Bus driver sues over boom crane crash

An elderly Cayman Islands bus driver has sued over a 23 December, 2009, accident that left him with serious injuries and some facial disfigurement, according to a writ of summons filed in late October.

The writ, which seeks recovery of medical bills and lost wages, as well as payment for other damages, has been filed in the Grand Court against the operator of a boom lift vehicle and the company that owns it.

The monetary amount for the damages was mostly not specified in the writ. The bus driver, 66-year-old Elbert Rivers Yates, made about $2,500 per month at his job. His bus, which was totalled in the wreck was worth about $6,000, the writ states. “The plaintiff (Mr. Yates) has suffered a loss of amenities of life as a result of his injuries,” the writ states. “The plaintiff is unable to socialise as he did prior to the accident. The plaintiff is permanently disabled and disfigured as a result of the accident and his life will never return to its previous state.”

According to the court record, Mr. Yates’ Toyota Hiace van was heading south on West Bay Road just after 6am on 23 December when the boom lift vehicle drove across the street coming from Piper’s Way. The boom lift was extended while the operator was driving the vehicle and struck the front-top section of Mr. Yates’ van.

Mr. Yates’ attorneys claim that the boom lift vehicle was not insured and that it’s operator was not in possession of a special licence to drive it.

These items were “legal requirements in the Cayman Islands at the time of the accident”, the writ states.

In a defence and counterclaim statement filed by the company that owned the boom lift, lawyers asserted that the bus driver actually drove into the centre lane of West Bay Road and that the boom lift operator did not ‘drive across the street’. “The [bus driver’s] vehicle drifted out of its correct south-bound lane, crossed over the painted white line…and collided with the basket at the end of the boom,” the statement of defence read.

While the company admitted that the boom lift vehicle was not insured, it disputed the claim that possession of an insurance policy relating to third party risks incurred by the vehicle was a legal requirement in Cayman at the time of the wreck.

In the defence statement the company claims that Mr. Yates was simply diving too fast for the weather conditions and did not have full control of his vehicle at all times.

In his defence claim, the driver of the boom lift vehicle made no admission regarding insurance and licencing claims and denied that the accident was due to his own negligence.

Rather, the boom lift operator stated that any loss or damage suffered by the bus driver from the wreck was through the driver’s own negligence or contributory negligence. After the accident, Mr. Yates was hospitalised in Miami for about 12 weeks. He suffered some broken facial bones and severe cut to his face that required surgery and which left him “permanently disfigured”, the writ claimed

Since the bus driver has been unable to work since the crash, his attorneys are seeking payment of wages and reimbursement for the value of the bus. The lawsuit also seeks repayment of hospital bills and general damages such as the court “may deem just”.

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