Expert Serious Injury Lawyers Urge Investigation After Death In Belgian Coach Crash

Drivers, Teachers And Essex Schoolchildren Required Hospital Treatment


Andrew Robinson, Press Officer | 0113 218 6463

Experts representing 25 victims of the fatal coach crash involving Alvechurch School children in France say the latest coach tragedy in Belgium, in which one adult died and several others were injured, once again raises serious safety concerns.

Specialist international personal injury lawyers at Irwin Mitchell have called for an urgent investigation in safety standards after a coach carrying children from Brentwood School in Essex crashed and overturned on the A18/E40 motorway near Middelkerke, West Flanders.

One of the drivers on the coach, who was not driving at the time, was killed in the crash and a number of teachers and pupils suffered injuries, with one pupil being placed in intensive care due to a head injury.

Irwin Mitchell has represented hundreds of victims of coach crashes around the world, including victims injured in Belgium. The law firm currently represent 25 British school children and adults seriously injured in a fatal coach crash in Chalons En Champagne in February 2012 on their return journey to Alvechurch Middle School in the West Midlands following a skiing trip.

The law firm, which recently secured an admission of liability from the tour operator Interski for the 2012 crash, has expressed concerns relating to the latest coach crash in Belgium and called for a thorough investigation to take place to confirm the cause of the accident.

Clive Garner, Head of International Personal Injury and Group Actions at Irwin Mitchell, said: 

Expert Opinion
“It is a matter of great concern to hear of yet another coach crash causing death and serious injuries. Our thoughts are with the victims and their families at this most difficult time.

"Obviously it is far too early to determine the cause of this tragic incident. The Belgian police have commenced their investigations and, no doubt, they will carry out detailed analysis of all of the factors that may have contributed to this tragedy.

"In such a serious case as this, specialist police investigators should carefully consider all the circumstances including whether there were any problems or faults with the coach which may have effected its safety. They should also investigate the actions of the driver, the speed that the coach was travelling at and whether any factors such as driver fatigue played a part.

"It is impossible to ignore the parallels with the Alvechurch School coach crash. We have repeatedly called for stricter regulations to improve coach safety and reduce the risks posed to both passengers and crew. We call upon both the Department of Transport and the European Commission to review issues of coach safety and consider the introduction of tougher regulations, particularly for long haul and international coach travel."
Clive Garner, Partner

The specialist international serious injury lawyers were joined in their call for a thorough review of coach standards by a number of their clients. Ski instructor Steve Ratherham, who was seriously injured in the coach crash involving Alvechurch Middle School pupils in France said it was shocking to see these incidents continue to occur.

Mr Ratherham, from Yardley Wood in Birmingham, suffered severe injuries to his back, ribs and chest after travelling on the Alvechurch-bound coach, said: “When I hear about incidents like this, which are so similar to the crash I was involved with, it brings back painful memories and I can’t believe accidents like this continue to happen.

“I can only hope those involved are able to access the help and support they will need. I speak from personal experience when I say that I hope the investigation will be conducted quickly and that those involved will get the answers they need about what happened to cause the crash.”

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