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Bus Driver Not Liable For Injuring Passengers By Braking Hard to Avoid Pedestrian

Reasons for judgement were published today by the BC Supreme Court, Kelowna Registry, dismissing a negligence claim against a bus driver whose hard braking injured several passengers.

In today’s case (Clarkson v Elding) multiple plaintiffs sued for damages following injuries sustained while passengers on a bus.  The Defendant operator “braked suddenly to avoid a collision with a pedestrian who was jaywalking across East Hastings.”  The resulting force of the braking “caused many passengers on the bus, including the plaintiffs, to fall or be slammed against seats and/or other passengers“.

The claims were dismissed with the court finding no negligence in these circumstances.  In reaching this conclusion Madam Justice Horsman provided the following reasons:

[78]         I accept the evidence of Mr. Elding that he took his foot off the accelerator and covered his brake as he approached the intersection of East Hastings and Woodland in anticipation that he may have to stop. I also accept his evidence that he applied his brakes as soon as he saw the pedestrian step out to Mr. Elding’s immediate left from the front of the red van. The plaintiffs did not challenge Mr. Elding’s credibility in this respect. The evidence of both experts supports that Mr. Elding’s reaction time from the moment he saw the pedestrian was exceptionally quick. While Mr. Elding was able to stop in time to avoid hitting the pedestrian, he was only able to do so by the rapid application of the brakes, causing unfortunate but unavoidable injuries to some of the bus passengers.

[79]         I find that Mr. Elding acted in accordance with the standards expected of a reasonably prudent bus driver in the circumstances. He did not breach the relevant standard of care, and therefore the plaintiffs’ negligence claim against the defendants cannot succeed.

Agony of Collision, bc injury law, Bus Passenger Injuries, Clarkson v. Elding, Madam Justice Horsman