Do your research
I was relieved to hear the news. Yesterday the city shut down at least 17 bus companies that failed to enforce safety.
The companies mentioned were purportedly under investigation by the Chicago Police and the Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protections for failing to properly maintain several safety measures, including licensures, security cameras, and vehicle signs. A city ordinance passed in April also requires party buses to hire security guards if there are more than 15 passengers on board and alcohol is present—a point of fact that has been largely ignored, leading to several instances of excessive violence.
While the problem is now making headlines, it’s hardly new. Party buses are notorious for shirking city laws to save a dime at the expense of riders who don’t know better. We preach all the time about doing more for the sake of safety, yet the pattern has proven to be dangerous and disappointing for those of us who see the effects of auto crashes.
What’s encouraging is that the city seems to be taking proactive steps to enforce those laws, going as far as to significantly penalize the perpetrators for essentially putting others at risk. It’s especially encouraging when you consider that buses are much more precarious than people like to believe.
What many people don’t know is that party buses are akin to commercial vehicle crashes, if not worse. The injuries are often severe because of two things: a lack of adequate harnessing and the presence of alcohol. Injuries sustained in those types of crashes are devastating. But they’re also preventable and consumers should know exactly what they’re signing up for and how to ensure their safety when booking a private bus.
Make sure the company is properly licensed
After the shutdown, business affairs Commissioner Rosa Escareno noted that there are roughly 340 licensed charter bus companies in the city. She believes that many are violating city laws somehow, but the greatest risk for consumers is hiring a bus company that isn’t properly licensed, meaning you could lose your deposit or the money you’ve already paid to the company.
What to do if you’re a victim of a party bus crash
First and foremost, remain calm and wait for medical personnel to arrive. Once stable, consult with other members of your party and figure out whether a police report was filed. You’ll also want to gather insurance information for the bus driver and the other drivers involved in the crash. As we noted above, party buses are required to comply with city ordinances designed to keep people safe. Depending on the circumstances of the crash and whether the bus was in violation of one or more of those ordinances, you may have the legal basis to file a lawsuit based on negligence.
Have further questions? Reach out to our office, our attorneys are happy to assist.