Posted: March 10th, 2022
A passenger has been awarded €126,000 at the High Court in relation to injuries she sustained when the bus she was travelling on had to promptly slow down in order to prevent a road traffic collision.
38-year-old Jennifer Quaid from O’Malley Park, Limerick took the legal action against Bus Eireann in relation to the persisting back injury she sustained as a result of the incident that took place on April 19, 2014.
Presiding Judge Justice Emily Egan held that the bus driver was acting with reasonable care when the incident took place and this resulted in a sudden stop to avoid a crash occurring. She said that this was “wholly avoidable” where the driver bore full responsibility. It was held that Bus Éireann acted in breach of its duty and Ms Quaid had bore no responsibility in relation to contributory negligence as she was seated at the time the incident took place.
Ms Justice Egan described the series of events that resulted in the incident occurring as the bus travelled from a minor road and onto Roxboro Road. The available dashcam footage indicated that the bus was moving beyond a stop sign and corresponding line prior to bringing the speed down to 2km/hr at the edge of Roxboro Road. It is clear from the footage that the driver looked in both directions, and the vehicle then sped up to 11km/hr as it approached the centre line of the road in order to turn right.
The Judge said that it was clear, from the dashcam footage, that the driver had not noticed a car approaching in the far lane prior to moving the bus across the centre line. Due to this it was necessary to quickly apply the brakes and allow the car to veer left, avoiding a collision. Additionally Justice Egan remarked how it was noticeable that the reactions of passengers on board the bus “are very subtle” and said that it could be seen that mother-of-two Ms Quaid lifted the lower part of her left arm towards the top of the seat in front of her. However, the camera angle makes it hard to ascertain if Ms Quaid’s torso shifts forward or back when the brakes are applied.
In the legal action, Ms Quaid claimed that she sustained a persisting back injury as a result of the incident where the bus driver braked suddenly to avoid collision. Despited refuting the negligence claims, Bus Éireann accepted heavier than normal braking was applied to stop an accident from occurring. Additionally, the defendant claimed that Ms Quaid could not have sustained an injury due to the event in question.
The judge was informed that Ms Quaid had, prior to the incident, been diagnosed with Crohn’s disease and attended her family doctor due to back pain on two previous occasions. It was accepted by the Judge that Ms Quaid was more susceptible to back injury due to her pre-existing degenerative condition. It was agreed by medical experts for both parties that the jolting, regardless of the extent of the force involved, was likely to have resulted in Ms Quaid’s subsequent back issues.
In the aftermath of the incident Ms Quaid attended her family and was referred to an orthopaedic consultant for further investigation. This is when it was discovered that she had spinal disc protrusion and disc bulges. Following a series of attempted treatments, the pain remained and a March 2021 examination found she was still suffering from chronic lower back pain, secondary pain and a radiating ache through her left leg.
The court was happy that there was no effort by Ms McQuaid to exaggerate her level of pain and discomfort. Additionally, Justice Egan was not willing to lay blame on the part of the bus driver for not coming to a complete stop at the stop line where, it was accepted, visibility was impeded.
She added that it may well be acceptable for a driver to instead come to a halt at the mouth of the junction for improved visibility or, in a larger bus, to stop at the road’s centre line to allow traffic coming from the the left to proceed. Despite this she said it “cannot be acceptable” for the bus to move over the white line and into the path of an oncoming vehicle which should have been visible to the driver.
Due to the suffering she sustained in the incident, Ms Justice Egan awarded Ms Quaid general damages of €125,000 together with agreed special damages of €1,550.
Categories: Car Accidents, Passengers in Car Accidents, Road Traffic Accidents