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School Bus Involved in Fatal Iowa Fire was Previously Part of a Recall

Federal investigators looking into a school bus fire that left an elderly man and a teenager dead in Iowa last week noted that the bus model involved was previously the subject of a major recall. The investigators are now trying to determine if the bus should have undergone repairs as part of that recall.

About the Fatal Iowa School Bus Fire

According the Des Moines Register, the incident occurred around 7 am Tuesday in rural Pottawattamie County. As the bus was backing out of a student’s driveway, the bus somehow ended up in a ditch and caught fire.

Emergency responders arrived roughly 15 minutes later, but were unable to get inside the bus. By the time the fire was extinguished, 16-year-old Megan Klindt and 74-year-old Donald Hendricks were dead. There were no other occupants aboard the bus when the fire occurred.

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), as part of their investigation, will analyze possible causes of the fire as well as examine maintenance records of the bus, medical records of the driver, and flammability of the bus.

The NTSB will also check if the bus should have undergone electrical system repairs as part of a recall of certain 2005 models of International brand school buses.

School Bus Fire Statistics

Overall, school bus fires are very rare.

From 2004 through 2013, fewer than two people died per year as a result of a school bus catching fire, with only 12 deaths reported over the 10-year-period.

A study by the National Fire Protection Association determined that bus and school bus fires killed an average of three people per year from 1999 to 2003, accounting for just 1 percent of vehicle fire deaths.

About 160 people were injured in school bus fires from 2004 through 2013.

What Should I Look for in Hiring a Commercial Motor Vehicle Injury Lawyer?

If you have been injured or lost a loved one in a commercial vehicle accident, it is essential that you obtain competent legal representation. Choosing the right attorney to handle your commercial vehicle accident claim can make the difference in you and your family getting the financial recovery you deserve.

Here are a few items you should consider when looking for a personal injury attorney to handle your case.

Hire an Attorney with Significant Trial Experience

When you have a personal injury claim, especially one that involves a company or commercial entity, it is important that you hire an attorney that has a trial record.

It should go without saying that an attorney who is at-home in the courtroom and has a history of securing record breaking verdicts knows how to build a strong case. More than that, having an attorney who is known for securing favorable verdicts in the courtroom can deter the insurance company from going to trial at all. They often feel the safer option is to settle out of court rather than risk legal fees on a trial that could result in them paying out even more in damages.

Finally, if your case should go to trial, you need someone with an intimate understanding of courtroom procedures and the nuances juror interaction. It is a safe bet that the lawyers representing the company you are suing have spent time in the courtroom; you need an attorney who has spent even more.

Hire an Attorney Who Has Access to Top Expert Witnesses

Expert witnesses are essential in commercial vehicle cases as they possess specialized knowledge and can provide unique insight into the rules, regulations, and events related to your collision.

Thomas J. Henry has spent decades building professional relationships with the most knowledgeable and respected experts. Each expert witness we engage has been thoroughly examined and questioned before ever participating in your case. In utilizing expert witnesses, it is vital that you research each and every person before employing them for your case.

Some expert witness that may benefit your commercial accident claim could include:

  • Accident Investigation Experts
  • Hazardous Materials Experts
  • FMCSA Compliance Consultants
  • Forensic Engineers
  • Accident Re-constructionists
  • Human Factors Forensic Science Experts (reaction time, fatigue and distracted driving)
  • General Equipment Technical Expert

Hire an Attorney with the Resources to Take on Large Companies

When hiring an attorney to represent you in your commercial vehicle accident claim, it is important that they have the resources to take on the trucking company and its insurers.

Trucking companies often employ teams of attorneys whose sole purpose is to challenge and discredit claims dealing with collisions. One tactic often employed by these attorneys is waiting out the plaintiff. As the medical bills pile up and the plaintiff’s attorney struggles to keep up with litigation expenses, both the plaintiff and their attorney are more likely to accept a less-than-fair settlement.

Thomas J. Henry employs a team of more than 100 attorneys, all of whom are ready to take the fight to the trucking company responsible for your accident. Further, these attorneys are backed by the financial resources only a large firm like Thomas J. Henry can provide.

This means they have access to the latest technology and will have the money to fight the long fight, all the way through trial if necessary.

Hire an Attorney Who Operates on a Contingency-Fee Basis

Lawsuits can be expensive; however, Thomas J. Henry takes the risk out of filing a lawsuit by offering the “No Fee Guarantee.” The “No Fee Guarantee” means that Thomas J. Henry operates on a contingency-fee basis – you do not pay any attorney’s fees unless and until your case is won.

Thomas J. Henry only takes on the cases we believe we can win. This allows the firm to invest the money needed to develop the cases and take them to trial when necessary. In the meantime, clients are able to focus on getting better instead of worrying about the money being spent.

Thomas J. Henry believes it is the client’s job to heal; the rest is the duty of their attorney.

Contact an Experienced Commercial Vehicle Accident Attorney

Thomas J. Henry Injury Attorneys have handled a multitude of 18-wheeler accidents over the past two decades and continue to handle many of the largest 18-wheeler accident cases throughout the United States. Whether the company is small or large, our success is not an accident; it is because we understand how trucking companies operate. We represent clients/victims all over the country.

Thomas J. Henry Injury Attorneys are available to respond to trucking accidents at any hour, day or night. Our lawyers understand that the immediate acquisition, or acquiring, of evidence is paramount to understanding how the accident occurred. Remember, your choice does matter. Contact our offices – we are available 24/7, nights and weekends.


What Is a Commercial Vehicle?

In the United States, “commercial vehicle” is a pretty broad term. Many times, when a laymen thinks of a commercial vehicle, they thing of a delivery truck or an 18-wheeler; however, in the United States, commercial vehicles can also include fleet vehicles, passenger transports, company cars, and other vehicles used for business.

When Does a Vehicle Become a Commercial Vehicle?

In the United States, a vehicle may be considered a commercial vehicle if:

  • It is titled or registered to a company or a corporation.
  • Is used for business, but is under the name of a sole proprietor for that business.
  • Is a leased vehicle and in the name of the financial institution that owns it.
  • Exceeds a certain weight or class, even if it is not used commercially or company owned. Generally, any vehicle with a weight rating of 26,001 pounds or more is considered a commercial vehicle, regardless of use or ownership.
  • Is used in the transportation of hazardous materials.

Note that a vehicle used for business may remain privately licensed depending on the amount of time it is used for business.

What Are Some Common Examples of Commercial Vehicles?

Among the commercial vehicles that most occupy public roadways are:

  • Large trucks
  • Box trucks
  • Delivery trucks
  • Semi trucks
  • Tractor-trailers
  • Travel trailers exceeding 10,000 pounds
  • Large vans (intended to carry more than 15 passengers)
  • Taxicabs
  • Coaches
  • Buses
  • Heavy equipment (backhoes, bulldozers, large farm equipment, etc.)

How Are Commercial Trucks Classified?

Commercial trucks are further classified by their gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR). In the United States, the classifications are as follows:

  • Class 1- GVWR ranges from 0 to 6,000 pounds
  • Class 2- GVWR ranges from 6,001 to 10,000 pounds
  • Class 3- GVWR ranges from 10,001 to 14,000 pounds
  • Class 4- GVWR ranges from 14,001 to 16,000 pounds
  • Class 5- GVWR ranges from 16,001 to 19,500 pounds
  • Class 6- GVWR ranges from 19,501 to 26,000 pounds
  • Class 7- GVWR ranges from 26,001 to 33,000 pounds
  • Class 8- GVWR is anything above 33,000 pounds

Were You Injured in a Commercial Vehicle Accident? Contact Thomas J. Henry

Thomas J. Henry has helped people injured in company vehicle accidents across the United States stand up against some of the largest corporations in the country. For decades, we have helped victims of company car crashes obtain record-breaking verdicts, settlements, and judgments for the pain and suffering they incurred due to an employee or employer’s negligence. If you or a loved one has been injured in a company vehicle accident, you need a law firm that will provide you with representation backed by the financial and legal resources necessary to win your case. Contact us today for a free case review. Our experienced company vehicle accident lawyers are available 24/7, nights and weekends to hear your claim.

If I Was Involved in a Commercial Vehicle Accident, is the Employer of the Driver Also Responsible?

Employers are generally responsible for a driver’s conduct when operating a commercial vehicle like an 18-wheeler. Because of this, lawsuits can be brought against the driver’s employer in addition to the driver when an accident results in damages or injuries.

When Can I Sue a Commercial Driver’s Employer?

As long as the truck driver is an employee of a commercial vehicle or trucking company, your lawsuit will seek damages from both the driver as well the company who employs driver. Texas law is very clear on this, stating that commercial vehicle companies are responsible for the negligent actions of their employees.

In addition to being responsible for driver negligence, commercial vehicle companies are also responsible for ensuring:

  • Their drivers have obtained and maintained proper licensing to operate a commercial vehicle
  • Their drivers have not committed any disqualifying criminal offenses that would compromise their CDL
  • Their drivers understand they are prohibited from using handheld devices while driving
  • Their drivers are in compliance with hours of service regulations at all times
  • Their vehicles are properly maintained and inspected regularly

Failure to adhere to these regulations or any others coded in Title 49 of the Code of Federal Regulations and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Act (FMCSA) can result in a trucking company being held responsible for your injuries.

In some cases, your attorney may decide it is best for you to sue the trucking company only and not the driver.  This is because you are seeking compensation for your injuries and any other damages. While you may want to bring the driver to justice, limiting your lawsuit to the company might be the most financially viable action and the most likely to help you in your recovery.

What Should I Look Out for When Suing a Commercial Vehicle Company?

Most commercial vehicle companies will attempt to distance themselves from an accident and their own drivers in an attempt to limit their liability, even if this means throwing the employee under the bus. Commercial vehicle companies also employ teams of investigators and attorneys whose sole purpose is to challenge claims and reduce the amount of money that the commercial vehicle company has to payout.

Among the tactics commercial vehicle companies will use to dismantle your claim are:

  1. Recorded Statements – The commercial vehicle company’s insurer will contact you after the accident requesting a recorded statement. While they claim this is to they can better understand your injuries and streamline the payout process, they are actually trying to get you on record saying something that harms you case. It is essential that you speak to an attorney before providing such a statement. Do not be bullied, you have no legal requirement to answer the insurer’s questions without the advice of your attorney.
  2. Low Settlement Offers – The insurance company wants to settle your claim for as little as possible. They know that you are in a state of chaos and confusion and will take advantage of it. While it may be tempting, do not accept the insurers offer without consulting with your attorney first.
  3. Destroying Evidence – Often times, a commercial vehicle company will attempt to destroy or alter records or evidence after an accident with the goal of hiding their mistakes. An attorney can file a court ordered temporary restraining order in order to preserve any and all evidence in the state that it was in at the time of your accident.
  4. Not Ordering a Drug or Alcohol Test – Some companies will tell drivers involved in an accident not to submit to a drug or alcohol test if they think the driver was impaired when the crash occurred. The driver may feel pressured as being under the influence while behind the wheel can end their career. Federal regulations actually require drivers get tested following a crash. Still, the fine for violating this regulation is much less damaging that the repercussions of a trucker driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
  5. Delaying the Claim – May commercial vehicle companies will attempt to delay your claim in the hopes that you will lose the will and financial resources to fight. Thomas J. Henry has the money and manpower to see your case through to the end and knows how to drive a case forward.

What Should I Do If I’ve Been Involved in a Commercial Vehicle Accident?

If you or a loved one has suffered a serious injury after being involved in an 18-wheeler accident, contact Thomas J. Henry immediately. Our experienced commercial trucking injury attorneys are available to respond to semi-truck accidents at any hour, day or night. Our lawyers understand that the immediate acquisition of evidence is paramount to understanding how the accident occurred. We will take immediate action on your case. Remember, your choice does matter. Contact us today for a free legal consultation. Attorneys are available 24/7, nights and weekends.

What are the Common Causes of Commercial Vehicle Accidents?

Commercial motor vehicles, or company vehicles, come in many different forms: 18-wheelers, box trucks, van, cars, and garbage trucks. Any vehicle that is owned and operated by a company and is used by employees or agents of the company are considered commercial vehicles. Some commercial vehicles, like semi-trucks, require drivers to hold commercial driver’s licenses.

Commercial vehicle accidents are oftentimes caused by:

  • Following too closely
  • Improper lane changes and other traffic violations
  • Driver fatigue
  • Failure to maintain vehicle
  • Improper loading

Commercial truck operators are required to abide by hours of service regulations, which ensure that a driver is well rested and has a proper amount of sleep before getting behind the wheel. A fatigued driver can cause catastrophic injuries in a crash by falling asleep at the wheel.

When you are injured in a crash involving a commercial vehicle, who can be held accountable?

Who is Liable for Your Injuries in a Commercial Vehicle Wreck?

Commercial vehicle and truck accident cases can be complex because there are multiple parties that could be held liable for your injuries, including the vehicle’s driver, the company that owns or operates the commercial motor vehicle, or the vehicle’s manufacturer.

Companies are generally responsible for the actions of their employees. Unqualified management of a commercial vehicle fleet could lead to unqualified drivers. Employers may be liable for:

  • Failure to properly train drivers
  • Failure to maintain vehicle
  • Negligent hiring practices
  • Failure to verify proper driver licensing or certification
  • Negligent supervision

Deciding who to sue (and where to sue) largely depends on the facts surrounding your case and how the accident was caused. An attorney with experience handling commercial vehicle accidents understands how to determine who the negligent party is.

Thomas J. Henry has helped victims in commercial motor vehicle accidents stand up against large companies and corporations and get them the compensation they deserve. When up against a law firm with extensive legal and financial resources and a proven record of winning big cases, companies are more apt to offer an appropriate settlement amount.

What Kind of Injuries Result from Commercial Vehicle Accidents?

Depending on the size of the commercial motor vehicle and the severity of the wreck, injuries can widely vary. For example, a crash involving an 80,000 lb. semi-truck and a passenger vehicle could result in catastrophic injuries or death. Common commercial vehicle accident injuries include:

  • Spinal cord injuries
  • Traumatic brain injuries
  • Internal organ injuries
  • Fractures and broken bones
  • Soft tissue injuries (such as whiplash)
  • Cuts and lacerations
  • Psychological and mental injuries

Contact an Experienced Commercial Vehicle Accident Lawyer

If you have been injured in a crash involving a commercial motor vehicle, contact Thomas J. Henry Injury Attorneys. Our lawyers are available 24/7, nights and weekends to evaluate your claim and provide you with a free case consultation. Choosing an attorney with experience handling complex commercial motor vehicle accident cases is critical, and our firm has a record of achieving real results for injured clients.

Are Employers Responsible for Car Accidents Caused by Their Employees?

When an employee causes a wreck while on the job, the employer is generally responsible. However, there are also situations in which an employer can be held responsible for an employee’s crash even if the employee is not on the clock at the time of the collision.

What is Considered a Company Vehicle?

Commercial and company vehicles are cars, vans, trucks, and buses that are owned and operated by a company to be used by employees or agents of that company. Typical uses of company vehicles are to carry work equipment, to haul goods, to transport non-employee passengers, and to provide employees with work-related transportation.

A few examples of company vehicles are:

  • 18-wheeler
  • Agricultural truck
  • Box or straight truck
  • Car carrier
  • Cargo van
  • Catering truck
  • Cement mixer
  • Construction vehicles
  • Corporate automobiles
  • Delivery truck
  • Delivery van
  • Dump truck
  • Fifth wheel truck
  • Flatbed truck
  • Fleet vehicle
  • Front loader
  • Garbage truck
  • Hearse
  • Ice cream truck
  • Limousine
  • Minivan
  • Motor home
  • Passenger bus
  • Passenger car or van
  • Pickup truck
  • Pump truck
  • Refrigerated truck
  • Repair company vans
  • Ridesharing service vehicles (Uber, Lyft)
  • School bus
  • Semi-truck
  • Sport utility vehicle
  • Step van
  • Tank truck
  • Taxicab or shuttle
  • Tow truck
  • Tractor-trailer
  • Trunk tractor
  • Utility company truck
  • Wheelchair bus
  • Wheelchair van

What Happens When a Crash Occurs While an Employee is On the Clock?

When an employee is on the clock, they are acting as an agent for the company that employees them. As such, companies are generally responsible for the actions of the employee. This relationship-based liability is known as respondeat superior which literally means “let the master answer.”

So, when an accident occurs while an employee is on the job, the employer may be expected answer for the employee’s actions and is subject to liability for the employee’s tort.

What Happens In a Company Vehicle Crash that Occurs While the Employee is Off the Clock?

If an employee is off the clock when a company vehicle accident occurs, the employer may still be liable for the crash in certain situations.

For example, companies and employers are responsible for ensuring any and all company vehicles are properly maintained and are free of dangerous defects. So, if a company vehicle crash involved a vehicle that was improperly maintained, had defective equipments, or was previously subjected to an unaddressed safety recall, the company or employer that owns the vehicle can be held legally liable for any damages.

Even if the vehicle is not defective and the crash was entirely the fault of the off-the-clock employee, Texas law says that companies and employers can be held responsible for providing the employee with a vehicle if the employee’s actions demonstrate that he or she was a reckless, careless, or incompetent driver.

When Should I Contact a Company Vehicle Accident Attorney?

If you were injured in a auto accident that involved a company or commercial vehicle, contact Thomas J. Henry right away. Many large companies employee teams of lawyers whose sole job is to challenge auto accident claims and limit the company’s liability for such claims. Contacting an experienced attorney as soon as an accident occurs will help ensure that all relevant evidence is preserved and secured and that the company is not able to avoid their legal responsibility.

Thomas J. Henry has handled a multitude of company vehicle accidents over the past two decades and continues to handle many of the largest 18-wheeler accident cases throughout the United States. Whether the company is small or large, our success is not an accident; it is because we understand how companies operate. We represent clients/victims all over the country.

Thomas J. Henry injury attorneys are available to respond to company vehicle accidents at any hour, day or night. Our lawyers understand that the immediate acquisition of evidence is paramount to understanding how the accident occurred. Remember, your choice does matter. Contact our offices – we are available 24/7, nights and weekends.



10 Injured After Taxi Crashes into Pedestrians at Boston Airport

At least 10 people were hospitalized Monday after a taxi crashed into a group of pedestrians standing near the taxi pool at Boston’s Logan International Airport.

Police Believe Driver Hit Gas Instead of Brake

According to Reuters, police are conducting a preliminary investigation and believe the crash was unintentional. Media citing unnamed sources said it is believed that the taxi driver hit the gas instead of the brake pedal.

Emergency crews responded to the scene where at least 10 people were transported to the hospital.

An image from the scene showed the taxi resting next to a building with its front hood buckled.

Pedestrian Accident Statistics

The following information was provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):

  • 4,735 pedestrians were killed in traffic accidents in the Unites States in 2013. This averages to one death every 2 hours.
  • An additional 150,000 people were injured in traffic accidents in 2013.
  • The majority of pedestrian deaths occur in urban areas at non-intersection locations at night.
  • On average, pedestrians are 1.5 times more likely to be killed each trip than occupants of passenger vehicles.


Patient Killed in Georgia Ambulance Crash

A patient being transported from a nursing home to an emergency room was killed Friday morning when the ambulance he was in crashed in Rome, Georgia.

Details of the Fatal Ambulance Crash

News Channel 9 reports that the Puckett EMS ambulance was traveling southbound on Martha Berry Parkway (Highway 28) when it left the road way and struck two trees before overturning.

55-year-old Tony Patterson was fatally injured in the crash.

The driver of the ambulance and a medic in the back were transported to the hospital in stable condition.

Authorities are still investigating the cause of the accident.

National Traffic Accident Statistics

  • The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recorded 35,092 traffic-related deaths in 2015.
  • This marked a 7.2-percent increase from 2014, the largest percentage increase recorded in nearly 50 years.
  • Of those killed in 2015:
    • 22,441 were occupants of passenger vehicles
    • 5,376 were pedestrians
    • 4,976 were motorcyclists
    • 818 were pedalcyclists
    • 667 were occupants of large trucks
    • 227 were listed as other or as unknown
  • An additional 2,443,000 people were injured in automobile accidents in the U.S. in 2015.

Three Killed in Indiana Dump Truck Crash

Three people are dead and at least one person is injured following a head-on collision involving a dump truck in Boone Township, Indiana.

Details of the Boone Township Dump Truck Accident

According to the Chicago Tribune, the fatal crash occurred at 319 W. Indiana 8 around 4:14 pm Tuesday.

Police say the accident occurred when a 2002 Mercury Mountaineer tried to avoid rear-ending a vehicle stopped for traffic in the eastbound lanes and veered into the westbound lane. The SUV was struck by an oncoming dump truck.

Amber Fitzgerald, 45, Bonnie Sowles, 68, and Hannah Cullen, 7, were all pronounced dead the scene. All were occupants of the Mountaineer. A fourth passenger, a 15-year-old girl, transported to Franciscan Health Crown Point before being airlifted to Loyola University Medical Center.

The accident remains under investigation.

Trucking Accident Statistics

  • The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recorded 438,000 trucking accidents in the U.S. in 2014.
  • These accidents result in 3,903 deaths and 111,000 injuries.
  • Of those killed in trucking accidents:
    • 17 percent were occupants of large trucks
    • 73 percent were occupants of other vehicles
    • 10 percent were listed as nonoccupants, including bicyclists and pedestrians
  • Texas led the nation in trucking accident fatalities with 553 trucking-related deaths reported. California followed Texas with 300 recorded deaths.


15 Injured in Multi-Vehicle Accident Involving Sanitation Truck and MTA Bus

At least 15 people were injured in Brooklyn Thursday morning as a result of a multi-vehicle a car, a sanitation truck, and a MTA bus.

Details of the Brooklyn Bus Crash

According to PIX 11, the crash occurred at the intersection of Avenue D and East 40th in East Flatbush.

FDNY reported 15 injuries, including at least two serious injuries.

It is unclear how the accident occurred, and the crash remains under investigation.

National Bus Accident Statistics

The following information is provided by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA):

  • 3,978 large trucks and buses were involved in fatal accidents in 2014.
  • Transit buses accounted for 33 percent of all bus accident recorded between 2004 and 2014. Inner city buses account for 13 percent of bus accidents.
  • From 2009 to 2014, the number of injury related crashes involving buses and large trucks increased by 55 percent.
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