Seattle attorneys Charles Herrmann and John Scholbe announced that several family members of victims of the horrific Ride the Ducks bus crash have contacted their firm for legal advice. “The first thing I tell them is not to talk with representatives of the tour bus or the Ducks companies, their associated travel agencies, and especially their insurance companies. Regardless of how nice or helpful they may seem, the harsh truth is that part of their job is to minimize claims of the victims. Naturally, everyone ought to talk freely with their doctors, the investigating governmental authorities, their families as well as lawyers they may retain, but then no one else,” Herrmann warned.
“Every survivor should have their injuries photographed immediately and throughout the course of their healing in recovery. Graphic pictures revealing the appearance of their wounds and their suffering will prove extremely valuable later when their claims are presented. We can secure copies of medical and financial records later, but missed photos are gone forever. Take many detailed photos now,” attorney Scholbe strongly advised.
Attorney Scholbe continued: “With the number of people killed and injured another concern will be whether these companies were carrying enough insurance to adequately compensate all of the victims. Given the number of deaths and horrific injuries in this accident, the $5 million insurance required by law may prove woefully inadequate to fully compensate all victims. Some victims may have their own underinsured motorist coverage that may provideadditional compensation shouldthese companies’ insurance prove inadequate.There may be others who share in the fault.”
Herrmann cautioned, “While it is too early to reach firm conclusions, we know the Duck Boat crossed over the center line to crash into a Bellair tour bus traveling in the opposite direction.The Duck 6 driver evidently attempted to change lanes into the left/inside lane closest to the oncoming south bound lanes. It was at this point that he lost control of Duck 6. His vehicle began to slide sideways and crossed over into the southbound lanes where it struck the driver’s side of the Bellair tour bus.
The roles of the drivers of the Duck boat, the tour bus company, and the other two cars involved must be examined. If there were any mechanical failures, their maintenance and management must also be reviewed.
Eyewitnesses report that the left front wheel of the Duck Boat malfunctioned. An eyewitness following Duck 6 gave the following description of what he observed:
“The duck boat was signaling to enter the left lane. As it was making its turn to enter the left lane, it seemed to lurch suddenly. I saw a bunch of smoke and what appeared to be the front, left wheel pop off. It clipped a smaller SUV and basically almost t-boned into the oncoming bus and spun around.”
Other witnesses said the left front wheel broke off from Duck 6 and that red fluid appeared to coming out of that wheel well. The NTSB spokesperson confirmed that the left front axle had been sheared off, although they could not yet determine whether it was broken prior to, or during, the accident.
The Duck Boat is a WWII amphibious landing craft (DUKW) originally designed to deliver troops and supplies from large ships onto beaches as part of military invasions. Duck 6 was 70 years old, manufactured in 1945. It was not originally intended to be driven on crowded urban streets.According to information we have developed, Ride the Duck performs its own maintenance on its fleet of 20 such Duck vehicles and would most likely be held responsible for any mechanical failure on a 70 year old converted landing craft like Duck 6.
Critics have also complained that the Duck drivers are assigned too many tasks. They are not only drivers, but they are also function as tour guides entertaining the passengers with describing points of interest and regaling them with anecdotes, folklore and humor.
The roadway itself may prove critical. Was it designed properly? Were the lanes too narrow? Should there have been median barriers? The State of Washington is responsible for the roadway. Many times an accident is the result of a combination of errors or failures on the part of multiple parties. It is often not the result of just one cause.
In this regard we note that the Aurora Bridge was built 83 years ago (1932) when traffic in Seattle was far lighter.
It bears 6 lanes of travel – 3 in each direction at a speed limit of 40mph. These lanes are the narrowest of any 6-lane bridge in the state. While the standard lane width is 12 feet, on the Aurora Bridge, the center northbound lane is 9 feet, 3 inches wide. The other lanes on the bridge are 9 feet, 6 inches wide to 9 feet, 8 inches. There is no median barrier to prevent vehicles from accidently crossing over into opposing traffic.
Washington Department of Transportation (WDOT) years ago recognized that this stretch of highway has one of the highest rates of accidents in the state. In 2003, WDOT proposed that the sidewalks be placed under the bridge roadway to widen the lanes and to install a median barrier to prevent this kind of accident.
Duck 6, the one involved in this accident was refurbished in 2005 with a new GM engine and chassis by Ride the Ducks International the parent company. Further, the NTSB had learned that Ride the Ducks International issued a warning in 2013 about potential axel failure that needed to be repaired or monitored closely. It is unclear if the local franchise Ride the Ducks Seattle received this warning from Ride the Ducks International. This Duck is over 8 feet wide, nearly the width of the lanes.
All these questions present lines of inquiry to be pursued in the ongoing investigation. While some of the pertinent facts are already known, a thorough investigation will most likely take several months to a year to complete. However, nearly all of the evidence is being preserved. Videos and/or photos of the actual crash will eventually be available. All causes will be determined once the investigation is completed.
The law firm successfully represented numerous victims of the Mi Joo bus crash where the tour bus driver lost control causing the bus to plummet off a cliff near Pendleton, Oregon in 2012.
Attorney Herrmann gained an international reputation successfully representing 89 Korean Victims in the shoot down of Korean Airlines Flight KAL 007 in 1983. In that case he recovered $10 million U.S. Dollars for one family alone. He and his team of lawyers went on to recover in excess of $150 million for 118 Korean victims of Korean Airlines accident in Guam in 1997 and more recently Air China’s crash near Gim Hae in the Spring of 2002 as Korea was co-hosting the World Cup. In that same year, Herrmann took on representation of 62 Taiwanese victims of China Airlines flight CI 611 that exploded over the Strait of Taiwan while in route to Hong Kong. The firm is currently representing victims of the crash of Asiana flight 214 at San Francisco in the summer of 2013.
“The suffering of these victims in this bus crash is terribly similar to those in the Mi Joo bus crash. Not only have they sustained serious physical injuries, the psychological trauma can also be devastating. My heart goes out to all of these victims and their families. It has been a horrific tragedy.”
The attorney concluded: “Finally, one of the problems these victims will face in presenting legal claims for compensation lies in Chinese and American cultural differences. There exist many differences such as roles in family like the head of family, the oldest son, taking care of the elderly, even business customs, how salaries and fringe benefits are paid; the list is long. All these Chinese cultural aspects must be effectively communicated to American judges and juries. So, victims need to retain not only highly competent American lawyers, the attorneys must also be thoroughly familiar with Chinese culture.” (end)
Anyone seeking more information can visit http://hslawfirm.comwhere we will be posting information and more detailed advice; or contact Holly Li on her cell phone: (206) 369-4611 or her email: firstname.lastname@example.org.