By Sarina Trangle
An 84-year-old woman who was struck by a city bus in Forest Hills and lost a foot has served notice that she plans to file a $10 million lawsuit against the bus driver and the city.
Gertrude Schnabel, of Woodhaven, took pride in her independence prior to Jan. 15, when a Q64 bus hit her as she crossed Queens Boulevard near East 108th Street, according to her attorney, Henry Davoli.
The rear wheels hit her legs, leaving Schnabel fighting for mobility in her sunset years.
“It’s wonderful she’s alive,” Davoli said. “I doubt she’ll be able to live on her own after this, but that’s what she wants …. you just hope that the woman gets compensated for what she’s going through so she can attempt to live her life in some form of dignity rather than being thrown in the corner of some nursing home.”
Schnabel, a retired administrative worker in the garment industry, will remain at Bellevue Hospital Center for a while, he said.
Doctors amputated her left ankle, performed a skin graft on the limb and will probe have to remove the leg below the knee, Davoli said. It is unclear whether she has the muscular tone needed to support a prosthetic limb.
The attorney said Schnabel’s right ankle was crushed and will require surgery. He said doctors would likely then explore whether freezing the foot would permit her to put weight on it.
The notice and 30-day demand for adjustment of claim notes that Schnabel also suffered injuries to her neck, back, shoulders, knees, elbows and head in addition to post-concussion syndrome and post-traumatic stress.
“She was living in a modest home in Woodhaven on Social Security,” Davoli said, noting that the cost of her medical care has exhausted the $50,000 covered by the MTA Bus Company’s personal injury policy. “We’re strictly into Medicare. She has AARP. All that will kick in, but it doesn’t pay very well and the hospitals kind of frown at you when you have it.”
The claim, filed Jan. 22, names the driver, the city, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority and the MTA Bus Co., a subsidiary of the MTA.
The MTA declined to comment.
Davoli faults the driver for failing to yield to Schnabel as she stepped onto the crosswalk. The claim blames the bus company for operating the bus in a manner that endangered pedestrians. It alleges that the MTA improperly delegated authority to the MTA Bus Co., which lacked the training and experience required to operate the route, and created a bus stop that drew more pedestrians to an already perilous area.
The MTA Bus Co. was created in 2004 to assume the operations of seven bus companies with franchises issued by the city Department of Transportation.
Davoli said the claim seeks $10 million because attorneys cannot raise compensation requests later in lawsuits and he has not yet had a health care analyst estimate how much Schnabel’s continuing medical care will cost.
The claim also seeks reimbursement for pain, suffering, long-term rehab and assisted living or nursing home expenses.
Police said they were still investigating the crash and had not determined whether Schnabel and the driver were abiding by traffic signals and laws.
Reach reporter Sarina Trangle at 718-260-4546 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.