Sudden changes in speed are expected on buses and don’t always amount to negligence, according to a provincial court judge who threw out a lawsuit against Penticton Transit.
Ashleigh Brianne Norman was seeking a $25,000 award in small claims court for injuries suffered when she fell on a bus in September 2010. Judge Robin Smith dismissed the case in a March 2013 written ruling.
The woman, who was 26 at the time, alleged in a statement of claim that she was hurt when the bus she had just boarded near Okanagan College quickly pulled away from the stop, causing her to fall.
Norman’s lawyer, Michael Welsh, previously told the Western News she fell on her back onto the stairs that led to the upper level of seats at the back of the bus, and suffered headaches, back pain and stiffness as a result, although she had since recovered.
It was alleged the bus driver, 15-year-veteran Dan Foster, was negligent in failing to ensure Norman was seated before pulling away, in accelerating too quickly and causing the bus to jerk away from the stop, and in failing to ensure the safety of this passengers.
The judge found, however, that Norman passed by available seats on her way to the back of the bus, in which there were five decals posted to warn riders to hold on for safety.
Further, he noted that company policy only requires a driver to wait at a stop until a passenger with no obvious mobility impairment has had an opportunity to sit in the first available seat. If a passenger does have an apparent mobility impairment, the driver is required to wait until the rider is seated.
In Norman’s case, “There was no reason to suspect the claimant had any mobility issues,” and “she chose not to sit in the empty seats in the front half of the bus,” Smith wrote in his reasons for judgement.
“Jolts on a bus from acceleration, deceleration and braking are common,” he continued. “For the defendant to be negligent there needs to be more than just the fact the bus started forward movement before the claimant was seated in the back.”
Smith dismissed Norman’s claim without costs.