According to reporting from US News and World Report, federal investigators at the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) have reached a final determination on the cause of a West Texas prison bus accident. The deadly crash, which occurred in January 2015, was blamed, in large part, on a damaged highway guardrail. Tragically, two prison employees and eight inmates were killed in the accident.
The Highway Authorities Failed to Act
The report from the NTSB, concludes that the highway guardrail was originally damaged in an accident that had occurred on the previous day. This finding confirms the initial findings that were made public earlier last year by the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT). Conditions on that January day were less than ideal. The report also noted that the highway was abnormally slick from the cold weather. However, it does not appear that the weather conditions played a significant role in causing the accident. Multiple eyewitnesses were quoted stating that a large piece of the highway guardrail was displaced and was sticking out approximately two feet into the left lane of the highway. This section of highway was particularly narrow, as it was part of a bridge that was overpassing railroad tracks. The bus was attempting to pass an eighteen wheeler, using the left lane, when the bus struck that damaged section of guardrail. It caused the bus to veer sharply left and sent it down the embankment of the overpass. The Texas highway authorities have a legal responsibility to keep the state’s roadways in reasonably safe condition. Based on the findings of this report, it is difficult to believe that authorities did enough in this case to remove unreasonable safety hazards.
When Can You Take Legal Action for Unsafe Road Conditions?
When someone is serious injured, all negligent parties need to be held accountable. This includes local and state highway agencies. Negligence can be challenging to prove in these cases, but you should take legal action if you, or a family member, was injured by the negligence of highway authorities. In road maintenance negligence cases, your attorney will need to answer two critical questions:
- Did the authorities know, or should they have known, about the existence of the safety hazard?
- Could the authorities have taken reasonable action to have alleviated the safety risk?
If the answers to both of those questions are yes, then you may have a valid case. If it is true that the guardrail on the bridge was sticking out on to the left lane of the highway for an entire day, then that would strongly suggests that the authorities would have had time to gain knowledge of the risk and would have had an opportunity to take reasonable action to alleviate danger. They could have removed that section of guardrail from the road, or they could have closed off access to that lane. Ultimately, if you have been injured because of a preventable roadway hazard, an experienced auto accident lawyer should review your case as soon as possible.
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Our firm works aggressively to help injured car accident victims recover full and fair compensation. If you have been injured in a Texas car accident, please contact our San Antonio office today. Let our experienced legal team review your case free of charge.