No one boards a CTA bus or train (the “L”) expecting an accident, but accidents involving the Chicago Transit Authority are more common than you might think. Here is what you need to know if you were injured on a CTA bus or train. These special rules also apply if you were in an accident with a CTA vehicle, such as your car being hit by one of their buses.
How Common are CTA accidents?
If you were hurt using the CTA or were in an accident with a CTA vehicle, you are not alone. Accidents are a fact of life and just like using a car, any form of transportation carries risk. While overall safe and convenient, the CTA and other public transportation companies are not immune from having accidents. Accidents that involve the ‘L’ (elevated train) can be particularly serious. Bus accidents are not uncommon and may also result in serious injuries. In 2015, the ABC-7 I-Team investigated the issue and found there to be one bus accident approximately every 36 hours involving the CTA. Due to the sheer size of busses and trains, it is not uncommon to suffer serious injuries when this happens. Common injuries in CTA accidents are broken bones, concussions, back problems, disabilities and even death. Fortunately, many people are also lucky enough to walk away with soft-tissue type injuries like whiplash or sprains.
Does the CTA have to compensate me after an accident involving the bus or “the L” Train?
The fact that you were hurt while using the CTA or with a CTA vehicle does not automatically mean that the CTA is responsible for your injuries. The CTA has an obligation to keep all of its passengers and the general public safe from harm, but negligence or wrongdoing still has to be proven. Do you have a sense of what went wrong? Did the bus driver fail to follow the rules of the road? Was the driver using a cell phone at the time of the accident? The CTA has a zero tolerance policy for cell phone use while on the job, but some drivers or operators still get caught texting or talking on the phone when they are not supposed to. Chances are that you might not know exactly what happened, especially if you were a passenger, but these are all questions that will need to be answered following the accident.
Cases against the CTA have added layers of complexity over a car v. car accident in that driver error, fatigue or carelessness may not be the only factor to consider, especially if you were hurt while riding the L. The accident may have been caused by other employees such as the engineers, line workers, maintenance personnel. Accidents could also have been the result of faulty mechanical equipment. Cases against any transportation company should be very carefully investigated and aggressively pursued.
If the CTA or another public transportation company (airport shuttle, Metra, RTA, Pace, etc) was at fault for your injury or the death of a loved one, you have the right to be compensated in some way and also have the right to sue. You may be entitled to recover for:
- Ambulance and Emergency Room Costs
- Hospital Bills
- Doctor Bills
- Physical Therapy
- Medication, including prescriptions
- Medical Devices, such as crutches or slings
- Future Medical Bills
- Pain, Suffering, Emotional Injury
- Difficulties in your everyday life following the accident
- Time lost from work
- Damage to your property
- Wrongful death compensation applies when the incident results in death
What to do Following an accident with the CTA
As in any accident, your first priority needs to be your own safety and seeking medical attention if you were hurt. If you are still on the scene, stay calm and follow any safety instructions that you are being given. Take notice of your surroundings and everything that is happening. Take photographs as these may be helpful if you need to pursue a claim later. Be sure to save your CTA train pass, ticket or receipt.
If you suspect you were hurt or notice anything that may be ‘off’ about your physical condition, do not delay getting checked out by a doctor. Be sure to let the doctor know what happened and everything that you are feeling so that you can receive the correct course of treatment for your injury or injuries, and so that it can all be properly documented as this might be important later.
How long do I have to file a lawsuit or claim against the CTA?
Do not wait to talk to an attorney. Legal time frames, called Statutes of Limitations, are different when dealing with the CTA. They may also be different when dealing with other public transportation companies. Unlike most car accidents, if you end up needing to file a lawsuit against the CTA, you only have one year in which to do so. This is shorter than the two year statute that is typical of other kinds of personal injury cases. Wait too long and you will be out of luck, regardless of what happened or how bad the injury.
Should I talk to CTA employees if they call me after an Accident?
You will probably be contacted by CTA employees right after the accident. If they call you, it is very important to remember that their priority is in protecting the company’s reputation, not in helping you. This includes protecting the city’s financial interests when it comes time to pay settlements. You must be prepared and speak to your own lawyer before being ‘handled’ by the transportation company. You may be told that they want to settle with you quickly, so that you can be compensated, but a fast settlement is probably not in your best interest. Cases against the CTA are aggressively defended, but this should not scare you off. Contact an attorney to protect your interests. Do this before you negotiate with, or even talk to, the transportation company or their representatives. This is especially true if they wish to have you sign anything or take your statement.
Call us at 630 250-8813 or fill out a webform if you would like more information about how to proceed after an accident with the CTA. Strategy sessions and consultations are complimentary and as with other injury cases, you only have to pay at the end of the case if we are able to recover for you.