Court of Appeal upholds finding that bus driver negligent for "braking too hard"

Personal Injury Blog

In reasons for judgment released this morning, the BC Court of Appeal in Benavides v. Insurance Corporation of British Columbia, 2017 BCCA 15, dismissed an appeal by TransLink that its bus driver had been negligent for “braking too hard” and causing the plaintiff fall and injure himself.  Writing for the court, Madam Justice Fenlon discussed the high standard of care owed by bus drivers to their passengers and said as follows:

[1]             The defendants in a personal injury action appeal a finding that a bus driver’s negligence caused the plaintiff to fall.

[3]             The incident occurred when Mr. Benavides was travelling home from a supermarket on Fraser Street, in Vancouver. One stop before he intended to disembark, Mr. Benavides rang the bell to let the driver know he wanted to get off at the next stop. He then got up from his seat and moved to the rear door, holding on to the vertical metal bar with one hand, while holding shopping bags in the other. The bus braked suddenly and without warning when it was at or just past Mr. Benavides’ intended stop. He fell and sustained soft tissue injuries to his hands, knees, back, neck and right shoulder and contusions to his chest and rib cage. The bus was crowded with passengers. Mr. Benavides, who was 76 years old at the time of trial, left the bus without reporting the incident to the driver. About one month later the event was reported to Translink by someone on behalf of Mr. Benavides.

[4]             At trial a representative of Translink testified that bus drivers are trained to slow down as they pull into regular stops rather than drive at a normal speed and then brake suddenly. He testified further that drivers are trained to do everything possible to avoid sudden stops, except when they are necessary to avoid emergency hazards.

[5]             The trial judge found that Mr. Benavides fell as a result of the driver braking abruptly at the bus stop and that the fall caused Mr. Benavides’ injuries. He awarded damages of approximately $41,000.

[19]         … In my view, there was evidence to support the judge’s inference that the bus driver braked hard in order to avoid overshooting the bus stop. That inference was not…a matter of “mere speculation”.

[20]         In summary…the findings made by the trial judge support his ultimate conclusion on liability…

The text of the full decision can be found here: http://www.courts.gov.bc.ca/jdb-txt/ca/17/00/2017BCCA0015.htm