Mass Transit Injuries
As with any major city, Chicago has a robust mass transit system. People have the option to use buses, the ‘El,’ the Metra, or Amtrak. However, despite the convenience these systems afford, riders should also be aware of the possibility of mass transit accidents. In fact, the Chicago Tribune reported that the CTA averages one bus crash every single day. Given the dangers inherent in these sorts of mass transit systems, people who use them should be aware of their rights if they suffer an injury.
Mass transit systems like railroads and buses qualify as a special type of transportation known as common carriers. Common carriers are held to an especially high standard of care. Ordinarily, people must use a “reasonable” degree of care not to injure each other. A common carrier must take “the highest degree of care” not to injure its passengers.
What Common Carriers Are
Common carrier is a specific legal designation for a company that transports goods or people. What makes common carriers special is that they often operate under intense regulatory control, and many times they have a monopoly or near monopoly on the market. Examples of things that are considered common carriers under Illinois law include buses, trains, airplanes, limousines, and taxicabs. There are also other, more unusual examples, like amusement parks and elevators. One of the most important things about common carriers is the fact that they are required to use extra care for the safety of their passengers.
Common Carrier Liability
Common carrier liability is unique because of their heightened duty of care. The duty of care is the legal standard for how careful a person must be not to harm another. The ordinary duty of care is a “reasonable” amount of care. This means that drivers on the road have to take reasonable precautions not to injure each other. Common carriers are held to a higher standard. They must use the highest degree of care that would be practical for them to operate a business.
However, this heightened duty does not apply to everyone. Common carriers only owe this heightened duty of care to their passengers, which Illinois law defines as people boarding, riding, and disembarking from the carrier. Essentially, the carrier’s duty to the person starts while they are waiting in line to get on and finishes once they have gotten a safe distance away from the vehicle.
Of course, this does not mean that people who were not passengers have no options. A pedestrian struck by a city bus may still sue the city for their injuries. The only difference is that he or she would have to sue the bus under the ordinary “reasonable care” standard; they would not get the benefit of the higher standard of care.
Mass transit injuries can be severe. If you have recently been injured while riding on public transit, contact a Chicago personal injury lawyer today. The lawyers at Woodruff Johnson & Evans are here to help you get the full, fair compensation that you deserve.