Common Carrier Liability in Chicago Car Accidents | Staver
Car Accidents

Common Carrier Liability in Car Accidents

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Were you injured in a passenger bus or taxi? Or was the at-fault driver a bus, taxi, or another business vehicle? When a business or government agency is involved in a car crash, call Staver Accident Injury Lawyers, P.C., to talk with an experienced car accident lawyer. Your case might involve a common carrier, which impacts your claim. We understand common carrier liability and will fight for you to receive compensation. We aren’t afraid to go up against a major business or branch of the government to win the compensation you deserve.

To learn more about common carriers involved in car crashes, call (312) 236-2900 or use our online form to request a free initial consultation.

What is a Common Carrier?

Common carriers are businesses that transport people or goods in exchange for money. This category includes cruise ships, commercial airplanes, commuter and passenger trains, buses, and taxis. If you take Metra to and from Downtown Chicago for work, Metra is a common carrier. If you fly home for the holidays, the major airline is a common carrier. If you pass a UPS semi-truck on I-90, UPS is a common carrier.

When Do Car Accidents Involve a Common Carrier?

If you are in a car accident with a vehicle owned and operated by a business, then your claim probably involves a common carrier.

Common carrier car accidents might involve:

Why Does it Matter if a Vehicle is a Common Carrier?

Common carriers are controlled differently than personal trucks, cars, boats, and other vehicles. These businesses are regulated by a federal authority: Airlines are regulated by the Federal Aviation Administration, commercial trucks are regulated by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, and so on. The people who own and operate these vehicles have many rules and regulations to follow and a high standard of care to uphold toward their passengers.

If you’re in an accident with a vehicle operated by a common carrier, then how you investigate the business’s negligence differs from how you’d investigate an individual driver. Your personal injury lawyer is going to look into whether the owner or operator violated any federal or state regulations or violated their high standard of care.

Common Carrier Liability in Illinois

The Illinois Supreme Court decided in the 1950s that common carriers owed a duty to exercise the highest degree of care consistent with practical operations of its vehicles to protect the safety of its passengers. This standard means common carriers are held to a higher standard than personal drivers when passenger’s lives are at stake.

Common carriers also have duties to:

  • Protect passengers from injury from third persons, which they knew or should have known to anticipate.
  • Protect passengers from other passengers, which they knew or should have anticipated from the facts and circumstances.
  • Protect passengers from assault, abuse, or other intentional harm by employees.
  • Provide additional care to passengers that the carrier knows to be children, disabled, or infirm.

Passengers vs. Other Parties in Common Carrier Accidents

A common carrier’s high duty of care is toward its passengers. If you were a paying or ticketed passenger, then talk with a lawyer. That company owed you the highest amount of care and diligence in keeping you safe. If you were injured in a car crash with a common carrier, but you weren’t a passenger, then the business owed you an ordinary duty of care.

When Is a Common Carrier Liable for a Car Accident?

Common carriers are liable for car accidents caused by their on-duty employees. These businesses might not be responsible for collisions caused by independent contractors—this is why Lyft and Uber are not legally liable for most crashes, even if they offer substantial insurance policies. Businesses also aren’t responsible for crashes their employees cause in their personal time.

After getting hurt in a car crash when you weren’t a passenger of the common carrier, identify if the other driver was in a business vehicle. This might be obvious if it’s a marked truck, van, or car. You have to determine whether that driver was an employee or an independent contractor. Then, you need to find out whether they were on the clock at the time of the crash. It’s often useful to work with an attorney who will investigate these issues right away.

Demanding Compensation from a Common Carrier

You can file a personal injury lawsuit against a common carrier if the business or an employee of that business caused the wreck. This includes whether you were in the vehicle owned by the common carrier or another vehicle. The difference will be in the duty of care the common carrier owed you. But you have the opportunity to prove negligence either way.

To win compensation, you have to prove four elements:

  • The common carrier owed you a duty of care: Common carriers are required to exercise the utmost care and diligence toward their passengers and an ordinary duty of care toward others.
  • The common carrier breached their duty of care: The business or an employee of the business didn’t act with care and diligence they should have.
  • The breach of duty was the proximate cause of your injuries: The car accident and your injuries were a foreseeable result of the common carrier’s conduct.
  • You suffered damages: You sustained financial, physical, and emotional injuries because of the car crash.

Don’t Agree to a Settlement Right Away

Common carriers tend to be large businesses with sizeable insurance policies. Even though they can afford to pay out a lot for a car accident, they won’t want to. Common carriers and their insurers often try to get accident victims to accept a quick settlement offer knowing that once you accept, you can’t demand more.

Don’t accept an initial settlement offer from a common carrier without talking to a lawyer. Your case might be worth more than you realize. You might not be fully recovered from your injuries yet, which means you don’t know what your current or future medical bills will add up to. You might not have the evidence to show how egregious the common carrier’s conduct was. Work with an attorney to gather the facts and calculate the value of your claim before considering a settlement.

Talk with a Chicago Car Accident Lawyer About Common Carrier Liability

If you got hurt or lost a loved one in a car crash involving a common carrier, we highly recommend you talk with an experienced personal injury attorney. At Staver Accident Injury Lawyers, P.C., we understand common carrier liability rules in Illinois and how to investigate common carriers for negligence. We’ll build you a strong claim for compensation.

Send us your information through our online form or call (312) 236-2900 to set up your free, no-risk consultation.

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(312) 236-2900
(312) 236-2900
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