apparently suffered a catastrophic injury here, can seek workers compensation benefits and file a claim against the public entity responsible for maintaining the roadway.
Under California Government Code section 911.2, any personal injury claim against a governmental agency must be filed within 180 days of the incident. A Riverside personal injury lawyer will be able to better advise injured victims in such cases about their legal rights and options.