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When an Auto Accident Isn’t All That Simple

Posted in Blog on March 23, 2015

A majority of vehicle accidents are the result of two cars in a collision with one another. But sometimes, it so happens that the situation is not straightforward and there’s a scramble to figure out who is at fault.

Such is the case of a Roaring Fork Transportation Authority bus that swerved to avoid an accident with a John Deere tractor. During the process of maneuvering around the tractor, the bus rolled, resulting in multiple passengers receiving injuries. The incident happened in October of 2013, but the case is still moving its way through the courts as the details are being hammered out.

Separate Trials For Complex Cases

The case initially proceeded as one trial. That is, all of the plaintiffs (injured parties) sued in concert with one another for one, cohesive court case. But, as it turns out, things are not as clear as they should be.

As a result, the judge overseeing the case ruled that separate trials are necessary, one to determine liability and the other to determine who is financially responsible. The judge made his ruling based on the decision that the case is complex and is not easily resolved in one trial.

The case began when the driver of the RFTA bus was driving down Highway 82 when he came upon the tractor towing a field mower in the right lane. The driver was going between 60 and 65 mph when the tractor came into view. There was very little time to react when the driver saw the tractor. Instead of running into the back of the tractor, the bus driver swerved at the last possible second.

As a result of this action, the bus went into the highway median, then back onto the highway, collided with a Jersey barrier, which then caused the bus to tip onto its side. A total of six passengers were ejected from the bus, and the remaining passengers suffered injuries that ranged from broken bones to concussions.

Ten people, nine of whom were in the bus and the husband of another passenger, sued the RFTA, the bus and tractor driver, and the owner of the tractor. An attorney for the RFTA denied that the bus driver was at fault for the accident, and sued the owner and driver of the tractor.

At issue is the negligent behavior of the driver of the tractor. The RFTA lawsuits allege that the driver of the tractor was improperly using the roadway by going 40 mph under the speed limit. The lawsuits brought by the plaintiffs allege that both the bus driver and the tractor driver acted negligently, resulting in the crash and injuries.

The judge split the case into two trials in order to determine liability while protecting victim’s rights. It is not an easy task to figure out how much responsibility for their actions each party has in a case such as this. Separating the case into two trials helps determine who is responsible for what, along with granting a fair settlement for all who are involved. Learn more at: www.zanerhardenlaw.com.

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