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PERRIS BUS ACCIDENT VICTIM RECOVERS $1,100,000.00
On May 2, 2009, at approximately 4:45 p.m., a chartered tour bus was headed northbound on Interstate 215, carrying 24 passengers and the driver. The majority of the passengers on board the bus were elderly and on their way back from a trip to San Diego, sponsored by the City of Colton. Mr. Ralph’s client (a 76 year-old City employee/recreation leader) was in the course and scope of her employment when the accident occurred. She was seated near the front of the bus as the vehicle traveled north on Interstate 215.
According to the Traffic Collision Report, the bus driver had been operating the vehicle in a reckless manner prior to the happening of the accident and, even more importantly, after a sudden deflation of the right front tire. A witness to her driving just before the incident recalled seeing the bus traveling approximately 80 miles per hour while in the San Diego area. In fact, the witness (who was following the bus in another lane) was so alarmed she contemplated calling 9-1-1. The bus speeds fluctuated between 70 and 80 miles per hour for some time, and once it merged onto the northbound 215, the bus pulled away and out of sight from the witness. Shortly thereafter, the right front tire of the bus suddenly deflated.
From the investigation performed by the California Highway Patrol Multidisciplinary Accident Investigation Team (MAIT), it appears the bus driver drove the bus over an object in the roadway causing a sudden deflation and delamination of the right front tire. Thereafter, a host of additional, nearly fatal mistakes were made by the driver, including but not limited to: making an unsafe turning movement, failing to promptly disengage the cruise control (set at 68 miles per hour), applying full throttle acceleration throughout the accident sequence and failing to apply the brakes at all. As a result, the tour bus struck a retaining wall, traveled over 700 feet along that wall and then into a block wall (at nearly a 45 degree angle) protecting a private residence. It was this second impact into the block wall that likely caused the severe injuries and damages sustained by the many victims.
Because of the collision between the bus and the two walls, Mr. Ralph’s client was violently thrown about the interior of the bus. The front portion of the vehicle and the passengers seated in that area, received the brunt of the impact. As referenced above, the client was seated near the very front of the bus and just behind the driver. Because of the dramatic deceleration and lack of restraints, the injuries included:
- Fracture of 11th and 12th ribs
- Ruptured bladder
- Fractured right transverse process at L1 and L2
- Fracture of the left radius and ulna, midshaft
- Fracture of right iliac crest
- Severely comminuted inferior and superior pubic rami fractures
- Avulsion, partial thickness skin loss of left hand, particularly the fifth finger
- Torn rotator cuff in the right shoulder, and
- Lumbar disc herniations
Because of the injuries sustained, the client was airlifted from the accident scene to Loma Linda University Medical Center, where she remained hospitalized for 27 days. After that time, and four surgeries, the patient was transferred to a rehabilitation facility for skilled nursing care and rehabilitation. After 18 days in rehabilitation, the client was transferred again to a care center for further occupational and physical therapy.
After several mediation conferences, all of the 24 cases arising from the Perris Bus Crash were resolved. In spite of the limitations of the available insurance policy, Mr. Ralph’s client recovered the largest settlement, $1,100,000.00.