BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — Victims in a 2015 MAX Transit bus crash won a lawsuit against the bus driver and the Birmingham Jefferson County Transit Authority (BJCTA). The jury awarded $12 million to injured passengers.
The crash happened after the bus driver had a medical emergency behind the wheel. The bus careened off the road in Fairfield and dropped 25-30 feet into a ravine.
Nineteen people were taken to the hospital with injuries. Two were reportedly in critical condition.
One passenger lost her leg because of the crash. Her attorneys said it’s because she saw what was happening and was trying to help.“She took it upon herself at the age of 60 to jump up from her seat and charge towards the front of the bus to try to take control of the steering wheel when she saw that he was fainting. And just as she got to the front of the bus, the bus actually hit the curb and started to roll down the ravine, and she was unable to grab the steering wheel. But because she did that — because she sacrificed her own well-being — she was at the front of the bus when the handicap lift — the wheelchair lift — collapsed down sort of in a guillotine fashion on her leg,” said attorney Brandon Bishop.
The attorneys for the passengers, Bishop and Sara Williams, said they’re happy about the verdict, but they hope more will come out of this trial.
Evidence was presented in court that showed the driver had been involved in 14 prior wrecks as a bus driver and had passed out while operating the bus on two other occasions.
Williams said she believes the verdict was a message from the community to the BJCTA that they expect better in terms of safety.“As a community we all have an interest in ensuring that this doesn’t happen again because God forbid it happens on the interstate,” said Williams. “Luckily, it wasn’t in a more highly traveled area and the bus went off the road. But had it struck multiple cars, we probably would be talking about something else.”
CBS 42 spoke with the attorney for the BJCTA in the case. He said at this point, they are considering all their legal options, which could include a motion for a new trial or an appeal.