Good advice.

Good advice.

Injured On A Bus? The Burden Of Proof Is Not On You

DBM Law Blog

Injured while travelling on a transit bus or other form of public carrier?  You are not required to prove the public carrier was negligent rather the public carrier must prove it was not negligent
In Benavides v. Doe, 2015 BCSC 1831, Mr. Benavides was a 76 year old man that was travelling on a Translink bus on his way home after picking up a few groceries.  One stop before his, Mr. Benavides stood up and rang the bell to let the bus driver know that he wanted to get off at the next stop.  He moved to the rear door and held on to the vertical metal bar with one hand while holding his shopping bags in the other.  The bus was travelling at a normal speed when without any warning, the bus braked suddenly causing Mr. Benavides’ head to strike the metal bar he was holding damaging his glasses and the metal bridge in his mouth, then falling to floor injuring his knees.
If you are injured in a car accident, then you must prove that the other driver was negligent and that negligence is what caused your injury.  That isn’t the case if you are injured on a “public carrier” like a bus or subway.  In the Benavides case, the Court decided that once a passenger establishes that he or she was injured while riding on a public carrier then the assumption is that the public carrier was negligent.  The burden of proof then shifts to the public carrier to establish that the passenger’s injuries occurred without negligence on the part of the carrier.  It is not, of itself, a breach of the standard of care for a bus driver to stop abruptly, even where there is an indication that special precautions may be warranted with respect to an elderly, frail or physically compromised passenger.  The issue of liability will generally depend on not only the manner of the stop, but the reason for its suddenness, and the assessment of whether, in all of the circumstances, the impunged driving conduct was substandard when measured against the standard expected of a reasonably prudent driver.  That is to say, the bus driver will have to prove what he did was proper instead of you having to prove that it was improper.
In the Benavides case, the court found that Mr. Benavides had established that he was in fact injured while a passenger on a Translink so the burden shifted to Translink to show that his injuries occurred without negligence on its part.  The Court found Translink liable for Mr. Benavides injuries because contrary to Translink training, the driver did not decelerate smoothly as he approached the bus stop; a reasonable and prudent bus driver would anticipate that there would be passengers standing at or near the exit door and there was no evidence that the driver braked abruptly in order to avoid an unexpected hazard or for any reason other than to stop at or near the bus stop.
If you have been injured while travelling on a public carrier, please contact Sharene Orstad at Drysdale Bacon McStravick LLP for a free consultation.

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