A Cook County jury recently awarded nearly $7.9 million to a woman who suffered disabling injuries in a CTA bus crash. The woman’s husband was also awarded an additional $100,000.00 in a separate loss of consortium claim.
CTA Bus Crash Against Red Light
On July 18, 2009, Miriam Bragar, a DuPage County resident, was driving south on Kedzie Avenue, approaching its intersection with Grand Avenue in Chicago’s Humboldt Park neighborhood. According to witnesses and video, Mrs. Bragar then entered the intersection on a green traffic light.
At the same time, Anthony Miller was operating a CTA bus west on Grand Avenue, approaching the same intersection. Mr. Miller sped up into the intersection on a red light, and he collided with Mrs. Bragar’s vehicle.
As a result of the CTA bus crash, Mrs. Bragar suffered disabling injuries, including broken bones in her arms, legs, ribs, and pelvis, eye damage, a ruptured spleen, and traumatic brain injury. According to her attorneys, Mrs. Bragar accumulated more than $400,000.00 in medical bills. She can no longer work and must be under constant supervision.
In 2017, Mrs. Bragar filed for a disability determination in DuPage County. The judge in that matter ruled that she was a disabled adult.
2 ½-Week Trial
Mrs. Bragar’s attorneys first filed a lawsuit in Cook County in 2009, with the CTA and Anthony Miller named as defendants. The case was set for trial in October 2015, but it was delayed because of the serious illness of an expert witness and a death in Mrs. Bragar’s family. Her case was refiled in December 2015.
In a 2018 jury trial that lasted nearly 2 ½ weeks, the defense argued that Mrs. Bragar was at least 51 percent at fault for the CTA bus crash. Mrs. Bragar’s attorneys argued that her liability was closer to 5 to 10 percent, not 51 percent as the defense claimed.
Following deliberation, the jury awarded Mrs. Bragar more than $9.8 million for her injuries, though that amount was decreased to nearly $7.9 million when fault was determined.
Additionally, Mrs. Bragar’s husband was awarded $100,000.00 for loss of consortium, a claim for damages suffered by the spouse of a person who has been injured or killed as a result of a defendant’s negligent acts.
Public Transportation Litigation
Over 500 million public transportation rides are taken in Chicago each year. With that many trips being taken, however, the risk of injury is immense. Trains derail, buses crash, and commuters slip and fall in stations every day.
Because they are paid to transport the public, buses and trains are defined as “common carriers” under Illinois law. As common carriers, they are subject to a higher duty of care for the safety of their passengers, and their operators are therefore expected to be more cautious than regular drivers. Any failure to do so could be considered negligence, and those injured because of this negligence may have a claim against the company operating the carrier, such as the CTA.
However, recovering damages in a public transportation accident is not a simple matter. There are many potential causes, including faulty traffic and train signals, distracted, negligent, or inexperienced drivers, improperly-maintained tracks, mechanical failure, or overloaded trains and buses. Sometimes another driver might be at fault instead of the public transportation operator, meaning that that driver’s insurance is the one that must be pursued.
A personal injury lawyer with the necessary resources and experience in public transportation accidents can promptly initiate a detailed investigation to figure out exactly what happened. Only by determining the cause(s) of the accident can the responsible party or parties be properly identified. Depending upon the nature of the accident, an injured person may be able to pursue a claim against the company operating the vehicle, the company maintaining the tracks, if any, the manufacturer of the public transportation vehicle, the driver of another vehicle, or some combination of these. Identifying all the potentially at-fault parties in a timely fashion is important because those who fail to bring their cases forward within the time frame specified by law may find themselves prevented from obtaining justice and compensation for their injuries.
Moreover, the time specified by law in which an injured party has to bring suit or resolve a claim – known as the “Statute of Limitations” – is shorter in cases involving public transportation systems, which are owned by cities, municipalities, or other government entities. In Illinois, the Statute of Limitations is one year for personal injury cases involving municipalities, as opposed to the two years that an injured party has in cases brought against private parties. Again, failure to bring suit or resolve a personal injury claim against a public transportation system within one year may result in an injured party being forever barred from doing so.
Chicago Personal Injury Lawyers
Because of the inherent difficulties involved in pursuing a personal injury claim, injured people may find that they could benefit from the guidance of an experienced lawyer to help them obtain the financial compensation that they deserve, like the Chicago personal injury lawyers at GWC Injury Lawyers, Illinois’ largest Personal Injury and Workers’ Compensation law firm.
If you have been wrongfully injured, in a CTA bus crash or in some other way, please contact GWC today to schedule a free consultation with one of our attorneys. Call our office at (312) 464-1234 or click here to chat with one of our representatives.