About 10 years ago, a terrible bus rollover happened in South Texas that killed two and injured many other Texans. Justin Hill worked on that case for years fighting off every defense raised by the major bus company. In the end, we held them accountable.
Speaker: Welcome to Hill Law Firm cases, a podcast discussing real world cases handled by Justin Hill and the Hill Law Firm. For confidentiality reasons, names and amounts of any settlements have been removed. However, the facts are real, and these are the cases we handle on a day to day basis. In 2008, a commercial bus rolled over in South Texas. It was all over national news. It shut down the interstate for hours.
I was hired by the families of the two people killed in that crash and about five other people that were injured. That case is one of those cases that took on a life of its own. The defendants decided that they were going to spend as much money as they could fighting the claims and they were going to make no attempt to reasonably or fairly settled them. The case drug on. One of the young men on the bus who was killed had young children and a young wife.
He worked for the company, but at the time he was traveling on a personal ticket. He had gone to visit family. He had taken out a free ticket and the reason for travel was personal. In spite of this, his employer, the bus company, tried to force him to take workers’ comp benefits. Now, they do this to try to limit his recovery because the workers’ comp system limits the amount of damages if somebody is killed on the job.
We thought it was pretty clear he was not on the job at the time, he was dead heading back to work. He worked in a ticket area and he wasn’t a driver, but they took the position he was on the job so they could try to limit his recovery. The other woman killed left four adult children and a husband. The bus companies tried to blame the manufacturer of the bus, the manufacturer of the bus that they continued to buy buses from.
They tried to say that there was some defect in the bus, even though it was 17 years old and had what we calculated to be well more than 4 million miles on it. The driver in this crash had lost control after a driveshaft had broken. Now, drive shaft breaking isn’t the most common problem, but it happens regularly and that doesn’t cause buses to roll over left and right. Now the bus company argued that that is what caused it to rollover.
They hired more than 20 experts and spent what had to be 2 or $3 million defending this case. They wanted make everybody that sued them and their attorneys spend as much money as possible and waste as much time as possible. We never gave up. We stuck to the case, and most of the cases were settled a month out from trial. However, the poor young man who was stuck in the worker’s comp system, his case went up and down in the appeals court for almost 10 years, until finally his case resolved and his wife was finally able to get money to help care for herself and her children.
I’ve said before, we handle a lot of bus cases and this was the bus case that sort of defined my early career. I learned a lot about buses, about the companies, about the manufacturer of buses. I learned a lot about the economics of the companies and how they have such buying power that the manufacturers of buses will change the entire way they build buses to make specialized versions for their big customers. We continue to represent victims in bus crash cases, and we continue to hold bus companies accountable when they do wrong.