City Pays Damages to Elderly Woman Who Lost Her Hand After Being Dragged by Trolley (4)

Photo: ERR
12/12/2013 2:22 PM
Category: Society

Last week, Tallinn's transport department agreed to pay 20,000 euros in damages to an 84-year-old woman whose hand was amputated after an accident in 2010.

The woman, Helje Lõiv, had been exiting a trolleybus in Tallinn's Mustamäe district when the door shut on her hand and the vehicle started driving again, dragging her along the road for 20 meters, reported ETV. After noticing people waving and shouting outside, the driver stopped to open the doors and free the woman, only to then continue driving.

Lõiv was left with all of her right ribs broken, a broken humerus and shoulder blade, and torn veins in her hand that doctors could not repair.

She described her experience at the hospital: "I started yelling 'if you cut off my hand, then take my life as well.' After that I fell unconscious again."

Four years later, Lõiv lives by herself, rarely leaves her apartment, and is brought food by a social worker.

Meanwhile, the bus driver who is at fault has fled the country, officials believe to Ukraine or Belarus, and a criminal conviction is currently improbable.

Lõiv's tragedy is one of the most severe instances, but accidents have been all too common on public transport. Indeed, they have decreased somewhat, from 52 recorded cases of passengers being caught between vehicle doors in Tallinn in 2011, to 24 in 2013.

Critics speculate that the low wages and low motivation of drivers, poor training, fatigue from overtime, or stressful schedules could be to blame for what officials concede is a relatively high number of accidents.

But the city does not share that view. "The number of such cases has decreased significantly since two years ago - by over half - and it has nothing to do with a stressful schedule or low wages, at least not in my opinion, because we have never penalized a single bus driver for falling behind schedule. Though it is impermissible to be ahead of schedule," said Enno Tamm, the head of the transport department, adding that he apologizes to all of the victims.

Lõiv's lawyer, Indrek Sirk, was more critical: "It can be said that some kind of breakthrough has occurred and the passenger carriage company has begun to understand its legal responsibility. The blind rejection that it's not our fault and everyone else is responsible has diminished and maybe this attitude has begun to change a little."

Another case earlier this year, wherein a woman who broke her spine in a similar accident won 15,000 euros in damages, proved to be a precedent in holding the city responsible.

While all new buses are equipped with video cameras, both providing drivers live viewing and recording activity for later viewing, those constitute only 30 percent of all buses. None of the trolleys or trams have cameras.


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