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Who is Liable for Accidents on Public Transportation?

Updated January 2022

Slip on the Metra? Hurt in an accident with a Pace Bus? While accidents on public transportation in Chicago and our metro area are not as common, they do happen.

Entities like the CTA, Metra, and Pace have a special duty to protect and keep passengers safe. When that duty is breached, the negligent party compensates the victim for damages.

Unfortunately, the size, power, and momentum of a train and bus sometimes result in catastrophic, even deadly accidents. Even jostling and falling inside a bus or train can lead to life-changing injuries.

But with so many different moving pieces involved, who is liable for when you get hurt while using public transportation?

What protections do I have?

Public transit is responsible for the Common Carrier Liability Act, no matter the situation.

Common Carrier’s in Chicago include the Chicago Transit Authority, Metra, Pace, and other public transportation forms.

The law states, “That whenever any property is received by a common carrier, to be transported from one place to another, within or without this state, it shall not be lawful for such carrier to limit his common-law liability.”

In layman’s terms, a victim can sue a carrier for injuries for not adhering to regulations or “failing to exercise the care and diligence that would be expected of a reasonably careful operator.”

On a bus or train, it doesn’t matter. The Common Carrier Liability Act protects you from injuries while using public transportation.

What technical legal standards protect me from public transit injuries?

Common carriers include the Chicago Transit Authority, Metra, and Pace. All of them are subject to a specific set of liability laws.

There are high standards regarding passenger safety on public transportation. This applies to equipment maintenance, platform facilities and shelters, hiring standards, training, and passenger management procedures.

Common carriers even have a responsibility to alert passengers to potential dangers and implement processes to minimize the threat. Failure to adhere to this duty is negligent.

What proof do I need for a common carrier lawsuit?

Strict liability is when a defendant is liable for committing an action regardless of intent. Strict liability does not apply to common carrier lawsuits, which means that the victim must prove public transit’s fault in the accident.

No matter what, you will have to prove the following four things:

  1. “Defendant owed plaintiff a duty (common carriers must exercise the utmost care and diligence with respect to their passengers).
  2. Defendant breached that duty (such as failing to remove ice from the wings of an airplane that later made an emergency landing, causing injuries).
  3. The breach was the proximate cause of the plaintiff’s injury (if not for the breach, the injury would not have occurred).
  4. The plaintiff suffered damages (usually physical injuries, but could also be emotional distress or loss of wages).”

What steps should I take if involved in a public transit accident?

After a public transportation accident, the first step is to reach out for medical assistance.

This call to 911 is for two reasons: the first is to get you medical help in the case of an injury. Even if you don’t have any immediate injuries, go to a medical facility and get checked out. All of those medical files are important to have on hand.

Second, you’re going to need to have a police report on file. Having that extra piece of documentation is hugely important for your case. Also, get the police officer’s name on the scene while filing their report.

To prove your case, you’ll need a bit more information. There are many potential evidence options for victims including, but not limited to expert testimony, eyewitness testimony, images, and inspection records.

Take some pictures, gather information. But no matter what, your first step should be to seek medical attention.

Being involved in a public transportation accident can be a complex and trying process, but you’re not alone.

Suppose you or a loved one sustains injuries in an accident on a common carrier in the Chicagoland area. In that case, you need an experienced personal injury attorney to ensure your rights are protected and you receive appropriate compensation.

Who is responsible?

Reasons for accidents on public transportation are usually cloudy and rarely straightforward. There are just a few examples of human error, equipment malfunction, improper maintenance, defective parts, engineer or driver impairment, and lack of training.

Insurance companies representing the CTA, Metra, and Pace attempt to get accident victims to agree to a financial settlement to avoid litigation quickly.

But, people need to understand that such offers usually fail to account for the whole lifetime of care required. Victims injured in an accident deserve compensation for medical bills, lost wages, emotional distress, and other damages.

They need a skilled personal injury attorney to protect their rights and properly navigate through the process. Experience counts.

Chicago Public Transit Accident Attorneys. We Help Victims.

The attorneys at Friend, Levinson & Turner are knowledgeable and expert in representing those who are victims of the negligence or carelessness of others. 

Insurance companies rely on professional adjusters to negotiate and fight accident claims. You need a skilled attorney to protect your rights to deal with these professionals.

As an attorney, every day, I am personally involved in fighting for those victims injured due to the recklessness and negligence of others.

We make the legal process as stress-free as possible. We focus on recovering compensation for you while focusing on your physical and emotional recovery.

If you or a loved one is injured or a victim of an auto accident, please call my office at 312-346-8465 or contact us using the form below.

author avatar
William Turner
William J. Turner

William Turner has represented hundreds of working men and women who have been victims of the negligence of others – gaining equitable compensation for the medical expenses and pain and suffering for his clients. He concentrates his practice in the trial of complex personal injury cases, including car and truck accidents, construction mishaps, medical malpractice, dog and animal attacks, nursing home abuse, and slip-and-falls. Additionally, he offers niche counsel and advocacy for workers who are injured on a job.

William has obtained judgements from juries in approximately 150 cases and has secured fair and comprehensive settlements in even more over his career. William Turner has dedicated his professional life to fighting for the rights of those who are injured as a result of the negligent acts of others.

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