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Bus driver falls asleep, sending 10 passengers to the hospital

With Winter upon us, drivers around Maryland and around the country are bracing for another season of treacherous driving and dangerous road conditions. However, regardless of whether the road conditions are safe or not, individuals may be involved in an auto accident when they least suspect it.

Recently, for example, a group of teachers were traveling in a charter bus on the Maryland Interstate when the bus driver lost control of the vehicle. Initial reports from the scene indicated the bus driver had passed out or fell asleep while driving, causing the bus to run up an embankment and then go back onto the roadway.

Of the 48 passengers on the bus, 10 were taken to hospitals for injury they sustained in the crash, including at least one with serious injury. Other passengers recounted the incident, which occurred when the bus drifted back and forth off the roadway until coming to a stop along the shoulder.

An accident investigation is currently underway to determine whether the accident happened due to the negligent driver. While police believed the officer may have fallen asleep, they were still investigating the bus for any mechanical issues that could have contributed to the accident.

The distinction between whether the driver fell asleep or whether mechanical issues were to blame is critical in any personal injury suit arising from the accident. In a negligence suit, injured persons must show the driver owed a duty of care, breached that duty of care, which caused and accident and injured the plaintiff.

Accordingly, if mechanical issues caused the accident, a person may not be able to meet one essential element of the case. Negligent driving could still be another cause of the accident, however. Indeed, in the above case, the bus driver was cited for operating a motor vehicle while fatigued and negligent driving.

Therefore, even if mechanical issues would be found, injured persons might still have a successful negligence case against the driver based on his negligent driving. Ultimately, the matter may turn on legal issues of causation, which a qualified attorney can better explain to those affected.

Source: Baltimore Sun, "Several injuries reported after charter bus runs off I-95 in Aberdeen Friday morning," Dec. 21, 2012

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