A Cook County jury has awarded $6.654 million to a woman who was injured in a CTA train crash at O’Hare International Airport in 2014.
On March 24, 2014, Yolanda Montes, a Transportation Safety Administration (TSA) security officer, was a passenger on a Blue Line train pulling into O’Hare International Airport. She was about to exit the train when it crashed through a barrier and landed on top of an escalator. Her head struck a pole that she was holding, causing a concussion and aggravating pre-existing neck and back conditions that required surgeries. Ms. Montes is no longer able to do the motions required of a TSA security officer and now works as an administrative assistant for the agency.
More than thirty people were injured in the incident, which the National Transportation Safety Board blamed on the train’s operator and the CTA’s failure to oversee her work schedule properly.
Ms. Montes’s verdict was the largest of all the legal cases brought against the CTA for the incident. The second-largest was for her fellow TSA employee Michael Moore, who received $4.1 million in April.
Public Transportation Accidents
Chicago has a vibrant public transportation system. Every day, millions of the city’s inhabitants rely on L trains, CTA buses, and the Metra to go to work, school, or anywhere else they need to be. In fact, over 500 million public transportation rides are taken in Chicago each year.
With that many trips being taken, however, the risk for injuries is immense. Trains derail, buses crash, and commuters slip and fall in stations every day.
Buses and trains are defined as “common carriers” under Illinois law. Because they are paid to transport the public, these common carriers are subject to a higher duty of care for the safety of their passengers, and they are therefore expected to be more cautious than regular drivers. Any failure to do so could be considered negligence, and people injured because of this negligence may have a claim against the company operating the carrier, such as the CTA, for example.
Public transportation accidents are complicated, however, and recovering these damages 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, you 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 people who fail to bring their cases forward within the time frame specified by law may find themselves forever barred from obtaining justice and compensation for their injuries.
Moreover, the time specified by law in which you have to bring suit or resolve your 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 the state of Illinois, the Statute of Limitations is one year for personal injury cases involving municipalities, as opposed to the two years that you have in cases against private parties. Again, failure to bring suit or resolve your personal injury claim against a public transportation system within one year will result in your being forever barred from doing so.
If you or a loved one have been involved in an accident on public transportation, the public transportation accident attorneys at GWC Injury Lawyers are an excellent choice for legal representation because they have decades of experience bringing justice in cases exactly like this.
GWC prosecutes a wide variety of injury cases throughout Illinois, including those involving public transportation accidents, auto collisions, workers’ compensation, construction accidents, medical malpractice, and product liability. If you or your loved one has been injured, from a public transportation accident or by some other means, please contact our office for a free legal consultation to see if you may be eligible for financial compensation for your injuries.