Some bus companies are still underinsured or not insured at all. Federal law says that all bus companies have to be registered with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety administration and carry a DOT number if they are transporting passengers across state lines.
Bus companies must carry a $1.5 million insurance policy if they carry less than 15 passengers and a $5 million policy if they carry more than 15 passengers.
Tragic Bus Death Case in Kansas
Here are the tragic details of an avoidable bus death case that happened in Kansas last year. Jamie Frecks, 26, was on the Midnight Express party bus for a bachelorette party. The fun occasion turned tragic when the bus back doors flew open. Frecks fell out on to the interstate and was fatally struck by three cars.
A lawsuit was filed against the Midnight Express Party Bus company and their owners.
Tragic Accident was Avoidable
According to the lawsuit, the bus owners removed a wheelchair lift in the bus. The wheelchair lift was a safety barrier between passengers and the rear doors. It is alleged that the defendants did not make any repairs that would have prevented the doors from coming unlatched.
According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety administration, the bus was not registered with the Department of Transportation and was not carrying the proper insurance. The lawsuit alleges that if the bus had been properly registered and insured, it would have undergone safety inspections to identify problems on the bus.
The Frecks family settled one part of their lawsuit with one of the corporate defendants that owned Midnight Express. The judge ordered damages totaling $6.78 million paid in a second aspect of the case.
The family say they are considering action against the insurance company that issued the bus policy to Midnight Express.
Underinsured Bus Company Shut Down
The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has ordered Midnight Express, LLC to immediately cease operations. According to the government agency, the bus company’s owners were operating an unauthorized and unsafe commercial transportation service.
“There is no higher priority than safety,” U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said. “Passengers on any commercial van or bus should feel confident they’ve boarded a safe vehicle, one that is properly maintained and operated by a qualified driver. Carriers that cannot meet our safety regulations will not be allowed to operate.”
Take Home Message
When you hire a bus company, make sure you that their DOT number is in good standing and that they have proper insurance as well as a good safety record. You investigate the bus company here by visiting the FMCSA website.