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A tour bus crash in Southern California left five passengers with what doctors described as "pretty basic blunt-force trauma injuries."
In all, more than 50 passengers were injured when the bus -- en route to the San Manuel Indian Bingo and Casino in Highland, east of Los Angeles -- overturned on a freeway. Another three people in cars caught up in the crash were also hurt.
Who may be to blame for the bus careening and overturning?
The tour bus company, called Da Zhen, regularly offers rides to casinos in California and Las Vegas.
There is some speculation that the Da Zhen bus driver may have contributed to the accident as one of the victims were reportedly nervous about the driver's speed before the crash, reports Southern California's KNBC-TV.
Soon after, the bus driver braked hard before swerving across multiple lanes. The bus ended up on its side, reports the Los Angeles Times.
If it's true that the driver was speeding, he and Da Zhen are likely to be hit with dozens of lawsuits. Speeding is often cited in negligence cases. Because Da Zhen was a common carrier that was contracted to carry passengers, it owed a higher duty of care to its patrons -- more than an ordinary person driving a friend.
However, if the accident was caused by a latent bus defect, then a product liability lawsuit against the manufacturer may be appropriate.
Emotional Distress Claims Possible
In addition to recovering medical costs for their physical injuries, many of the passengers may be able to claim emotional distress.
The patients treated for injuries ranged from 60 to 80 years old, and were described as "very quiet" and in a state of shock following the crash, reports the Times.
In cases alleging negligent (rather than intentional) infliction of emotional distress, courts will typically require some sort of physical injury as well.
In this case, traumatized passengers can try to claim the driver -- and through vicarious liability, the tour bus company -- are responsible for their emotional anguish, stress or even stress-related medical conditions that followed the crash.
An investigation into the tour bus crash is currently underway. If the bus was equipped with a black box and on-board video camera, then those items will tell investigators more about what happened on the way to the casino.
Meeting with a lawyer can help you understand your options and how to best protect your rights. Visit our attorney directory to find a lawyer near you who can help.