Initially, Cal Fire officials reported that there were no injuries and passengers were able to exit the bus and were standing on the side of the road when rescue workers arrived. However, there has been no update to confirm that the passengers were all uninjured or how many people were involved in the crash.
My sincere wishes for recovery for any injuries in this accident go out to all the victims.
The Problem with Police Diagnosis of Injury
While police officers are trained in first aid and are also trained to assess injuries at the scene of an accident, they are not healthcare professionals. When police report “no injuries,” they are usually relying on the testimony of the victims themselves. This is especially true when there are dozens of potential victims, such as in a tour bus accident. The police are concerned with securing the scene and making an assessment of danger to anyone involved, not with evaluating injuries of “obviously unhurt” people. Further, when asked if they are injured, many victims will say “no” because they are ambulatory and not feeling particularly hurt.
However, the fact that victims self-report “no injuries” does not necessarily mean that they are not actually injured. Some injuries like whiplash can take several days to develop, so victims of accidents should never sign any waivers or releases until they have a few days to recover and ensure that they are not really injured.
Bus Company Liability Issues
Another factor that makes tour bus accidents complicated, besides the potential number of victims and the reliance on self-reporting of injuries, is that tour bus companies are often located out-of-state, and many of the victims themselves may not be from the area. This means that there are legal issues involving multiple jurisdictions and numerous potential complaints, besides the fact that the bus company, bus driver, and the owner of the bus itself may all be different people and organizations.
In order to recover damages for a bus injury, especially one like whiplash which may not appear for several days after the accident, it is very important for victims to retain the services of a professional bus accident attorney. These attorneys understand the complicated issues involved in these accidents and can help victims make the right decisions about their claims.
Source: KCRA News, “Tour bus drives into ditch off Highway 4,” Staff Writers, October 8, 2012