Elderly woman awarded damages after being injured in fall on bus

Elderly woman awarded damages after being injured in fall on bus

An elderly woman who was injured after falling on a bus when the driver pulled away before she was seated has been awarded £10,000 damages.

A judge in the Court of Session ruled that the defenders, the driver’s employers, were liable to the pursuer because it was the movement of the bus while she was not seated which caused her to lose her balance and fall.

Lady Stacey (pictured) heard that Mary Steel, 82, boarded a coach operated by McGill’s Bus Service from Braehead shopping centre in Renfrewshire to her home in Dunoon in May 2013.

The retired shorthand typist was about to sit down, but lost her footing and fell head first down the stairs when the bus “jerked” as the driver pulled away from the stop outside the mall – breaking her collarbone as a result.

She raised an action for reparation, alleging that she fell due to the “negligence” of the bus driver employed by the defenders.

Counsel for the pursuer submitted that Mrs Steel’s injury caused her pain, depression and that she lost interest in her hobby of baking.

They argued the bus driver should have taken greater care and waited until she had sat down.

The defenders averred that their policy stated that passengers must be seated before the bus can commence travel and claimed that the driver watched the pursuer’s progress up the aisle of the bus and observed her taking a seat.

The defence position was the fall on the bus was not caused by the driver setting off and the bus jerking, but by Mrs Steel being “unsteady on her feet”, or by her taking “a dizzy turn”.

However, the judge ruled that there was “no evidence to support that theory”.

Delivering her opinion, Lady Stacey said: “In my opinion the defender’s driver failed to ensure that a passenger who had been seen by him to be elderly and unsteady was seated before moving off.

“In doing so he acted contrary to the defenders’ policy and in breach of common law.

“The movement of the bus while the pursuer was not seated caused her to lose her balance and fall. I find the defenders liable to the pursuers.

“I have decided that the appropriate award in respect of the physical and psychological injury is £10,000. I attribute £7500 to the past; while the pursuer has made a reasonable recovery she is still suffering a loss of confidence.”

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