Following up a story I originally wrote about last month, there are new developments in the death of an 11-year-old Portland girl in a September accident involving a party bus.
According to The Oregonian the girl died when her skull was crushed as she “tumbled out of an emergency window on the bus when it careened around a corner… at Southwest First Avenue and Harrison Street.” She is reported to have been sitting atop a horseshoe-shaped couch in the back of the bus at the time of the fatal Portland bus accident. “The bus was full of kids on their way to a birthday party but no adults were in the back,” the newspaper reports.
As troubling as this lack of adult supervision is the revelation that the bus itself lacked the proper safety inspection permit and was being operated by a man who was not licensed to drive this type of vehicle, according to The Oregonian. This image of a company putting immediate profits ahead of safety is chilling not only for any parent considering whether to let a child attend a party involving this sort of bus but, frankly, for any adult who might be thinking of hiring a party bus for a special celebration. The fact that a window that was supposed to function as an emergency exit flew open so easily is a reminder of how essential the required government safety inspections are.
Beyond the bus company and the driver themselves, however, in assessing responsibility for this tragedy and the Portland child death it led to, questions also need to be directed to the manufacturer of the bus itself. Was the bus defective? Might the problem with the window that flew open be one of design rather than maintenance? For such careful – and, at times complex – judgments we look to our courts.
Seeing cases like these is one of the most difficult aspects of an Oregon child injury and personal injury attorney’s job, but it is also a reminder that the health and safety regulations companies sometimes flout exist for everyone’s benefit. In an ideal world, we would not require courts and lawyers to enforce them. Since our current world is far from ideal it is reassuring to know that the legal system is here to help those who have suffered obtain the justice they deserve.