$15M Products Liability Lawsuit Blames GPS Maker Garmin for 2013 Massachusetts Bus Crash

11 people are suing GPS device maker for $15 million over injuries they sustained in a 2013 Massachusetts bus collision. The plaintiffs are claiming products liability for what they contend was a defective/unsafe navigation device.

The bus, transporting more than two dozen high school students and their chaperones, was going back from Boston to Philadelphia, when the charter vehicle hit a bridge, causing its roof to collapse. 35 people were hospitalized. Student Matthew Cruz, who sustained a spinal cord injury in the bus crash, is the complaint’s lead plaintiff.

In their Boston product defect case, the plaintiffs argued that if the GPS device had been designed for commercial vehicles, the driver would have been directed to go around the bridge. They say that the packaging of the navigation device should have indicated that it was not appropriate for charter bus use.

Also named as a defendant is bus driver Samuel J. Jackson, who is accused of distracted driving and failing to notice the signs warning that the bridge was an imminently low one. Even after hitting the bridge, he reportedly kept driving for another 500 feet.

GPS navigation devices have been blamed for bridge collisions. In 2009, U.S. Senator Charles Schumer said that the country should create standards for the GPS devices used in buses and trucks to prevent low collisions that occur when a vehicle is directed to go onto a restricted road.

In a letter to then Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, the New York senator noted that over two years, truckers struck bridges in that state over 200 times because of faulty directions given to them by vehicle navigation systems. Some 80% of the bridge strikes occurred in areas that were closed to commercial traffic but a GPS had directed the truckers otherwise.

US Department of Transportation data reports that in 2010, there were 15,000 bridge strike accidents involving all kinds of motor vehicles. 3,000 injuries and 214 fatalities resulted.

Last year, a teenager died after he hit a bridge while standing on top of a double-decker tour bus in California. Mason Zisette, 16, was reportedly facing the back of the bus and failed to see the bridge. His head struck the structure, causing him to fall to the ground. He was taken off life support the next day and died.

Bus crashes can lead to serious injuries and there may be more than one party that should be held liable. You want to work with a Boston bus accident law firm that knows how to determine and prove who and what caused the collision. At Altman & Altman, LLP, our Massachusetts bus collision attorneys represent victims injured in school bus crashes, MBTA bus accidents, private buses, charter buses, and passenger vans.

$15M suit blames GPS for Boston bus accident that injured students, chaperones, Bucks County Courier Times, January 29, 2015

Truckers Guided by GPS Said to Hit N.Y. Bridges 200 Times
, Bloomberg.com, September 25, 2014

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