While limousines have long dominated the private transportation industry, demand for party buses has exploded in recent years. The potential benefits of party buses are numerous. For one, when heading to a sporting event like an Eagles or Phillies game, a party bus does not carry the same underlying social connotations that the use of a limousine would carry. That is, opposed to a limousine that can often be seen as out of touch, the party bus has an every-man appeal. Furthermore, many individuals realize that a party bus is typically more spacious and permits for a greater freedom of movement by guests. That means that people can more freely, converse, and get into the spirit of the party or tailgate.
Unfortunately, the quality of party buses and safety measures employed by busing companies vary significantly. While some party bus companies employ rigorous safety standards, others are fly-by-night operations that are more concerned with profit than riders’ safety. Some bus companies engage in routine safety and maintenance inspections while others fail to exercise this crucial oversight. Furthermore, the training and experience of the driver operating the bus can also often play a significant role. A bus driver who trained in handling potentially intoxicated and unruly customers can often avert dangerous situations. However, the driver’s ability to do so is often contingent upon the bus company providing adequate video monitoring equipment for the passenger area of the party bus.
Party Bus Doors Can Be Substandard & Responsible for Rider Ejection
Consider that the doors on party buses can often be insufficiently reinforced. While many people might dismiss defective party bus doors that are not robust, consider the fact that people are often moving around on a party bus. They may be conversing with others, attempting to get information from the driver, or even attempting to get a better view of the surroundings. However, any time an individual is up and about within the cabin of the party bus, the potential for a trip, slip, or fall is present.
Consider the 2013 accident where a California man died while riding on a party bus. The 24-year-old man was celebrating a friend’s birthday while riding on a party bus in Universal City, California. According to eyewitnesses, the man stood up and walked to the front of the bus to change the music. However, as he was changing the music the bus driver made an unexpected sudden turn. The force from the turn caused the man to lose his balance and to fall. He tumbled into the door and then through it. After being ejected from the bus, police officers report that the man was hit by several cars on the freeway. Thus, the importance of reinforced doors of sufficient strength is obvious. Had the doors been more robust, the man’s life could have likely been saved.
A subsequent investigation revealed significant problems with the party bus. Commercial investigators from the California Highway Patrol inspected the bus after the accident and found that the passenger door was not in proper working condition. The investigation also found that due to mechanical violations the bus had been barred from service. The report stated, “[The owner] continued to use this vehicle for profit (51 times), exhibiting a malignant heart until the untimely death of the victim.”
When interviewed by investigators, the owner of the party bus company claimed that no driver had ever reported the faulty door. He also suggested that perhaps one of the bus occupants had pulled an emergency release lever.
However, bus occupants dispute this characterization of events. The deceased man’s former college roommate stated, “The idea that he can make that statement without any evidence is infuriating because he’s trying to cover his own butt.”
In January, the California Highway Patrol recommended murder charges against the owner of the party bus where the man’s death occurred. While the Los Angeles district attorney’s office did not pursue murder or manslaughter charges, the Los Angeles City attorney’s office filed multiple criminal charges related to the safety violations found on the bus. The charges included three counts of failure to maintain a vehicle in a safe condition, three counts of operating an out-of-service vehicle, one count of the failure to maintain vehicle tires in a safe condition, one count of a failure to maintain a vehicle door in a safe condition, and one count of a failure to keep maintenance and inspection records.
The parents of the deceased individual who also filed a wrongful death suit against the owner and the bus company.