July 29, 2009

One Death, Multiple Personal Injuries in I-20 Rollover Accident near Alabama State Line

Whether it’s here in Alabama or elsewhere, it’s a terrible shame when good people are killed or injured in seemingly haphazard accidents. Being a personal injury attorney, I read with sadness a news report about a Baptist church bus carrying several dozen adults and children that rolled over on I-20 near the Alabama Welcome Center north of Birmingham, AL. One 14-year-old boy died from serious injuries received when he was thrown from the bus during the tragic crash, while 23 other passengers escaped near death with lesser injuries such as broken bones, cuts and bruises.

According to reports, on July 12 the church bus was traveling eastbound on Interstate 20/59 near the Alabama Welcome Center at the Alabama/Mississippi state line, about 80 miles southwest of Tuscaloosa. Suddenly, a tire blew out causing the driver to lose control of the vehicle. The bus apparently veered quickly to one side, which caused the large vehicle to flip over and roll three times at highway speeds.

As a Birmingham personal injury lawyer, I can say without a doubt that a high-speed rollover accident is one of the more violent vehicle crashes. For a bus crash, where the passengers are typically not wearing seatbelts, injuries sustained by the occupants can be extremely severe to the point of being fatal. Not only broken bones, but head, neck and back injuries are very common, which includes brain and spinal column trauma.

The church’s youth minister, Jason Matlack, fractured his C7 vertebra and had artery injuries that caused serious internal blood loss. According to reports, it took doctors a while to figure out why the man was losing so much blood. He is doing better now, but his injuries were severe and could have resulted in death had doctors not been able to stabilize him early on.

Several teenage passengers also received serious injuries. One girl, who was released from the hospital a few days after the wreck, had fractures of the neck and upper back. Another youngster had surgeries to repair fractures to her femur, clavicle and face. Still another remained in critical condition a week following the accident due to severe head injuries.

In all, 17 youths and six adults were injured and one teenager was killed in the accident -- all because of one blown tire. Whether the final police accident report shows the tire was too old, poorly maintained or simply defective from the factory, the pain and suffering that these folks and their families have gone through is almost immeasurable.

If you or a loved one has been hurt as a result of a vehicle accident caused by defective equipment or another person’s negligence, my advice is for you to consult an experienced personal injury lawyer to learn about your various options to recover medical costs and other damages for pain and suffering. Life is too precious.


Youth minister hurt in bus wreck released from hospital, ABPNews.com, July 20, 2009