Many Illinois residents rely on common carriers for every day, local transportation. A “common carrier” transports goods or people for any person or company. Examples of common carriers include, but are not limited to: public transportation systems, such as the CTA; disability services, such as PACE vehicles; ambulances; railroads; airlines; and taxi cabs. Common carriers have the highest duty of care when transporting passengers, meaning that they must ensure that their equipment is properly maintained and safely operated from the moment a passenger enters the carrier until the passenger safely exits. Nonetheless, passengers still sustain injuries due to common carrier negligence.
Those who regularly use public transportation—such as the CTA or Metra—likely know that they are not always the smoothest ride. In Browne v. Chicago Transit Authority, a passenger riding a CTA bus stood up from her seat and walked toward the door as the bus approached her stop. 19. Ill. App. 3d 914 (1st Dist. 1974). The bus driver made a sudden stop and the passenger fell to the floor, sustaining injuries. The court found that the evidence showed that the bus driver was not paying sufficient attention to the road and had no legitimate excuse for suddenly stopping the bus, which amounted to a violation of the high duty of care imposed on common carriers.
Sometimes, incidents involving common carriers can result in severe injuries. In Barton v. Chicago and North Western Transp. Co., a passenger boarded a Metra train to travel to the northern side of Chicago. 325 Ill. App. 3d 1005, (1st Dist. 2001). As she attempted to exit, a case she was carrying on her shoulder became stuck in a couple of poles, and the train doors closed on her. Her attempts to free herself were unsuccessful, and the train started moving forward. As the Metra train dragged her down the station platform, her legs wound up under the wheels of the train. One of her legs was mutilated, while the other was missing entirely. A jury found Metra liable to the passenger, and awarded the passenger a total of nearly $29 million in damages. Metra, as a common carrier, violated its high duty of care to the passenger because it did not ensure that mechanisms were in place to alert the conductor that the door had not fully closed.
These examples are not the only occasions where common carriers have caused an injury to a passenger. Perhaps one of the more recent and noteworthy instances of common carrier negligence is the United Airlines controversy, where a passenger was forcefully removed from an airplane before takeoff. If you were injured on a common carrier such as public transportation, a railroad, or a taxi, and you feel that the common carrier was responsible, you may be able to recover monetary damages from the carrier. Contact the attorneys at the Sherwood Law Group at 312-627-1650 for a free consultation, and let us get to work on securing the result that you deserve.