The Broward County Transit has been operating for years, deploying 300 buses to cover more than 400 square miles with connections to both Miami-Dade and Palm Beach counties, as well as the Tri-Rail.
This is a lot of area to cover daily, and for the most part, drivers do a good job of getting passengers safely to their destination.
However, sometimes accidents occur. In 2013, a 14-year-old boy trying to get to school was left permanently brain damaged when he was trying to board and the bus accelerated before the doors had completely closed and prior to all passengers taking their seats. While prosecutors did not find the action rose to the level of culpable negligence or recklessness (as required for a criminal prosecution), there was evidence to support findings of inattentiveness and carelessness – violations of the Bus Driver Administrative Code.
When injuries occur as a result of bus driver negligence, victims need to consult with an experienced accident lawyer in Fort Lauderdale to ensure their rights are protected.
Recently, the case of Robinson v. Wash. Metro. Area Trans. Auth. showed how simple injury on a bus or even caused by a bus driver may not be enough to secure compensation. (Every case is different, which is why an immediate consultation is recommended.)
In Robinson, before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, a passenger on a metro transit bus was injured when the vehicle suddenly stopped while the rider was still standing. According to court records, rider boarded the bus and proceeded down the aisle, holding the seat-back handrails as she walked.
The driver closed the doors and continued forward before passenger had reached her seat. He soon approached a stop sign and “hit the brakes.” The deceleration of the large vehicle caused the rider, who was still standing, facing the rear of the bus, to fall in a twisting motion on her behind. In falling, she broke her left leg.
Rider later sued the metro transit authority, alleging the bus drivers’ negligent operation of the bus resulted in her injury.
She sought to prove negligence on two theories: Driver violated the authority’s standard operating procedures and secondly, the “jerk” occurred with such extraordinary force, negligence was inferred.
Driver admitted at trial he did not check his mirror prior to leaving the stop, though he assumed plaintiff was already seated.
A jury awarded plaintiff $405,000 in damages. However, trial court soon after granted a renewed motion for judgment as a matter of law in favor of defendant, holding plaintiff failed to adequately prove causation.
Specifically, plaintiff’s expert witness did not show the standard operating procedure cited was a reflection of national care standards, and there was no evidence causally of the driver’s failure to check the center mirror (the SOP violation) and plaintiff’s injury. Court also found plaintiff’s evidence insufficient to show the “jerk” in question was indeed extraordinary.
The appellate court affirmed. The appellate court did note an expert witness might not be needed to show a failure to check one’s mirrors could result in injury to a passenger, as this is within the realm of understanding of the average layperson. However, plaintiff failed to adequately preserve this argument because when trial court denied defendant’s first summary judgment motion, it indicated an expert witness was required to establish the national standard of care – and plaintiff did not object or argue against this point.
Because these cases can be more complex than they may initially appear, it’s important to contact an injury lawyer with experience.
Call Freeman Injury Law — 1-800-561-7777 for a free appointment to discuss your rights.
Robinson v. Wash. Metro. Area Trans. Auth. , Dec. 19, 2014, U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia
More Blog Entries:
Montgomery v. Potter – Uninsured Driver Struck by Insured Motorist, Jan. 7, 2015, Fort Lauderdale Accident Lawyer Blog