I learn too often about bus accidents, where serious injuries occur to pedestrians when hit. I recently learned that on Tuesday, February 14, 2012, a pedestrian was pinned underneath a shuttle busand pinned underneath the bus for a long period of time. This bus pedestrian accident occurred in San Francisco’s Tenderloin neighborhood at around 2:18 p.m. at Eddy and Leavenworth Streets.
I was sad to report that the pedestrian’s injuries were considered life-threatening, but thankfully he is expected to survive.
A nearby store surveillance camera happened to capture the shuttle bus accident on film, and it clearly shows the pedestrian using the crosswalk when he was hit by the shuttle bus.
Two ambulances were called–one for the pedestrian and another for the driver, who began suffering from a medical problem. Both were transported to a local San Francisco hospital.
After watching the visceral image of man with a cane being mowed down by a shuttle bus, most would expect a grim fate for the driver. However, the San Francisco District Attorney’s Office stated that thelaw doesn’t really call for criminal charges when a car hits a pedestrian unless the victim actually dies. [Note: in the case of bicyclist Chris Bucchere the pedestrian died].
Fortunately, in this incident, the man who was hit and pinned under the bus for over 20 minutes has survived, albeit with broken bones.
Should the DA press charges against the driver who negligently drove over a pedestrian in a crosswalk? What truly was the state of mind of the bus driver as he drove into that crosswalk? As a San Francisco Pedestrian Accident Attorney and bus accident lawyer, I rarely see the DA’s office press charges against negligent drivers, even when the incident does result in a fatality.
Pedestrians on our city streets rely upon crosswalks for their safety to some extent, particularly when their light is green. Pedestrians should know that crosswalks don’t necessarily stop cars or busses. Of course, pedestrians count on most drivers looking carefully before turning into a crosswalk.
Should the DA file criminal charges in this case for gross negligence or for reckless driving? Accidentally causing a traffic accident that leads to injury is not a crime under California law unless the driver acted recklessly or was grossly negligent. The DA elaborates to say that “in order to be found reckless, you must be acting in a willful disregard for the safety of others.”
So, if the criminal laws won’t protect pedestrians as long as they survive, what laws will help? It is the Civil Justice System that assures that the parties at fault for causing injuries and damages and loss are held accountable.
The Civil Justice System is the system by which injury survivors can claim and be allowed compensatory damages for the injuries they have suffered from the negligence of another party. The criminal system puts people in jail and levies fines; however, it rarely compensates the victim or survivor for their out-of-pocket expenses and never compensates them for their pain or suffering or loss of earning capacity. The criminal justice system is more dramatic in that it causes wrongdoers to be locked up; however, the only system that attempts to actually help the survivor is the Civil Justice System.
I work hard to make sure the Civil Justice System works to assure full accountability for the damages that negligent drivers cause. This is what plaintiffs’ attorneys do.
About the author: Claude Wyle is an aggressive advocate for San Francisco Bay Area pedestrians. Claude has decades of experience representing those harmed by the wrongful conduct of others, and, as a San Francisco personal injury attorney, has fought to protect the rights of injured adults and children throughout his legal career.