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PITTSBURG – Gemma Bassi, a 70-year-old woman, was badly injured last year in a bus accident as a result of being thrown from her wheelchair while riding the bus. She has filed a lawsuit for $250,000 against the city of Pittsburg and the bus company, Tri-Delta Transit.

In the lawsuit, Bassa claims she suffered multiple fractured bones, a sprained neck, injuries to her lower back and multiple contusions when a Dial-a-Ride bus she was taking slammed into a speed bump on Norine Road while allegedly going too fast. The accident occurred on December 23, 2014, causing Bassi to be thrown from her wheelchair into the interior side of the bus. As she was thrown her feet became jammed beneath an interior wheel well, causing several toes to break and her dentures to be permanently damaged, according to her attorney. Ironically, Bassi was returning from the hospital when the accident occurred.

 The lawsuit claims an employee of Tri-Delta Transit did not properly secure Bassi, who was 69 at the time, into her wheelchair for the ride. The lawsuit further claims that the speed bumps on Norine Road were not properly marked by the city of Pittsburg, which caused the bus to go airborne after speeding over one. 

The city is refuting those allegations, saying they had signs posted on Norine Road that warned drivers of the speed bumps coming up at that location. However her attorney, who was on the city council of Pittsburg at one time, said the city was obligated to do more. “Back in the day, when I sat on the city council, we didn’t place speed bumps right in the middle of a street because we knew there would be liability issues,” Her attorney said. “I have no idea when they determined that this was an effective method of controlling speed.”

Bassi claims that the bus driver told her that day that he was “in a hurry.” He was familiar with that street, as he’d driven that route a number of times before, according to the plaintiff's attorney. After the accident, the city painted huge white markers on the pavement approaching the speed bumps.

When asked to comment on the allegations spelled out in the lawsuit, Jeanne Krieg, General Manager of Tri-Delta, said her agency had yet to be served with the lawsuit, so she could not comment. However, she did say that Tri-Delta Transit has a contract with a company, called First Transit that assumes liability in cases like this. This means, according to Krieg, that taxpayers would not be on the hook for any costs as a result of the lawsuit. Joe Sbranti, Pittsburg City Manager said they have a similar contract with an outside agency that will deal with the lawsuit. The initial legal claim that was filed by Bassi was rejected by the city on the grounds that the city did not play a part in the bus accident.

Bassi is still recovering from her injuries from last December’s bus accident, according to her attorney. She spent weeks being treated in a hospital immediately following the accident, and then was moved to a care home to continue healing. She continues to suffer from back problems in addition to all her other pre-existing medical conditions, her attorney said.

Transportation liability remains the most common type of personal injury claim along with wrongful death. Millions of people rely daily on private and public transportation to get where they need to go. If you or a loved one has been involved in an accident on public transportation due to negligence and would like the advice of an experienced personal injury attorney, please Contact Us today. We will answer your questions; explain your legal rights and how best to protect them.

Published on behalf of O'Connor, Runckel & O'Malley LLP

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