Tourist Sues Ketchikan Borough After Mobility Scooter Accident

By Ivan PetrenkoMay 19, 2024 23:30 PMNews
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A men on a mobility scooter and a woman with a cane
Mobility scooter accident sparks lawsuit. Source: unsplash

A 91-year-old cruise ship tourist is suing the Ketchikan Gateway Borough for negligence following an incident where his mobility scooter tipped over on a public bus. This case highlights the importance of safety measures for travelers, especially those with mobility issues.

The lawsuit was filed on May 8 in federal court in Alaska. Donald Gillingham, from Montana, was visiting Ketchikan with his wife during a September cruise when the accident occurred. Due to his limited mobility, Gillingham had rented a motorized scooter for the trip, emphasizing the need for accessible and safe travel options for elderly tourists.

According to the complaint, the scooter tipped over when the bus made a left turn, causing Gillingham to fall. At the time, he did not realize the severity of his injuries. It was only after returning to the cruise ship and being evaluated at Bartlett Regional Hospital in Juneau that Gillingham learned he had sustained three broken ribs and a punctured lung.

Ketchikan’s public buses are equipped with internal straps to secure mobility scooters, but the complaint alleges that the driver did not require Gillingham to use them, as they are not mandatory. This incident underscores the necessity for mandatory safety protocols to protect vulnerable passengers. Gillingham’s attorneys argue that the borough neglected its duty of care by failing to ensure the safe transportation of passengers with mobility devices.

Mark and Jon Choate, Gillingham’s attorneys, declined to comment on the case. Ketchikan Borough Manager Ruben Duran acknowledged being aware of the potential lawsuit but stated that he had not yet been officially notified.

The lawsuit includes accusations of negligence and loss of consortium. The latter charge is filed on behalf of Gillingham’s wife, Patricia Gillingham, and claims that the physical and emotional trauma her husband suffered has negatively impacted their marriage.

This case serves as a reminder for travelers to be aware of their safety and for transportation services to implement stringent safety measures to prevent such incidents.

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