Articles Posted in Train Accident

For individuals in Chicago, especially those who have suffered injuries in public transit scenarios, understanding the dynamics of premises liability is essential. Chicago train injuries attorneys often grapple with cases like Quiroz v. Chicago Transit Authority to safeguard their clients’ rights.

In a decision from the Illinois Supreme Court, nuances surrounding the duty of care in premises liability cases were made clear. This decision is particularly significant for people in urban areas that use public transportation.  It is also significant for Chicago personal injury attorneys, as it limits recovery for people who end up on the tracks, and provides an in-depth perspective on how courts handle ‘open and obvious risks’ and their implications on a landowner’s or public transit’s duty.

Quiroz v. Chicago Transit Authority, arose from a heart-wrenching incident where a person tragically lost their life in a train tunnel.  A couple of trains passed through the tunnel but noone notified dispatch to let them know that an unauthorized person was inside the tunnel.   Central to the case was the question: Did the CTA owe a duty of care to the decedent? And if so, was this duty negated by the ‘open and obvious’ nature of the risk?

Key Points of the Supreme Court’s Ruling:

Anchoring their decision on the Restatement (Second) of Torts § 337, the Illinois Supreme Court stated that if the risk is open and obvious, a landowner or public entity might be absolved of a duty of care because individuals are anticipated to spot and sidestep such open and obvious dangers.  The court’s decision hinged on the intricate requirements of section 337, which involved determining if the landowner (or in this case, CTA) believed that the individual would remain oblivious to the inherent dangers they faced.  The Court determined that a train represents an open and obvious danger, and therefore it was not foreseeable to the landlord that the decedent would not see the danger or appreciate its risk.  The Court determined that the CTA has no duty to the decedent.

Offering a different angle, the lower appellate court had formerly overruled the circuit court’s initial dismissal. Their justification was rooted in the premise that the CTA should have exercised due diligence, especially since the deceased was ostensibly visible to the train operators. The Supreme Court, however, found flaws in this rationale and reinstated the circuit court’s judgment. Continue reading

The Chicago personal injury attorneys of Zneimer & Zneimer have recently talked to a number of people injured on public transportation.  In 2021 there were 195,980,563 riders who used the Chicago Transit Authority System (“CTA”). In the month of October 2022 there were 23,576,296 riders who used the CTA rail /the CTA rail system for the 2022 year. As indicated by the numbers, public transit is a way that a significant number of people in use to get around the city of Chicago.  But with the huge number of riders that use the CTA, the odds of a passenger getting injured while riding is likely to occur. But who exactly is considered a passenger?

A contractual relationship between passenger and carrier begins when a passenger has presented himself at the proper place to be transported with the intention of becoming a passenger. Chicago & Eastern Illinois R.R. Co. vs Jennings, 190 Ill. 478, 484. A person becomes a passenger when, intending to take passage, enters a place provided for the reception of passengers, as a deport, waiting room, or the life, at a time when such a place is open for the reception of persons intending to take passage on the trains of the company. Id at 485. However, the mere fact of having a ticket or intending to take the train in not sufficient to be considered a passenger. Id at 486. The carrier then has to expressly or impliedly accept the passenger. Illinois Cent. R. Co. v. O’Keefe, 168 Ill. 115 (Ill. 1897)  Whether there is an acceptance by the carrier is judged largely by its own facts. Todd v. Louisville & N.R. Co., 274 Ill. 201, 207 (Ill. 1916)

According to the Illinois Pattern Jury Instructions, to be a passenger one must be in the act of boarding, be upon, or be in the act of alighting (departing) from the carrier’s vehicle. Illinois Pattern Jury Instructions – Civil No. 100.09. The plaintiff in the Illinois Appellate court case Pence, was not considered a passenger when he had purchased a Metra train ticket, parked his car in a Metra owned parking lot, and while crossing the street to the train station tripped on a bolt protruding from a railroad tie. Pence v. Northeast Illinois Regional Commuter R.R. Corp., 398 Ill. App. 3d 13 (2010). The Illinois Supreme court held in Katamay, to come within the definition of a passenger it is not necessary the person have come into actual contact with the train to be qualified as a passenger as long as that person had the intention to board the train, paid the fare, and made steps to that end. Katamay v. Chicago Transit Authority, 53 Ill. 2d 27, 29 (1972). In Katamay, while Continue reading

With one the largest, oldest, and most extensive public transit systems in the nation, concerns over safety are nothing new to the resident of Chicago. Railway safety, in particular, has become an increasingly concerning problem in recent years. Train-to-train collisions, rail crossing accidents, derailment, plat-form jumping—train component failures and operating errors—speeding, switch position mistakes, door opening issues—the list goes on and on. The Train Injury Attorneys of Zneimer & Zneimer P.C. take note of recent developments in Metra’s ongoing efforts to prevent accidents and close-call incidents—Installation of Control Systems and Union approval to launch a Confidential Reporting Program.

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The Bus and Train Injury Attorneys of Zneimer & Zneimer P.C. take note of the continued increase in Chicago Transit Authority employee firings, since 2011, when Forrest Claypool took over as president of the agency. According to reports, roughly 900 CTA employees have been dismissed under Claypool’s watch, a significant portion of which were related to violation of agency rules. As personal injury lawyers, we certainly welcome Claypool’s efforts to clean-up the transit authority. Yet, when considering both the reasons behind such dismissals, as well as the reinstatement of approximately a fifth of these workers, we remain concerned over the safety of public transportation passengers.

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Our Chicago Train Accident and Injury Attorneys are amongst the many residents that remain in astonishment following the recent CTA derailment, which many say mirrors the type of event that you would see only in movies. With more than 30 victims transported to area hospitals, and the operator’s recent admission that she “dozed-off” prior to the collision, in addition to doing so on a previous occasion, multiple lawsuits are expected to be filed as a result of this horrendous incident.

The accident occurred in the early morning hours on Monday, March 24, 2014. According to the National Transportation Safety Board, a CTA Blue Line Train was pulling into O’Hare International Airport, when it jumped the platform, causing the front car to derail and travel up onto an escalator at the station. Officials estimate the train was traveling approximately 25 mph prior to the derailment, but it is unclear at this time how fast train was traveling upon reaching the end of the platform. It is also unclear why the train’s automatic braking system failed to stop the train.

While no individuals on the platform or escalator were injured, more than thirty passengers aboard the train, ranging in age from 38 to 72, sustained varying degrees of injury , including whiplash, headache, bruising, knee injuries, as well as emotional trauma. Victims were transported to four area hospitals for medical treatment.

Our train injury lawyers have learned that the railroad experts investigating the CTA Blue Line crash on September 30, 2013, considered emergency recommendations to the Chicago Transit Authority. According to Jon Hilkevitch of Chicago Tribune, the recommendations “could signal concerns of a future accident.”

The accident happened when an empty out-of-service CTA train hit a stopped Blue Line CTA train carrying passengers, injuring many of the passengers.

According to the NTSB’s letter to Forrest Claypool of the CTA,” the unoccupied train had been stored at Forest Park Repair Terminal awaiting repairs when it began moving under power and departed the terminal entering main line track. The train traveled almost one mile downhill through five mechanical train stop mechanisms before reaching the Harlem Station. The emergency brakes were applied and the train was momentarily stopped several times by the mechanical train stop mechanisms as it proceeded to the Harlem Station. Following each stop, train movement resumed because the master lever on the operator console had been left in a setting that allowed the train car brakes to recover and reset from the emergency brake application and proceed through a mechanical train stop mechanism after a momentary stop.”

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