The teen had been walking to the Broward mass transit bus stop site with his mother when she had a problem with her shoe and fell. She urged him to hurry and catch the bus so he wouldn’t be late. He ran to the side of the large glass doors. A passenger shouted to the driver that there were “runners.” For reasons that aren’t clear, the driver shut the doors, closing in on the teen’s hand. Then, the bus pulled away, dragging the teen alongside and then partially running over him, all while his terrified mother watched and horrified bus passengers could hear his cries.
That was four years ago. Now 18, the boy has graduated from high school, but his life has been forever altered by the severe injuries – including traumatic brain injury – that he suffered that day. He was in a medically-induced coma for a full month. He struggles with neurocognitive disorder. He grapples with depression and central auditory processing disorder, which means he has trouble understanding speech. He also contends with neurospychological impairment in processing speed and memory. His motor dexterity is impaired, and he suffers with a wide range of other physical limitations.
Now, county commissioners have agreed they will pay the family $850,000 for their claim. That might sound like a lot, but it will likely only cover a fraction of the boy’s losses and he won’t even receive it all right away. They’ll still have to fight for some time longer. That’s because personal injury claims against government agencies are capped at $300,000, per the state’s sovereign immunity law. However, the remaining $550,000 will be available only if the state Legislature approves a claims bill. The bill has already been introduced by a Broward County Democrat in the state Senate, but there still needs to be a companion bill filed in the state House. That process could take years.
Meanwhile, the family’s medical bills have already topped $640,000.
State prosecutors insisted throughout this case that plaintiff’s hand wasn’t actually stuck in the door and that the teen actually ran alongside the bus before falling.
A passenger testified he saw the boy running alongside the bus, attempting to get on. He shouted to the driver to stop. Instead, the door closed. Asked why he didn’t stop, the driver could only respond with a series of, “I don’t know.” Passengers then said they heard a sickening, “thump.”
The driver was initially suspended without pay for a full two weeks and then demoted to a coach service attendant, cleaning and servicing the buses. However, when he appealed that ruling he was later given his old job back.
Recently, The Sun Sentinel reported that in addition to numerous safety concerns about the fitness of Broward transit drivers, many passengers have reported some drivers to be discourteous and unprofessional.
Last year, the Sentinel reported the Broward County Commission intended to crack down on accident-prone mass transit bus drivers. An investigation by the paper in 2013 revealed that Broward County Transit drivers with long histories of accidents and citations were often allowed to stay on the job, requiring at least five accidents in a rolling 24-month time frame to warrant termination.
Call Fort Lauderdale Injury Attorney Richard Ansara at (954) 761-4011. Serving Broward, Miami-Dade and Palm Beach counties.
Broward settles case of teen run over by bus, Feb. 1, 2017, By Brittany Wallman, The Sun Sentinel
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Baugh v. Cuprum – $11 Million Ladder Injury Verdict Affirmed, Jan. 31, 2017, Fort Lauderdale Bus Accident Lawyer Blog