Two years ago in Pennsylvania, a bus transporting high school children collided with a low bridge. It smashed into the overpass injuring eleven of the children on board. One child suffered paralysing injuries and lost the use of his legs as a result of the accident. This month, lawyers representing the bus crash victims have filed a lawsuit against two GPS companies. They are making the claim that the bus driver, Samuel J. Jackson, hit the bridge because he was following GPS directions.
The two GPS companies in question, Tom Tom and Garmin, are among the biggest companies in GPS equipment. Together, they are being sued for damages amounting to $15 million. Lawyers representing the eleven crash victims are citing severe personal injury and lifestyle alterations. The blame is placed on the GPS systems due to their lack of consideration for commercial vehicles.
On the day of the crash, in 2013, the driver, Jackson, was escorting the children to Harvard University. They were visiting the college as part of the Destined For A Dream Foundation Inc. It’s an organisation that helps underprivileged children realise their dreams of top level education. On the route back to Pennsylvania, the bus collided with the overpass bridge. They had only left the college minutes before. Jackson had reportedly been looking down at the GPS when the incident occurred.
Car crash lawsuits are certainly not uncommon. When involved in road collisions, drivers often consult a truck accident lawyer. More often than not, they seek compensation. However, this is one of the first times, according to the information furnished on my blog, that a lawsuit has been brought against a GPS company. The satellite navigation systems are intended to provide simple and concise navigation advice. However, the problem in this case was that the GPS didn’t take into account the commercial nature of the bus.
Garmin and Tom Tom both make commercial models, designed for lorries, buses and HGVs. In this instance, they were not employed. Instead, Jackson was using a standard device, with both a Garmin model and a Tom Tom model in use. Often technology can help make risky jobs safer, but not in this case. The device failed to warn the driver of the low bridge on the chosen route. As a result, Jackson failed to spot the signs warning of a height restriction. The particular road that the GPS advised had a height restriction of only 10 feet. The bus was much taller and collided into the top of the bridge while Jackson followed directions.
The damage was caused as the roof was ripped backwards. It displaced luggage racks and overhead TV monitors. These items fell onto the children and their chaperones below. Eleven were injured as the heavy items hit the heads and necks of the children. One victim suffered severe spinal injuries and is now paralysed from the waist down. He is in rehabilitation and has slowly regained some use in his hands and upper body. However, he will be disabled for life. The victims are placing blame entirely on the GPS companies. The case will go to court later this year and we will report the outcome.