Accidents with public transit are rare, in my experience as a Pembroke Pines auto accident lawyer. So I was very interested to see a report that two pedestrians, one a visitor to Florida, were injured Feb. 22 after a Sun Trolley bus pulled into their crosswalk. According to the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, the bus was attempting to go south on State Road A1A at its intersection with Northeast Ninth Street in Fort Lauderdale. The driver apparently failed to notice pedestrians Alan George Acheson, 68, of Toronto, and Arline Fitz Maurice, 74, of Port Charlotte. Fitz Maurice refused medical treatment at the scene, but Acheson suffered leg, chest and neck injuries that were treated at Broward General Hospital.
The Sun Trolley is the name for the bus system in Fort Lauderdale; it is not an actual trolley with tracks, but a bus. According to the article, bus driver Sharon Better Ann Midi, 45, was turning the bus into the crosswalk when she heard a thud on the right side. Witnesses said that was when the bus hit Acheson and Fitz Maurice. Acheson fell beneath the bus after the collision, but Fitz Maurice reportedly was only pushed sideways by the bus. Witnesses said they had a walk signal at the time. Midi told the police she had a green light and was driving at only 5 mph at the time. The police did not suspect her of drug or alcohol abuse, but she was taken off duty and sent for the drug and alcohol testing that is standard for Broward County Transit after any crash, a Sun Trolley spokesperson said.
As a Miramar car accident attorney, I was interested to see this because it’s not often that buses are involved in serious crashes. Like all commercial drivers, bus drivers get into far fewer accidents than private drivers, in part because they’re at work and on their best behavior. But drivers can and do make mistakes, and judging from the citation, the police seem to believe that this driver made one when she entered the crosswalk. Even if she faces no further criminal penalties, the victims of this wreck and their loved ones will still be able to hold her legally accountable with a lawsuit. That would allow them to collect damages for the hospital bills — which may be an unpleasant surprise to Acheson, a Canadian — as well as any permanent injuries they sustained.