The one year anniversary of the deadliest bus crash in nearly fifty years in Oregon is a painful reminder of the risk of serious injury and death that can befall bus passengers. The crash occurred on December 23, 2012 on Interstate-84 east of Pendleton, Oregon in the Blue Mountains when a tour bus operated by Mi Joo Tour & Travel of Vancouver, B.C. slid off the road in icy conditions.
The charter bus careened through a guard rail and plunged down a steep embankment nearly 200 feet into a ravine resulting in the death of 9 passengers and injuring 38. Many of the survivors sustained serious and catastrophic injuries such as horrific lacerations, broken bones, and amputations.
Claims of Negligence
Several lawsuits have been filed resulting the crash, including a wrongful death suit. The lawsuit filed on behalf of twelve victims just before the one year statute of limitations against government entities in Oregon alleges that the operator of the bus, Mi Joo Tour & Travel, and the driver, Haeng-Kyu Hwang, were negligent for a number of reasons including: the driver had been driving for excessive periods of time, speed was too fast for the conditions, warning signs were ignored, and failure to take a safer route.
The lawsuit was filed in the Umatilla County Court. The state of Oregon and the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) were also named in the suit for failing to erect sufficiently strong barriers along the roadway, failing to warn drivers of the unsafe conditions, failing to require commercial vehicles to take an alternate route, and failure to sand and plow the Interstate among other claims.
Tour Company Now Banned from Operating in the U.S. and Canada
The U.S. Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration found that the driver, Haeng-Kyu Hwang, had worked more than the maximum of 70 hours in eight days, and has barred Mi Joo Tour & Travel Ltd. from operating in the U.S. Public records show that the company had a history of safety violations. The company has also been barred from operating in Canada and has ceased operations.
Damages Sought by the Plaintiffs
Many of the crash victims have sustained permanent, debilitating injuries. Some require ongoing medical care, are unable to work, and assistance with daily living. Their lives are forever changed by the traumatic accident.
Victims of the horrific tour bus crash may be entitled to compensation for medical expenses, lost wages, and for pain and suffering and other general damages. Future medical needs, future lost wages, and other economic damages would also be sought. Recovery for Wrongful Death claims would provide some financial relief for grieving families.