Passenger in Wheelchair Suffers Serious Injuries Due to Negligent Bus Driver

    Bus Safety Expert WitnessThis case involves a disabled, elderly male plaintiff who suffered extensive injuries after a bus that was chartered by his nursing home in Wisconsin made an abrupt stop. On the date of the incident in question, the man was riding the bus in order to go to church. The man, who was in a wheelchair, was brought onto the bus and strapped into the reserved area for disabled riders. However, the driver failed to properly secure the plaintiff in place before beginning the trip. During the trip, the driver was forced to slam on the brakes when a pedestrian ran into the street, causing the plaintiff’s wheelchair to fly forward. As a result of the accident the plaintiff suffered a massive brain injury.

    Question(s) For Expert Witness

    • 1. Please briefly describe your experience with bus safety?
    • 2. Are you familiar with the best practices driving a bus?
    • 3. Are you familiar with the proper way to attend to a handicap passenger and strap them in?

    Expert Witness Response E-010209

    I have extensive experience in all aspects of bus safety, having been employed in the bus transportation industry for over 30 years, the last 16 as a safety and training professional. Two issues present themselves based on the initial brief of this case. First, under the Americans with Disabilities Act, the driver is required to offer the use of a seatbelt to the disabled passenger when strapping down his wheelchair. If the driver made that offer and the plaintiff declined to have the seatbelt put on, then he has taken the risk inherent to being unbelted onto himself. If the driver didn’t offer the belt, then he was negligent in his duties. Second, a transit bus is typically operated as a common carrier, raising the driver’s responsibility to the heightened or utmost duty of care. If the driver was operating the bus in a cautious manner but failed to use good observation techniques, it’s possible he may have been able to avoid having to brake hard, thus avoiding the injury to the passenger.

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