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Tag: Heyman v. South Cost British Columbia Transportation Authority

Bus Driver Liable for Collision After Failing to Stop for Running Passanger

Reasons for judgement were released last week by the BC Supreme Court, Vancouver Registry, addressing fault for a collision between a bus and a pedestrian attempting to catch it before it departed.
In last week’s case (Heyman v. South Cost British Columbia Transportation Authority) the Plaintiff was attempting to catch a bus which was stopped at a bus stop.   He ran towards it, approaching from its front, waving his hand in the air trying to get the motorists attention.  The bus driver closed the doors and put the vehicle into motion just as the Plaintiff approached colliding with his waving hand.   The impact caused him to spin around and fall to the ground. His ankle was run over by the rear of the bus and he also suffered a broken shoulder.
The bus driver argued there was a strict policy “that if a pedestrian is even one foot away from the bus stop when the doors close, the bus leaves“.  Mr. Justice Skolrood rejected this finding there was no such written policy noting that the written policy stated that “to arrive safely is more important than to arrive on time. The obvious safety of passengers, employees, travelers and pedestrians on the streets and highways must be given precedence over every other consideration.”
Mr. Justice Skolrood went on to note that in any event the bus driver was careless in departing when he did given the proximity of the pedestrian.  In finding both parties negligent in the incident the Court provided the following reasons:
[66]         The analysis then turns to whether Mr. Cooper failed to meet the standard of care of what would be expected of a reasonably prudent bus driver in the circumstances. This questions turns on whether it was reasonable for Mr. Cooper, in compliance with what he understood company policy to be, to simply close the doors of the bus and accelerate away from the bus stop notwithstanding Mr. Heyman’s approach.
[67]         In my view, reliance on this alleged policy is no answer to the claim that Mr. Cooper breached the standard of care. I say alleged policy because it is not set out anywhere in writing, notwithstanding that West Vancouver Transit has in place an extensive policy manual setting out detailed operational practices and policies. That said, I have no reason to question Mr. Cooper’s evidence that drivers are instructed to leave once there is no one else waiting at a bus stop.
[68]         However, Mr. Cooper’s conduct is not to be measured against a general policy, but rather must be considered in light of the circumstances that presented at the time. As noted by Madam Justice Rowles in Wang, the question is whether there was a real risk of harm that could reasonably be avoided.
[69]         In my view, Mr. Heyman approaching the bus in an awkward run waving his arms in the air with a view to getting the driver’s attention and hopefully having the bus stop so he could board, presented a real risk of harm. I note in particular the fact, as pointed out by counsel for the defendants, that the road on which the bus was situated was quite narrow, in fact not much wider than the bus itself. That put the bus in close proximity to pedestrians on the adjacent sidewalk and heightened the need for vigilance on Mr. Cooper’s part. Again, that is particularly so given the manner in which Mr. Heyman was approaching…
[84]         In the circumstances, I find that Mr. Heyman was 60% responsible for the accident and Mr. Cooper 40%.