Court rules that bus driver is immune from responsibility in rear-end collision
Donna Marie Barber was injured after a Bay Metro Transportation Authority bus initiated a multi-vehicle collision by rear-ending a car behind Barber. In order to prove a claim against a governmental actor, Barber was required to allege and prove "gross negligence" under the governmental immunity statute.
Barber's attorneys attempted to meet this aggravated negligence standard through estimates provided by other witnesses which Barber argued demonstrated that the bus driver was inattentive for 7 to 10 seconds, given his following distance and late reation. The driver, Daryl Watson, admitted that he was looking at the floor immediately before the collision and did not see the stopping vehicles in time to avoid striking them. The victim's attorneys argued that alleged inattention for such a long period constituted more than "mere negligence" and could be found by a jury to constitute "gross" negligence. The trial court found this argument persuasive and refused to dismiss the claim, however, the Court of Appeals disagreed and reversed the lower court. Barber's injuries will go uncompensated because they were caused only by a "failure of due care." That adds insult to injury.