I fell and injured myself when I was trying to enter a bus. The bus driver did not pull up to the curb where the bus stop was located. Instead, he stopped in the lane of travel near the bus stop, approximately five to ten feet from the curb. When I left the curb to walk to the bus stop, I tripped and fell in a street pothole between the curb and the bus door. Can I sue the bus for my injuries?
Unfortunately, the best answer you can get at this point is probably. The law in this area is developed only in the Common Law. Common law is not a statute passed by the legislature and signed by the governor. The Common Law regarding buses in New York City has developed over decades with judicial decisions decided by the Supreme Court and the Appellate Courts. As explained in prior blogs, there is a legal principle of stare decisis which states that similar cases should yield similar results. This means each case is a little different and each case requires research to find a similar case.
First, there is a long line of cases which state that bus drivers have a duty to drop off and pick up passengers in a safe place. The next question would be if the bus driver discharged his duty by stopping so far away from the curb near a street pothole? The closest case to your facts is found in Defay v City of New York, et al, 174 AD3d 406, 101 NYS3d 603 (1st Dept. 2019). In that case, a gentleman fell in a Manhattan street pothole while walking from the bus stop curb to the bus. The pothole was in the pedestrian’s path walking from the curb to board the bus, approximately seven or eight feet away. This seems similar to your case. But ultimately it would be up to a jury to decide whether the bus driver was acting “reasonably” under the circumstances.
The careful attorney would not stop by suing the New York City Transit Authority. Because the City of New York, not the New York City Transit Authority, has the duty to maintain bus stops, streets, sidewalks and curbs. Therefore, the real issue might be whether the pedestrian entering the bus took the most direct route from the curb to the bus. The New York City Transit Authority may argue that there was no causal relationship between the street pothole and the place where the bus stopped. The Transit Authority may argue that the pedestrian did not take the most direct route from the curb to the bus door. Thus, The Transit Authority could argue that there was no causal relationship between the place where the bus driver stopped to pick up the pedestrian and the bus stop because the pothole was not in the most direct route.
So that is why the answer to the question is that you probably do have a claim against the bus; but your careful attorney will also sue the City of New York as well.