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Public Transportation Accidents

In a city as big and busy as Chicago, many of the city’s inhabitants rely upon the public transportation system to get to work, school, the grocery store, church, doctor’s appointments, or any number of places people need or want to go. The Chicago Transit Authority reported more than 529 million rides taken on CTA buses and L trains in 2013.

With that many trips taken on public transit, the possibility for assorted types of injuries is staggering. Buses get into crashes just like any other vehicle, and there’s the possibility of a slip-and-fall on the bus or the train platform. If you’ve been injured while riding a bus or L train, you may be left wondering who will take care of you when medical bills are racking up and you can’t work because of your injuries.

Common Carriers

Buses and L trains, and other forms of mass transit, are known under Illinois law as “common carriers,” which means that they transport people or goods in exchange for money, and under license or authority from a government regulatory body. Because they receive money to offer their services to the public, common carriers are subject to a higher duty of care for the safety of passengers and the public. Common carriers are expected to exercise more caution and vigilance than an ordinary driver on Illinois streets or highways. When they fail to do so, that may be considered negligence. If the bus or train was involved in a collision through the negligence of the operator, then people who suffered injuries or property damage may have claims against the company or agency responsible for the carrier’s operation.

The rules and legal principles surrounding common carriers can be complicated. If you’ve been involved in an accident while a passenger on public transportation, or were injured by a public bus or train as a bystander, it’s probably best to talk to a personal injury attorney with experience handling claims involving public transit. When the bus or train involved is operated by a government agency, such as Chicago Transit Authority, there may be special rules involved in making a claim that can make it more challenging to obtain compensation. The help of an experienced lawyer can be invaluable under those circumstances.

Even when the bus is operated by a private company, for example a chartered bus, there can be complex legal issues involved. An attorney who has successfully negotiated or litigated claims against this type of transportation company will have an understanding of how these cases work and will be in a better position to help you get the best possible outcome.

Other Negligence in Public Transportation Accidents

It may be the case that you were injured while a passenger on a bus or train that was hit by another vehicle. When a driver other than the public transit operator is at fault, you may be able to make a claim against that driver’s insurance policy.

Recovering Damages

To succeed in a claim, you bear the burden of proving that you suffered damages that were caused by the negligence of another person or people. If you file a lawsuit, you must prove your case by a standard known as the preponderance of the evidence, or essentially that it is more likely than not that the person or people you’re suing were negligent and that their negligence caused you harm for which you should receive compensation.

Proving negligence can be challenging, and it’s recommended that you have representation by an experienced personal injury attorney. Your lawyer can help you investigate the accident or collision and gather all of the relevant evidence you’ll need to support your claim. Your attorney will negotiate on your behalf for an insurance settlement, or file a lawsuit and try the case in a courtroom if needed.

If your claim is successful, you may be able to recover compensation for:

  • Medical bills
  • Lost wages
  • Property damage
  • Pain and suffering
  • Emotional distress
  • Loss of normal life
  • Disability or disfigurement