Lawyers Urge French Authorities To Act Quickly For Coach Passengers
International Travel Law Experts Say Families Need Answers As To Why Fatal Crash Happened. BY CLIVE GARNER
Specialist International travel lawyers have said the French
authorities must act quickly and diligently with their
investigations to provide answers to passengers and their families
after a coach crash left a school teacher dead and more than 20
injured, including a 13-year-old girl fighting for her life.
The call from travel law experts at Irwin Mitchell comes as further details emerge about the accident which happened when the coach, carrying a school party back to Worcestershire after a half-term skiing holiday, hit the central reservation and over- turned in a ditch.
Peter Rippington, 59, a teacher at Alvechurch School, died and more than 20 people were hurt in the crash near Chalons-en-Champagne early on Sunday. At least 10 are still in hospital including a 13-year-old girl still fighting for her life.
Now, a leading travel law expert who has represented dozens of victims and families of those killed in numerous coach accidents around the world says quick and thorough investigations are essential to help all those involved come to terms with the tragedy.
Clive Garner, Partner and head of the Travel Law Team, said: “This will be a very testing time for those involved in the crash and their families and they will want to know what happened as soon as possible.
“What should have been a safe trip home after an enjoyable holiday has ended in tragedy, changing the lives of the victims and the family of the teacher killed forever.
“Early reports indicate that no other vehicles were involved. The possibility of mechanical failure will need to be carefully investigated as will the possibility of driver error.
"We have dealt with many serious and often fatal coach crashes around the world involving British tourists. In most of these previous cases, driver error has played a major part in causing the accident and this can be hard for those involved to comprehend.
"Over more than a decade, we have been calling for improved driver training, monitoring and supervision to reduce the risk of coach crashes and fatal accidents occurring, which cause devastation to all those involved.
"From experience of past cases in France, I am confident that the French authorities will undertake thorough and comprehensive investigations to determine what went wrong. As part of their investigations they will interview drivers of the vehicles, people who were on board and other witnesses.
“They will analyse the scene of the accidents and gather evidence including the speed of the vehicles and the condition of the roads together with analysing data from any Tachograph that was fitted.
“The driver's work patterns, including the numbers of hours driven and the timing and frequency of breaks will also be assessed to determine whether they were driving within safe limits.
“An investigating Magistrate has been appointed and a decision will be made as to whether any criminal charges should be brought against the driver of either vehicle or any other parties. In due course, an inquest into the death of the British passenger will be opened and then adjourned pending the outcome of any criminal proceedings in France.
"Our thoughts go out to the victims of this tragic incident and the family of the teacher who sadly lost his life. Nothing can turn back the clock but we hope that lessons can be learned from this terrible incident to prevent a repeat of this kind of accident in the future and that all those affected receive the justice that they deserve."
About the Author
Clive Garner, is head of international travel litigation at Irwin Mitchell.