Chicago Transit Authority Accidents
CTA buses are a common sight on Chicago streets, and L trains go by so often that you don’t even notice them. Not surprisingly, the CTA is involved in a large number of accidents. According to a 2010 Chicago Tribune report, the CTA averages at least one accident per day.
CTA buses and trains are a special class of vehicles known as “common carriers.” Common carriers are entities that advertise themselves as publicly available services for conveying freight or passengers. CTA buses, trains, limos, planes, and even elevators are considered common carriers. This classification is important because it has implications for the CTA’s “standard of care.”
Common Carrier Standard of Care
The standard of care is a legal term that articulates the level of care a person or entity has a duty to use to ensure that they do not harm other people. Ordinarily, traffic accident cases are judged under the reasonableness standard. Was the defendant exercising the degree of care an ordinary person would do in the same situation? If not, they are driving negligently. Common carriers must do more than just exercise ordinary care.
Common carriers occupy a special legal status, and that status comes with an increased responsibility to protect passengers. Rather than exercising ordinary care, common carriers must exercise “the highest degree of care consistent with the type of vehicle used in the practical operation of its business.” This duty even extends to protecting passengers from injuries done by other parties. For example, in cases where the CTA should anticipate violence between passengers, it has a duty to protect passengers from each other. However, the common carrier standard does not always apply, so it is important to understand when the CTA has this heightened duty.
When Does the Common Carrier Standard Apply?
The common carrier standard only applies to passengers on the CTA. While this heightened standard of care does not apply to non-passengers, the CTA still has a duty to exercise reasonable care with regard to bystanders like pedestrians and other drivers. Of course, this raises the question of– who qualifies as a passenger?
An individual is considered a “passenger” not only while riding a CTA vehicle, but also when one is entering and exiting the vehicle. The common carrier’s duty to exercise a heightened duty of care begins when the passenger starts boarding the vehicle, such as when they are waiting to get on the train. It continues until the passenger gets off the vehicle and has a reasonable amount of time to get to an area of safety. Consequently, a person who gets off a CTA bus only to be struck by it moments later may still qualify as a passenger for legal purposes.
CTA accidents have a one year statute of limitations. There are also a number of technical notice requirements that must be met in order to make a claim against the CTA. If you or a loved one has been injured in a CTA accident, contact a Chicago transit accident attorney at Woodruff Johnson & Evans today.