“Waco crash verdict stuns bus industry”

by Walter Olson on February 15, 2006

The verdict that Ted reported on Dec. 1 is stirring unease through the bus industry. Lawyers convinced a Texas jury that a tour bus was defectively designed because it did not come equipped with seat belts and laminated side window glass, even though neither are common in American tour bus design or mandated by the federal National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. (Steve McGonigle, Dallas Morning News, Feb. 12). For more on the laminated glass issue, see May 16, 2005 and links from there.

{ 1 comment }

1 Mike 02.15.06 at 10:38 am

There’s a little-known asymmetry to this: laws that limit the extent to which juries can consider non-use of seat belts as a factor in assessing damages in auto-accident suits.
In my home state (OR), this was passed at the behest of the trial bar, presumably to maximize damage recoveries (and fees). This would be contrary to the “trust juries” theme that tort-reform opponents have sounded here. Trial lawyers who believed in trusting juries would oppose such an infringement, wouldn’t they?
I wonder if other states have similar limits on consideration of seat-belt evidence.

Reference:
  ORS  31.760 Evidence of nonuse of safety belt or harness to mitigate damages. (1) In an action brought to recover damages for personal injuries arising out of a motor vehicle accident, evidence of the nonuse of a safety belt or harness may be admitted only to mitigate the injured party’s damages. The mitigation shall not exceed five percent of the amount to which the injured party would otherwise be entitled.

      (2) Subsection (1) of this section shall not apply to:

      (a) Actions brought under ORS 30.900 to 30.920; or

      (b) Actions to recover damages for personal injuries arising out of a motor vehicle accident when nonuse of a safety belt or harness is a substantial contributing cause of the accident itself.

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