In 2011, we represented a woman whom was injured getting off a major bus line’s bus in San Antonio. The company knew her by name and the driver knew her by name. They always helped her by placing a stool for her to use. She had limited mobility and vision. One day, the bus driver did not place the stool as he had every other time. She fell and broke her leg. This case had many novel issues and led to a good resolution for our client.
Justin Hill: Welcome to Hill Law Firm Cases, a podcast discussing real world cases handled by Justin Hill and the Hill Law Firm. For confidentiality reasons, names and amounts of any settlements have been removed. However, the facts are real and these are the cases we handle on a day-to-day basis.
One specific area of practice I’ve been very involved in my entire career has been bus accidents, bus crash cases. I’ve handled bus crash cases against all of the major busing companies in the United States. I’ve handled them all over the state of Texas and other states. There’s a lot of things about a bus crash that makes it unique. One is that they’re held to a higher degree of care under Texas law. They are called what is referred to as a common carrier. They receive money to transport people and the law says you can do that, but if you do that, you’re going to be held to a higher standard of care. I’m going to talk about a lot of the different bus cases I’ve handled on Hill Law Firm Cases, but one in particular I thought was very interesting.
We were contacted by a lady whose mother had fallen and broken her leg getting off one of these buses. At first it sounded just like a lady had fallen. Then we started digging into the case. The client was in her mid to late eighties. She had limited mobility. She had been riding these buses for years, the same bus company and the same route. She would travel to see family and she did it about once a month. She usually had the same of three or four different drivers. Most of them had come to know her by name. They all helped her get on and off the bus. In particular, one thing they did was they provided her a stool to get on and off the bus. Due to her age and her health, she was unable to step up to the first step without that stool. It had become so commonplace that it was always there.
On one day they had stopped in San Antonio and as she was getting off the bus, the driver had forgot to put the stool there. As she was getting off, she expected the stool to be there as it always had been. It was not. She fell and she broke her leg. At her age a broken leg means that her mobility will even be more limited throughout the remainder of her life. We were able to work that case and bring in the Americans with Disabilities Act. We worked the case different than other law firms because we’re different than other law firms. At first, the bus company took the position this lady had just fallen, and then after witnesses deposed said that she was always taken care of, that everybody knew her and that she was always given a stool, they changed their tune. We were able to resolve this case.
That client still keeps in touch with us. Even though that case is more than 10 years old, the client is still alive. We stay in touch with her. We stay in touch with her daughter. That’s one thing that makes us different is we stay in touch with our clients. They keep us updated on how they’re doing in life. It’s one of my favorite things about being an attorney. I’ve always enjoyed doing bus crash cases. It’s something that we think we’re oddly positioned for, we’re better at than many and we handle more than most. This one was an atypical bus crash case because it wasn’t so much as a crash as it was a premises liability case and a negligent activity case and arguably an ADA violation. Our ability to bring in all of those elements to prove our case is what changed this case and what led to a settlement.