When you are hit by a negligent driver on the highway, you are probably already aware that you can file a claim with the driver’s insurance company to help pay for the injuries you suffered. But what happens when you are seriously hurt in an accident while riding a bus or train operated by the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA)? Although some people believe that they have no rights after they are hurt on public transportation, the truth is that they may have substantial rights to hold the transportation service responsible and seek compensation for what happened.
What Passengers Can Expect After Being Injured in a CTA Accident
All the public transportation providers in Chicago have a duty to keep their passengers safe, and the CTA isn’t any different. Because the service is responsible for transporting hundreds of thousands of people around the city and its suburbs each day, it is held to very high standards. When a CTA driver makes a mistake or something goes wrong, it is a serious concern for both the victims of the accident and the entire transit-riding public.
In some cases, victims of CTA accidents do have rights and can pursue compensation for their injuries. However, it’s important to understand that these cases are rarely simple for the families and individuals who are harmed—and it’s too easy to lose those rights if you are uninformed. The CTA is going to have its own investigators and lawyers working on the case, and the driver of the other vehicle may also have investigators or lawyers working on the case. If you have been hurt, you can expect to be confronted with legal and financial issues almost immediately after the accidentally—even at a time when you’d prefer to just focus on your recovery.
Passengers May Be Contacted About Their Injuries
If you get hurt in an accident while riding on a public bus or train, it is fairly likely that you will be directly contacted about your injuries. You may even be approached at the scene of the accident or while you are still in the hospital for treatment. You might be contacted by any number of people, including:
- Representatives of the transportation service
- Adjusters from the insurance company
- Attorneys for the service
- The driver involved in the train or bus accident
- Other passengers on the train or bus during the accident
However, you need to be careful what you say or do before you understand your rights. Although many people may be contacting you about the injuries you sustained, they may not always have your best interests as a priority. You should answer the direct questions of police officers and first responders at the scene of the accident, but keep in mind that you are under no obligation to talk to other passengers, drivers, or investigators right now.
Liability for Injuries in a CTA Crash
Not every victim of an accident is automatically compensated for what happened. If there was nothing the CTA or its employees could have done to prevent the accident, then the victims can’t hold the service financially responsible. In order to legally recover compensation, victims must be able to prove that the CTA:
- Did something negligent that caused injuries
- Failed to do something that could have prevented victims’ injuries
However, there are many laws and safety regulations that apply to public transportation, and a lot of accidents happen because of a violation that may not be obvious to the public. Most people don’t have an in-depth understanding of transportation rules, which makes it very difficult for them to get answers about an accident. They may have no idea what happened or if negligence played a part, and they may not get all the answers they need from the insurance companies or CTA representatives they speak with. You deserve to know exactly why you were hurt and who is responsible for paying your damages. Unfortunately, most victims need to seek out their own legal help to figure out the truth and find out what their rights really are.
Potential Compensation Available for Victims of CTA Crashes
If you are able to hold another party responsible for the accident, you may be able to recover compensation for:
- Medical expenses
- Lost income
- Loss of the ability to work in the future
- Out-of-pocket costs
- Future needs related to your injury
- Pain and suffering
However, this compensation is never guaranteed. It is very difficult to succeed on your own, and it is recommended that you speak with an experienced lawyer who can handle your claim investigation and advocate for your full and fair recovery.
Avoiding Mistakes and Protecting Your Legal Rights
Whether the accident involved a bus, train, taxi, or other form of public transportation, drivers and transportation services have a lot to lose when something goes wrong. Although it’s not their goal to make victims’ lives difficult, they do have a job to do—and that job involves saving their employers money when an accident does happen. This is why you need to get help and get informed about your rights before you even start talking about your injuries.
Here are some tips for protecting yourself if you’ve been hurt in a bus or train accident:
- Don’t sign anything. Before you understand the full extent of your injuries and your rights to seek compensation for what happened, it is too easy to sign away your rights accidentally. If you are asked to sign documents or accept a payment for your injuries, wait until you can review the paperwork with your attorney.
- Don’t give a recorded statement. In most cases, you are not required to give a recorded statement to resolve your claim. Even if you must give a statement for some reason, you definitely can speak to your own attorney first so you know what to expect and how it might affect your case.
- Be careful what you say. You should tell the truth. You should not speculate or guess, but only talk about what you know for a fact. Anything that you say now can be twisted and used against you as you later attempt to negotiate your injury claim. You can trust your own lawyer, but you should not trust insurance agents or anyone working for the CTA to look out for your best interests. It is okay to say that you don’t know when asked about the circumstances of the accident—it was not your job to watch the road.
- Use social media wisely. After any kind of serious accident, you shouldn’t post anything about the accident or your injuries on social media. The insurance company will look at any profiles you have on social media sites, and it’s not unusual to see Facebook posts and photographs come up during the legal process. If in doubt, you might consider avoiding social media entirely until you can speak with an attorney.
- Find out about your potential rights. Speaking with an attorney who has experience with public transportation cases can be an eye-opening experience, and it’s worth taking advantage of a free case review to learn more about what you really need to do to get the compensation you deserve.
Make Sure You Are Represented
If you are already being contacted by other people’s attorneys about an accident, you deserve the same kind of advantage. It’s very important that you take the time to find an experienced attorney of your own. He or she can help you talk through your concerns, look for answers about what happened, and get a clear idea of how to move forward.
The attorneys with Lane & Lane have direct experience working with the victims of public transportation accidents, and we would be happy to talk with you about your rights in a completely free, no-obligation case review. To get started, contact our law office at or use the live chat service on this page to talk to someone right now.