A lawsuit filed Friday claims the Chicago Transit Authority failed to properly secure a woman’s wheelchair to the bus over three years ago.
On March 10, 2012, Veronica Martinez, 28, was a wheelchair passenger on a southbound No. 6 Jackson Park Express bus. She boarded the bus at State and Washington, and there were roughly 12 people on the bus with her when she was injured, according to the bus driver’s deposition.
Around 7:30 p.m., the bus driver slammed on the brakes near 79th Street and Jeffery Boulevard, which caused Martinez “to be thrown forward with great force,” according to the suit and the bus driver’s deposition.
Martinez, who has cerebral palsy, hit her head and suffered temporary and permanent injuries, according to the suit and Cammon Lambert, Martinez’ lawyer.
In his Feb. 7, 2013 deposition, the bus driver said he applied the brakes because he saw a woman jump from behind a tree and he “couldn’t tell if she was going to step on that curb to get the bus or if she was going to continue out into the street.”
The bus driver said he was made aware of the incident when a passenger yelled. The driver was coming up to a bus stop and parked the bus to see what happened, according to the deposition.
The driver said he drove the No. 6 route for a year before this incident and that there was no procedure at the time requiring driver to get up and check that a wheelchair was secured.
Martinez wanted to file the lawsuit soon after the incident, but it took some time to gather all the information, Lambert said.
“When the bus driver slammed on the brakes unnecessarily, [Martinez] swung forward and hit her head on the pole,” Lambert said. “We think drivers have to be held to the standards set forth by law.”
A CTA spokesperson said the agency cannot comment on pending litigation. The Chicago Police Department could not immediately provide details of the incident.
The one-count lawsuit claims the CTA carelessly and negligently operated the bus at a speed that was greater “than reasonable and proper” and failed to secure, strap in or harness Martinez and her wheelchair before driving the bus.
The lawsuit seeks over $50,000 in damages.