14 Feb, 2023

CTA Crash Raises Questions About Who to Sue for a Bus Accident

Author Todd A. Strong

If you get injured in a CTA bus accident, and the driver was responsible for the crash, then you may be able to sue him or her. To get compensation from the persons responsible for the crash, however, you must show that the driver breached his or her duty of care, the breach caused your injuries, and you suffered damages as a result of those injuries.

The bus flew off the road and crashed into a tree
The bus flew off the road and crashed into a tree

In many instances, however, motor vehicle accident victims don't know what to do next or how to get compensation for their pain and suffering. A personal injury attorney may help them understand their rights for pursuing damages through an insurance claim or legal action. 

Recent CTA Crash Highlights Public Transit Dangers

Four passengers on a Chicago Transit Authority bus were injured recently in a collision. The wreck draws attention to the dangers of public transit, and the issues victims may face in recovering damages for their accident-associated losses. 

The CTA bus was heading north when the driver of another car lost control and slammed into the side of the bus. It crashed into a nearby building, catching fire.

The injuries sustained by the victims were not life-threatening, but they were severe. Rescuers took all four victims to nearby hospitals to treat their injuries. In addition to their pain and suffering, they may have also incurred undue medical bills and lost income while off work recovering.

The crash raises questions about who should be held liable for such accidents, and how much compensation they should receive if they're found liable. 

Did the car’s driver cause the accident by losing control of his or her own vehicle? What caused the driver to lose control of the vehicle, and was it liable for the collision? Should or could the bus driver have taken action to avoid the crash?

Who to Sue for a Bus Accident

In the event of a bus accident, several parties might be held liable for your injuries. The bus driver and mechanic are some examples. Additionally, other drivers and motorists involved in the collision may also be liable to pay damages to you if they caused or contributed to your injuries in any way.

The Driver

Many factors can contribute to a bus accident. When the cause is due to the actions of the bus driver, he or she may be held financially responsible. For example, a bus driver may have failed to see another in time, or he or she may have driven recklessly.

Drivers should always be aware of their surroundings, and avoid distractions like texting or talking on the phone. For their own safety, that of their passengers, and that of the others with whom they share the road, bus drivers are responsible for maintaining control of their vehicles and avoiding distractions when behind the wheel.

The Bus Company

The company that owns and operates the bus may also be liable in some cases. You can sue the bus company if:

  • They didn't perform proper due diligence when hiring a driver
  • They didn't provide proper driver training
  • They failed to adequately maintain their vehicles for safety
  • These and other causes that they are to blame for led to a crash that caused your injuries

Other Drivers and Motorists

If another driver acted in a way that made your bus driver lose control and crash, they are the person to target with your car accident lawsuit. In some accidents, there are multiple responsible parties, such as another car hitting yours from behind or hitting another vehicle that, in turn, hits your bus and causes it to crash.

The Bus Mechanic

Mechanics must properly repair and inspect vehicles for safety and performance. If a mechanic recently checked a bus and failed to identify issues, and these led to a crash, you can sue them.

Mechanical problems, such as faulty brakes and steering systems, can cause bus accidents, severe injuries, or even death. If a mechanic fails to perform his or her duties and his or her actions lead to a crash, you may be able to sue him or her.

How to File a Bus Injury Claim in Illinois

There are several steps to take before filing your claim if you're a victim in an accident that involves a bus.

First, determine whether it was a private or government-owned vehicle. If it's a private bus, you can sue the driver and entity that owns the vehicle within two years of your injury.

If it was a government-owned bus, such as one operated by Chicago Transit Authority, file a claim notice with the attorney general within one year after your accident. Then, file a lawsuit with the claims court within a year after the accident.

Notice of Claim

To file a notice of claim, you must provide the following information:

  • Your (the victim's) name and address. This should be in the first paragraph.
  • The date and place of accident, including a street address if possible. It should also include other details about where it happened.
  • A description of what happened in the accident. This should be concise, but detailed enough so that someone would understand what happened without asking questions.
  • The name of attending doctor. List the doctor's name here, along with respective addresses, where possible.

Understanding Bus Driver Negligence Laws and Liability

In Illinois, the standard of care in negligence cases is determined by what a reasonable person would have done under similar circumstances.

If you can prove that the bus operator was negligent, or that he or she violated his or her standard of care, it is possible to get compensation for damages.

Judges and lawyers may often consider if there are any factors beyond a driver's control to determine who carries liability in a bus accident case. Factors that could be out of a driver's control include poor weather and road conditions.

In some situations, multiple parties may be at fault for causing the accident. Such cases include when another car rear-ends your bus. In these cases, it may be ideal for all parties to agree on a settlement.

Different Types of Bus Driver Negligence

Negligence refers to the failure to act safely. The simple definition of negligence is the failure to exercise ordinary care. Here are some examples of bus driver negligence:

  • Intoxication
  • Fatigue (sleep deprivation)
  • Distraction (texting, talking on the phone, watching videos)

These are just some things that can lead to a bus crash.

Drunk driving

Drunk driving is a serious offense. In Illinois and across the US, drunk drivers may be liable for fines, penalties, and even jail time. When drunk drivers get behind the wheel, they are more likely to experience an accident than sober ones.

If you have been injured in a bus accident caused by a drunk driver, you may be able to recover compensation through a personal injury claim.

Fatigue

Bus drivers should take breaks during the long shifts. If you get injured in a bus accident caused by fatigue, you can sue the bus company or driver. The driver and the operating company should adhere to policies and procedures for fatigue management. Bus companies should also not force drivers to work long hours, especially when they exceed reasonable standards.

Drug Use

Drugs can reduce a driver's alertness and ability to drive safely. Drugs impair a driver's concentration and reaction time. If the driver was high, you could sue him or her for the damages caused.

Distraction

Distracted driving is a major cause of bus accidents. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, about 3,142 people died in 2020 due to distracted driving.  Distractions are activities or behaviors that make drivers less attentive to the road, or remove their eyes from the road or hands from the steering wheel. The source of distraction could be cell phones, electronic devices, or passengers. Drivers must always stay focused when driving, and use their hands and eyes to help ensure they maintain control of their vehicles. 

Reckless Driving 

Reckless driving, by drivers of other vehicles or bus operators, commonly contributes to crashes. Reckless driving involves any action by a driver that shows disregard for safety and others on the road. Driving recklessly can include speeding or tailgating other vehicles. It can also mean failing to follow traffic laws or signs behind the wheel. If a driver causes an accident while committing another crime (such as drunk driving), he or she could face charges for both crimes.

How to Prove Negligence and Who to Sue

If you were struck by a bus while crossing the street, the bus driver might be liable for your injuries because he or she was driving the vehicle without reasonable care.

If you are injured due to someone else's negligence, you may be able to recover compensation for your injuries. To prove negligence in a bus accident case, you must show the following:

  • That there was an affirmative act or omission by the defendant that caused injury or damage; and
  • That this action or omission caused your injuries or damages; and
  • Your injuries would not have otherwise occurred if it weren't for this affirmative action or omission of the defendant.

If the Accident Was Caused by Another Driver or Motorist

If another driver or motorist caused the accident, you must prove that the other driver owed you a duty of safety as a passenger. All road users owe others a duty of care, and if they breach this duty, it can be argued that they are liable for any injuries suffered due to their actions.

One example is when someone has driven through red lights, resulting in an accident with another vehicle which then hits your bus, causing injury to its occupants, including yourself as a passenger. In this scenario, it would be necessary to show how this duty was breached (using evidence from witnesses) and how the driver's actions caused your injuries (using medical reports).

If the CTA Bus Driver Caused the Accident

If you get injured in a CTA bus accident, and the driver was responsible for the crash, then you may be able to sue him or her. To get compensation from the persons responsible for the crash, however, you must show that the driver breached his or her duty of care, the breach caused your injuries, and you suffered damages as a result of those injuries.

Suing the Owner or Company

In some cases, the bus owner may be liable for your injuries if it is determined that the driver acted on the company's behalf and not as an individual employee.

For example, an employee works for a company that provides school buses for public transportation, and he or she is driving one at the time of the accident. The company itself could be liable for damages stemming from your injuries. This is because the driver acted as a carrier during your injuries, rather than just a private citizen using his or her vehicle for personal use.

If you're unsure who was at fault for your injuries, or if more than one person could be responsible, an experienced personal injury attorney can help. Our lawyers can determine exactly what happened, so they can file suit against all parties who may have been responsible for causing harm on any level.

Damages to Expect for CTA Crash Victims

If you are injured in a CTA bus accident, you can expect to receive compensation for your economic and non-economic losses.

Some of the most common losses covered by damages in personal injury claims include the following:

  • Medical bills
  • Lost wages
  • Pain and suffering
  • Mental anguish

The compensation awarded will depend on varying factors, including the severity of your injuries, your medical and other care needs as a result of your injuries, and how your condition has and will impact your ability to work and earn income.

Do I Need a CTA Bus Crash Attorney to Sue?

It can be challenging to determine who to sue for a CTA bus crash. Various factors come into play when determining liability after an accident on CTA buses or trains. Getting a lawyer after an auto accident involving a bus can help. Working with Chicago personal injury lawyers may help you understand your rights and options to recover compensation for your injury-associated losses, as well as who to sue for a bus accident.

About The Author

Photo of Todd A. Strong
Illinois workers’ compensation and personal injury lawyer Todd A. Strong is the founder of Strong Law Offices in Peoria, Illinois. Todd brings considerable legal knowledge, experience, and skill to the table to ensure injured victims throughout the state are treated with respect, dignity, and fairness.