No Duty to Spot Fallen Individuals on Train Tracks

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.

The Quiroz v. Chicago Transit Authority case is among a line of recent precedential decision that limit recovery for damages against CTA or train companies.  This case serves as a reference for Chicago train and premises attorneys and victims trying to navigate the intricate landscape of premises liability in Illinois. Emphasizing the ‘open and obvious’ doctrine, the ruling stipulates that open and obvious risks might absolve entities from duty of care.  While there are exceptions, each premises case requires comprehensive legal analysis to determine if the injured party can recover damages.  If you have questions whether you can recover for your injuries, contact the injury law firm of Zneimer & Zneimer.

Contact Information