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A class-action lawsuit seeks financial damages for the families of five people killed and those injured last November between a school bus and commuter bus.

According to reports, the school bus driver slammed into the back of a Ford Mustang, struck a cement pillar, and veered into the oncoming lane where it collided with the commuter bus. Both bus drivers and four transit bus passengers died; 11 others were injured in the crash. There were no children on the bus at the time.

The National Transportation Safety Board released its report on April 11 citing three safety recommendations, and urging the school’s transportation department to take a good look at its policies on how it chooses bus drivers. According to information obtained by investigators, the school bus driver had a history of hypertension, diabetes and seizures. In the past five years, he had been involved in at least 12 crashes or incidents while operating a school bus or personal vehicle; however, school officials allowed him to transport students. The NTSB investigation also identified a number of “deficiencies” in the vetting process for school bus drivers and learned the driver did not have a valid commercial license.

The lawsuit alleges that the 67-year-old school bus driver had a history of seizures, hypertension, and diabetes, all of which should have disqualified him from driving under federal and state laws. Yet, the company which provides medical certifications for commercial drivers, approved the man to drive a bus despite his poor health, according to the lawsuit.

In addition to the healthcare company, the lawsuit names the bus driver’s employer and its owners as defendants. The suit seeks at least $10 million in damages.

The lawsuit is a stark reminder of the tragic consequences of not having proper oversight and safety procedures in place to ensure the people driving buses are properly qualified and medically able to carry out their duties. With so many lives depending on public transportation, it’s vital that we hold these companies accountable to prevent further accidents in the future. Until transportation companies take more time to review driver qualifications and take steps to improve its processes and procedures, the risks posed by unqualified drivers will remain.

Mark Bello has practiced law for 40 years. He is currently the CEO and General Counsel of Lawsuit Financial Corporation, a pro-justice lawsuit funding company, and the author of the legal thriller “Betrayal of Faith” available on major online book store sites.

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