CITY HALL — Santa Monica attorneys closed the books on a 2010 civil suit for $55,000 after an elderly woman fell and injured herself on a Big Blue Bus.
According to a lawsuit filed in February 2010, Aura Celis, of Arleta, Calif., allegedly fell on Big Blue Bus route 7 when the driver braked before she had found a seat.
The accident occurred on May 6, 2009.
Celis, then 60 and originally of Guatemala, boarded the bus between 2:30 p.m. and 3 p.m. She was returning home from work as a maid in a home in Santa Monica to Arleta, which is south of San Fernando.
The only seats available were in the middle of the crowded bus. Celis began walking toward the interior of the bus, holding onto the metal pole above her head.
“She testified that when the bus stopped, she was going to let go and continue walking,” said Santa Monica City Attorney Debbi Kanoff.
The bus came to a stop. Celis fell backward into the front of the bus, hit the coin box and landed on her right side. She hit her head on the way down. Celis testified that she temporarily lost consciousness.
Paramedics took Celis to Brotman Medical Center. She claimed that she had memory problems and was dizzy for three or four days after the accident. She also reported that her doctor told her she would need surgery on her right shoulder. She no longer wears high heels because of the pain in her knee.
Celis and her attorney, Daniel Dembicer, sued for $132,500 for medical expenses, lost wages and other damage. The case settled for $55,000.
Falls are particularly dangerous to the elderly, according to an article published by the American Academy of Family Physicians, a national medical organization which represents 97,600 family physicians.
According to the article, people over the age of 65 are 10 times more likely to be hospitalized and eight times more likely to die as a result of a fall than children.
Elderly can improve their safety by following a few simple recommendations, said Capt. Mark Bridges, the emergency medical services coordinator with the Santa Monica Fire Department.
First, wear flat shoes and avoid heels. Ask for help when moving on or between uneven surfaces, and ensure that your glasses prescription, if you have one, is current.
“Blurred vision can be unsafe, especially in unfamiliar areas,” Bridges wrote in an e-mail.
Make sure you know your route before leaving home, and have a list of medications and medical history with you in case of emergency, he said.
The Santa Monica Fire Department will hold an informational session at Wise and Healthy Aging on April 26 about fire and fall prevention.