BC Injury Law and ICBC Claims Blog

Bus Driver Liable For Accelerating Prior To Elderly Passenger Being Seated

Adding to this site’s archives addressing bus driver liability for injuries to passengers, reasons for judgement were released this week by the BC Supreme Court, Vancouver Registry, dealing with such an incident.

In this week’s case (Wong v. South Coast British Columbia Transportation Authority) the 81 year old plaintiff boarded a bus and was on her way to her seat when “the driver pulled into traffic in an abrupt motion“.    The Plaintiff fell and the driver then “abruptly braked“.  The Plaintiff’s hip was fractured in the incident.

Madam Justice Power found the bus driver was negligent in failing to wait until the elderly plaintiff was seated before accelerating.  In finding the driver partly liable for the incident the Court provided the following reasons:

[25]         In cross-examination, Mr. Pinnell conceded that “it was surprising” that Ms. Wong fell one foot from the fare box and that in the time prior to the fall, he never saw anyone coming down the aisle.  He acknowledged that if he had seen Ms. Wong, he would have told her to sit down.  He agreed that there is a policy and procedures manual for bus drivers and that there is a policy to allow elderly people a chance to sit before moving from a stopped location.  He acknowledged that at examination for discovery he did not think such a policy was in place…

[40]         In all of the circumstances of the case at bar, I am of the view that Mr. Pinnell breached the standard of care of a reasonably prudent bus driver by entering traffic without warning Ms. Wong that he was about to enter traffic and without doing an adequate visual check to ensure that Ms. Wong had returned to her seat or was securely standing.  In so doing he was also in breach of the Operators Policy and Procedures Manual, para 6.11.

The Plaintiff’s fractured hip required surgical intervention.  Despite having an ‘uneventful’ recovery she was left with permanent restrictions in mobility.   The Court went on -to assess non-pecuniary damages at $90,000 before slightly reducing these for contributory negligence.

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