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 personal injury 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.
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.
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:
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.
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:
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.
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.
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:
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.
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 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.
Here are some additional resources that may be of help.