Woman loses £50k claim for injury after bus braked sharply

Fiona Pryke leaves the Court of Session. Picture: Ciaran Donnelly
Fiona Pryke leaves the Court of Session. Picture: Ciaran Donnelly

A COURT official has lost a legal action after suing a bus firm for £50,000 when she was injured as the driver suddenly braked.

A judge expressed sympathy for Fiona Pryke for the “unfortunate accident” she suffered but said the mere occurrence of it was not sufficient for her to receive damages from the firm.

Lord Pentland said he had come to the view that First Scotland East had succeeded in showing that their driver had acted reasonably in the circumstances. The judge said the bus driver, Alexander Kirkwood, had impressed him as an experienced and careful bus driver concerned for the care of his passengers.

Lord Pentland said: “On the whole I thought he gave his evidence in an honest and straightforward manner.”

The judge said there was no reliable evidence of excessive speed on his part and he accepted his evidence that he had slowed down to an appropriate level as he approached Newbridge roundabout.

The driver said he had to brake sharply and abruptly 
to avoid a collision with a 
vehicle which drove across his path.

Lord Pentland said previous legal authority showed that the proper view of the onus in such a case was that, the incident having occurred, the defender – the firm – must prove that their driver acted reasonably in dealing with it.

Miss Pryke was travelling on a double decker bus from Edinburgh city centre to West Lothian when the incident happened leaving her with a laceration on her nose and soft tissue injuries. Her spectacles were also damaged.

The 50-year-old civil servant subsequently raised an action against the bus firm at the Court of Session in Edinburgh claiming £50,000 damages following the accident in June in 2014.

Miss Pryke, who works with the Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service, told the court that the bus had stopped “abruptly” and she was thrown forward out of her seat and her face struck the seat in front. She said: “I wasn’t able to stop myself in time.”

The accident victim said her nose was sore and she was bleeding and told the court: “The pain was quite severe.”

She later went downstairs and asked the driver what had happened and asked for an incident report to be filled in.

“I basically asked him what happened. He told me about a white van cutting him up,” she said.

Mr Kirkwood, 69, who is now retired, said he was driving the bus just after the last of the peak traffic and was slowing approaching traffic lights. He said: “I just saw the flash come straight across me so I jumped on the brake rather than collide with anyone. I took it it was a van. It happened so quickly.”

He said Miss Pryke had come downstairs bleeding and he took her to hospital.