Dangers On Public Transportation
As you pull into the O’Hare Blue line station, the train gradually slows down and you begin reaching for your luggage. You’re about to begin a well-deserved vacation. Just as you’re getting up from your seat, you hear a loud boom and you’re jolted to the floor. Lights go out. You hear breaking glass and bending steel. You’re frightened. You look to see if you’re still in one-piece.
This true story happened on March 24th of this year when a Chicago CTA driver fell asleep while at the wheel. Hitting the safety bumper at 26 miles per hour resulted in a crash that caused $9.1 Million of damages.
While this is an extreme case, injuries happen often on public transportation. According to the NTSB 2012 Bus Safety fact sheet, 250 people died and 20,000 people were injured in bus related accidents in 2009 alone.
Human errors, equipment failures, improper maintenance, and substandard practices cause transit delays every day. Sometimes these errors can be deadly. Take the train accident in Madison, Illinois that happened on February 28, 2012. Two Union Pacific employees were doing routine maintenance at the Bissell station. A train carrying 20 passengers did not receive the correct signal and slammed into a Pontiac Grand Prix crossing at the intersection – killing the driver instantly. The NTSB reported that a technician “disabled the highway rail grade crossing warning system at the crossing.” This terrible tragedy could have been avoided if proper procedures were followed.
How do critical safety practices go ignored? Why is your safety not a primary concern? How do you protect yourself from potentially deadly and life-changing errors by those responsible for public transportation?
How To Protect Yourself.
Here are a few things you can do to be safer when using public transportation:
First, avoid overcrowded vehicles. Most public transportation has a regular schedule. Especially when riding during rush hour, wait and take the next one or go to the next car if you cannot safely enter and fit in.
It is not worth the risk of getting hurt while squeezing-in, getting entangled, or falling into other riders as the vehicle starts, stops, and turns. It’s just a very unsafe atmosphere.
Second, firmly steady yourself. Most buses and trains do not have enough space for everyone to sit down. If you are not sitting down, do your best to find a strap or pole to hold on to.
Third, speak-up. If you feel unsafe during your travels, tell the conductor. While you may get a ‘canned’ response, if you are not satisfied, ask for his name and how to report your concerns. The CTA holds regular meetings with passengers. You can express your issues and find out what they are doing to ensure your safety. CTA leaders and managers pay attention to public concerns — that is how they keep their jobs.
What Are Your Rights?
No matter how much you do to protect yourself, there is always the possibility that something can go wrong. In these cases, you need to know your rights as a passenger.
For example, if you fall and injure yourself while the bus or train is in motion, you can ask for compensation for the damages. While most falls on a bus or train are not serious, some can be. If your fall is due to poor driving or other human errors you may deserve compensation.
A subset of law exists called common carrier law to protect citizens against accidents and negligent acts by public transportation companies. If you are injured while on public transportation, you can file a common carrier claim against the public entities or private operating companies.
One thing to remember is that most public transportation today is constantly monitored via video. Therefore, a recording is frequently available for legal purposes. If you were the victim of the negligence of the driver or carrier, recordings may be helpful in supporting your claim.
Help is Available
As an experienced Chicago personal injury attorney, I feel it is my personal responsibility to fight for those who are victims of the negligent actions of others. Injuries on public transportation can be extreme and life-changing. Yet, with so many different scenarios involving public transportation injuries, we need to remember that every case is different.
The Attorneys at Friend, Levinson, and Turner Law are knowledgeable and expert in representing those injured while using public transportation. If you or a loved one is injured on public transportation, please call my office or email.
The key to our success is the time we take to get to know our clients as individuals. We establish a personal relationship to understand every detail of their case and the impact it has had on their family.
The attorneys at Friend, Levinson & Turner Law make the legal process as stress-free as possible. We focus on recovering compensation for you – while you concentrate on your physical and emotional recovery.
If you or a loved one is injured or a victim of the negligence of others, please call my office at 312-346-8465 or contact us using the form below.