When injured as a passenger on a public bus, public carriers and bus drivers have a heavy burden to establish that they used all due, proper and reasonable care and skill to avoid or prevent injury to the passenger. This principle was reaffirmed in the personal injury case of Hutchinson v. Dyck, 2015 BCSC 1039.
The claimant was a passenger on a bus operated by South Coast British Columbia Transportation Authority dba Translink, and Coast Mountain Bus Company Ltd when the bus went over a depression or dip in the road. The plaintiff was ejected upwards from his seat and hit the seat on the way down. In finding the owner and bus driver at fault for the injury the judge commented at paragraph 26:
In all the circumstances, I find the defendant was travelling faster than he thought on a stretch of road he knew contained a dip. He was going too fast to fully appreciate how significant a dip it was and too fast to take evasive action and brake to minimize the impact once he saw the dip. On balance I am not satisfied the defendants have shown the driver conducted himself in a reasonable and careful manner consistent with the high duty of care imposed on those engaged in public transit and I find the defendants negligent.
The court endorsed the following analytical approach:
once a passenger on a public carrier has been injured in an accident a prima facie case of negligence is raised and it is for the public carrier to establish that the passenger’s injuries were occasioned without negligence on the part of the defendant or that it resulted from a cause for which the carrier was not responsible
The passenger was awarded $90,000 for his pain and suffering after sustaining a spinal fracture that healed leaving him with a deformity in his spine. The money awarded recognizes that he was 58 years old at trial and until the bus accident he was a fit and active. Also, although the injury was painful and initially debilitating the claimant’s pain levels decreased over the years. He however always has some degree of pain and he may require surgery in the future.
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Posted by Personal Injury Lawyer Mr. Renn A. Holness, B.A. LL.B.