Bus seat back injury in Surrey nets $92K court award

NEW WESTMINSTER — A bus passenger whose back was injured when he was bounced off a seat during his morning commute has been awarded nearly $92,000 in court.

Mark Steven Hutchinson, 58 at the time, sued TransLink, Coast Mountain Bus Company Ltd. and bus driver Cliff Dyck for an incident that happened in the 11600-block of Grace Road in Surrey on Oct. 29, 2010.

The City of Surrey was named as a third party defendant but Hutchinson dropped that claim prior to the trial in B.C. Supreme Court in New Westminster, over which Justice Jennifer Duncan presided.

The court heard Hutchison typically took transit to and from work.

On Oct. 29, 2010 he boarded a bus at Scott Road station to take him to his office in Delta. It was dark and damp, but not raining. Hutchinson sat on a bench seat at the back, where the lights were, so he could read his newspaper.

The court heard that, roughly five or 10 minutes later, the bus was traveling along Grace Road when without warning Hutchinson and two seatmates were thrown up off the seat after the bus went over a dip in the road.

 Hutchinson told the court he felt like he was suspended about three feet in the air, but knew that wasn’t possible. He then fell back down. The seat dropped away, rose up and struck him, he said. His vertebrae fractured, he was left kneeling on the floor, next to his seat, holding the vertical bar and was in a great deal of pain.

Someone yelled to the driver to stop, and an ambulance took Hutchison to Surrey Memorial Hospital.

He told the judge he thought the bus was doing between 60 and 80 kilometres per hour.

The court heard Dyck was a bus driver more than 32 years and had a 25-year safe driving record. He retired three years before the trial.

Dyck testified he thought he was doing about 30 km/ when he hit a depression in the road so wide his bus’s wheels went right in. He said he slammed on the brakes because he didn’t want the back wheels to also hit the depression and felt two impacts – at the front axle and back axle.

This happened at roughly 5:30 a.m. and he didn’t have his high beams on.

Duncan noted that the consensus among bus drivers was that this was a "terrible patch of road.

"The plaintiff was ejected from his seat on the bus while simply sitting there and minding his own business," Duncan found. "The defendant bus driver owed the plaintiff a duty of care."

She found Dyck knew there was a bump in the road but he couldn’t see how deep it was because it was dark and raining. "In other words, he saw it but did not approach it in such a fashion as to judge it properly."

Hutchinson sought $110,000 in compensation for his injury but got $91,785.39.

Tom.zytaruk@thenownewspaper.com

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