A bus operator has agreed a £32,000 personal injury compensation settlement with a passenger after she suffered a broken leg in a fall and was not offered any help by the driver.
The woman, 54, had been travelling back home after working late as a cleaner when the incident happened, after she had walked to the front of the bus as her stop approached.
She said she had already had an unpleasant exchange of words with the driver of the First Bus service from Leeds city centre when she got on, as he ‘snapped’ at her when trying to scan her pass card.
The woman says she then made a comment about his attitude towards customers as she stood by his seat when approaching her stop.
As part of a legal case against the bus company, led by Hudgell Solicitors’ Leeds-based personal injury manager Karen Smith, it was alleged that the driver then suddenly closed the bus doors, pulled away and drove on without allowing the woman to leave the bus at her stop.
It was claimed the driver’s actions caused the woman to fall back onto the floor of the bus sustaining her injuries, and that despite her repeated requests for help, even telling the driver she feared she had broken her leg, he completely ignored her and carried on driving to the next stop.
At the next step another passenger, and a passer-by, then helped the woman to her feet and off the bus. She was left on the grass verge alone, unable to stand. The bus driver failed to call the police or ambulance and left the scene.
The woman had to call her son and had to wait over an hour for assistance to take her to hospital.
Woman left unable to work for 10 months and still on crutches
Unable to return to work since the incident, which happened on May 18, 2018, the woman, who has asked not to be named, is stilling suffering pain and needs crutches to walk any significant distance.
“It was all a bit unbelievable actually but I still can’t believe how the driver treated me,” she said.
“I’d had him as a driver on previous occasions and I’d often seen him be quite rude and grumpy towards other passengers. On this occasion he snapped at me as I got on and tried to use the ticket machine to scan my pass as it wasn’t working, but how was I to know that?
“Because he was rude I made a sarcastic comment along the lines of him being his usual cheerful self, as I don’t like to let people speak to me like he did. He made a remark to another customer, so when it came to my stop I decided to say something, as I don’t think it is right to be so rude to people.
“I simply said to him that if he was more polite to his passengers, he may find they were then more polite to him. I didn’t swear at him or act in an abusive way.
“All of a sudden he started shouting at me aggressively and swearing at me, then he shut the doors before I could leave and drove off. I was telling him to stop and let me off but he carried on driving. The next thing I knew the bus swung around a corner and I lost my balance and ended up on my back.
“It was immediately painful but he just ignored me. Some passengers helped me to my feet but as soon as I tried to put any weight on my foot I just collapsed back to the ground.
“I said to him that I thought it could be broken but he just ignored me completely and carried on driving. Even when we came to the next stop he didn’t move or speak to me. A man who was on the bus helped me off with a pedestrian who was passing by the stop.
“The driver just completely ignored all that was happening and looked the other way. As soon as I was off the bus he drove off.”
Bus company admitted liability for injuries suffered following legal claim
As part of a legal case through Hudgell Solicitors, it was alleged the bus company was negligent and vicariously liable for the woman’s injuries, due to the driver’s ‘appalling behaviour’ and his failure to stop and offer support.
Personal Injury manager Karen Smith said: “Public transport operators have a duty of care for the safety of their passengers but this driver showed no care or compassion.
“He gave our client no warning that he was going to suddenly drive away, knowing full well that she had wanted to leave the bus at that stop. As a result of this our client fell and suffered the break to her leg.
“Given that incident, he should then have stopped the bus and put her health first, but instead he continued and ignored her request for help.
“Failing to even acknowledge her injury and then driving away knowing that she’d had no medical assistance, and without taking any details from her, showed absolutely no regard for her well-being. It was appalling behaviour.”
The woman, who has been cared for by her 21-year-old son since the accident, says she feels companies and individuals should be held more responsible in such situations.
“I’ve been awarded damages as a result but it won’t have a big impact on the company as the money comes from the insurers. I think people and businesses should be accountable for their actions.
“People can’t be allowed to get away with treating people like this. I won’t be getting on a bus again that is certain. I was just lucky to have my son around afterwards as he has done all the work around the house and looked after me. He had just started a new job as well when this happened, he has been brilliant.”
Damages of £32,000 were offered and accepted.
In a statement to the media, First Bus said: “The safety of our customers is our highest priority and incidents such as this are extremely rare and we’d therefore like to apologise for the injury and experience that this customer received.
“We can confirm that we have paid the damages and that the driver is no longer employed with us.”