On July 29, 2009, Anne Graper called Access-A-Ride, a paratransit service in New York, to pick her up the following day and to take her to “Special Surgery Hospital” to visit her daughter who just had a hip surgery. According to Ms. Graper, the driver dropped her off at the wrong location. She tripped and fell when she tried to cross a crowded street to go to the correct building.
Ms. Graper sued the Metropolitan Transit Authority New York City, operator of Access-A-Ride, to recover damages for the injuries she sustained. She said that MTA, as a common carrier, has an obligation to see to it that she is safety deposited in the correct location given her age, health and previous history of falling.
A source explained that it has been a rule that a common carrier has a duty to a passenger to stop at a place where the passenger may safely disembark and leave the area. However, once that occurs, no further duty exists, the report added.
A common carrier engaged in the transportation of disabled passengers not only has a duty to exercise reasonable care for the passengers’ safety in keeping with the dangers and risks known to the carrier or which it should reasonably have anticipated, but also a duty to exercise additional care for his safety as was reasonably required for the passengers’ disabilities, the source continued.
The authority noted that although Ms. Graper disclosed in her application for paratransit services with the MTA that she has difficulty in breathing and is suffering from leg pain, these disclosures did not suggest to the MTA that Ms. Graper needed the assistance of another person to make sure that she does not forget where she had to go, or that she did not wander away from the destination where the driver was supposed to drop her off. Ms. Graper, the friend added, did not disclose any mental or balance limitations in her application.
According to the friend, citing sources, Ms. Graper safely embarked from the Access-A-Ride vehicle. Testimony from the driver, Dawn Fiedtkou, showed that Ms. Graper was dropped at 535 East 70th Street — the address indicated in the trip ticket. According to court records, Ms. Graper did not give Access-A-Ride the hospital’s specific address. But whether or not the driver dropped off Ms. Graper in front of the requested building, or escorted her across the street, is unnecessary because Ms. Graper was left off at a safe location, terminating the duty owed to her by MTA as a common carrier, the report said.
The source also pointed out that Ms. Graper’s testimonies did not show what exactly caused her to fall. Ms. Graper said she missed a step, thus causing her to fall and get injured, but did not offer further evidence or testimony to back it up.
So far, no criminal charges have been brought.
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