Bus Driver Liable Following Injury to "Elderly, Frail and Hunched" Passenger

Adding to this site’s archived cases addressing bus driver liability for injuries to passengers, reasons for judgement were released this week by the BC Supreme Court, Vancouver Registry, finding a bus driver partly liable after putting the bus in motion when an elderly passenger was attempting to exit.
In this week’s case (Bideci v.Neuhold) the 93 year old plaintiff boarded a bus.  When the bus came to his stop he “spent several seconds in the process of attempting to rise from his seat“.  The bus driver failed to see this, closed the door and put the bus in motion prior to the plaintiff exiting.  This caused the Plaintiff to fall resulting in injury.
In finding the bus driver liable Mr. Justice Abrioux provided the following reasons:
[72]         The standard of care to which Mr. Neuhold was subject included taking a careful enough look into the rear-view mirror as was appropriate under the circumstances in existence at the time. As he candidly admitted in his evidence, he was under no specific time constraints: “If you’re late, you’re late”. Safety of his passengers was his primary consideration.
[73]         Mr. Neuhold’s evidence was that photograph 8 of Exhibit 7 was the most accurate approximation of what he would have seen as he looked in his rear-view mirror, with a caveat being that he would not have been able to see the wheel well on the passenger side of the bus.
[74]          Mr. Bideci’s seat is clearly visible in this photograph and there were no obstructions such as someone standing or moving which would have obscured Mr. Neuhold’s view of this area.
[75]         I appreciate that Mr. Neuhold is not subject to a standard of perfection nor is he the plaintiff’s insurer. But when I apply the legal principles to which I have referred above to my findings of fact, I conclude that the defendants have not satisfied the burden on them to establish that Mr. Neuhold used all due, proper and reasonable care and skill to avoid or prevent injury to the plaintiff.
[76]         Based on my review of the video, I am of the view that Mr. Neuhold did not look carefully enough in his rear-view mirror before deciding to perform his final outside mirror check, which preceded his putting the bus in motion. Had he in fact taken a “long hard look” or a “pretty significant look” in his rear-view mirror as Ms. Trott stated that he did, he would have seen his elderly, frail and “hunched” passenger in the process of slowly rising from his seat.
[77]         Accordingly, I conclude the defendants have not satisfied the burden on them to answer the prima facie case of negligence and I find them liable for the Accident.
 

bc injury law, Bideci v. Neuhold, bus accidents, Mr. Justice Abrioux

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ERIK
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When not writing the BC Injury Law Blog, Erik is the managing partner at MacIsaac & Company, based in Victoria, B.C. He is also involved with combative sports regulatory issues and authors the Combat Sports Law Blog.

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