Maryland Plaintiff Brings Suit After Injury in Bus Assisted-Boarding

Individuals who have been hurt while in the care or on the property of another person or business may be able to pursue compensation from negligent parties in a personal injury claim. A plaintiff in a recent case filed a negligence claim after she was injured while being loaded onto a Maryland Transportation Authority bus. She appealed the jury verdict, which found in favor of the defendant, and the case was reviewed by the Court of Special Appeals of Maryland in a May 10, 2017 opinion.The defendant in the case was the employer of a Maryland Transportation Authority bus driver. The bus driver had assisted the plaintiff, who was in a wheelchair, in boarding the bus. After raising the steel lift to a height that would allow the plaintiff to move into the bus, the driver entered the bus to assist her from the inside. However, as the driver boarded the bus, the wheelchair tipped backwards, and the plaintiff fell on her back. The plaintiff claimed the driver’s employer was vicariously liable for the negligence of its employee.

The plaintiff had argued that the driver violated the defendant’s safety procedures and policies, which provided that operators are not permitted to leave passengers unattended on lifts in the upward position on inclines or ramps. The defendant contended that the driver did not actually leave her but attempted to follow the proper procedure by getting on the bus to pull the plaintiff’s wheelchair into the bus from the lift. At trial, both the driver and his supervisor testified that the driver’s actions complied with all of the defendant’s safety protocols and procedures. After the jury found that the driver was not negligent, the plaintiff moved for a judgment notwithstanding the verdict, which was denied by the trial court.

A negligence claim requires proof that the defendant was under a duty to protect the plaintiff from injury, that the defendant breached that duty, that the plaintiff suffered an actual injury or loss, and that the loss or injury proximately resulted from the defendant’s breach of the duty. In terms of duty, a common carrier, such as the defendant, is charged with the highest degree of care to its passengers. Negligence is commonly recognized as doing something that a person using reasonable care would not do. Reasonable care refers to the caution, attention, or skill a reasonable person would use under similar circumstances.

On appeal, the court found that the record demonstrated sufficient evidence supporting a verdict that the driver was not negligent. The court pointed to the investigation report and testimony of the road supervisor, who investigated the accident involving the plaintiff. In particular, the court noted that the road supervisor testified that there were no breaches of safety protocols or deviations from normal procedures, and his testimony alone would be sufficient to sustain the jury’s determination in this case. In addition, the driver testified that he did not deviate from any proper procedures or protocols in attempting to board the plaintiff onto the bus. Accordingly, the court affirmed the decision of the trial court in denying the plaintiff’s motion for judgment notwithstanding the verdict.

The Maryland accident attorneys at Foran & Foran, P.A. can provide compassionate and trusted legal guidance to individuals regarding premises liability and other personal injury claims.  If you are seeking representation or advice after an accident, schedule an appointment with one of our injury lawyers by calling (301) 441-2022 or contacting us online.

More Blog Posts:

Maryland Court Discusses Doctrine of Res Ipsa Loquitur in Personal Injury Appeal, Maryland Personal Injury Blog, published June 3, 2016

Maryland Court Affirms Summary Judgment in Slip and Fall Limo Case, Maryland Personal Injury Blog, published March 23, 2016

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