What to Do If You’re In An Accident When Taking Chicago Public Transit

what to do accident Chicago public transit

Being in a vehicle accident of any kind can be a traumatic, painful experience. The severity of the accident will determine how quickly you can get back to your normal routine and whether you rack up new expenses. It can be enough of a hassle dealing with insurance and other drivers— what happens when public transit is involved?

The Basics of Public Transit

Public transit typically involves bus and train routes through large cities like Chicago. They’re a popular form of transportation for a lot of people throughout America and Europe. They cut down on traffic and congestion, allow people who can’t drive an easy way around town, and more. They’re also a good option for travelers who fly in and don’t want to brave Chicago traffic.

This service is generally operated by an over-arching organization, such as the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA). The CTA and other authorities are held to stringent requirements for safety, from train operation to the mechanics of each train car and bus under their domain, to track signals and conductor training, to station maintenance and safety. While there is no 100% guarantee of safety, the expectations are high.

So when something actually does go wrong, it’s important to figure out why—and who’s at fault.

Fault and Compensation

Injuries in accidents involving buses or trains can be more catastrophic than standard cars. Buses are large, bulky vehicles with few safety features that are at risk of rolling over; trains rarely have seat belts and are basically strings of giant metal machinery. Injuries can range from bruises and whiplash to multiple broken bones and death.

When you’re involved in a catastrophic accident, there is no denying that you have a lot of expenses that are about to pile up. First, you need to go to the hospital. You need to treat any wounds and injuries seriously, including time off work. This time off leads to lost wages. Then you have medicines, follow-up appointments, and possibly mobility aids or medical equipment to help you get around. Even with insurance, this can start to add up. This is where fault comes in.

Train accident and Bus accident laws lay out guidelines for determining fault in an accident, as do state regulations on public transit. Determining fault helps insurance and authorities determine who is liable for damages.

If the fault lay with the public transit vehicle or employee, then the CTA covers damages. If someone drove onto the tracks despite all warnings and collided with the train, then they’re insurance is liable. If a city driver runs a red light and T-bones a bus, then that driver is at fault. Investigators will go over all available evidence, but you have to take steps to protect your rights and access those reports if you want to seek compensation.

What to Do After a Public Transit Accident

If you are in an accident while riding a train or a bus, then how you react after the impact will differ from if you are a driver in a vehicle. However, some steps are the same.

First and foremost, it’s important that you don’t immediately get up. Shock and adrenaline can have incredible effects on the body, including tricking your mind into thinking you are perfectly fine when you actually have lacerations or severe muscle bruising. Take a deep breath and assess yourself. Can you feel? Can you move? Are you bleeding? Slowly get up if you feel generally ok and aren’t sporting any large obvious wounds.

Move carefully, and take extra precautions to avoid muscle strain. Even if you haven’t broken anything, you likely have at least whiplash or other muscle injuries that won’t make themselves known for several hours— you don’t want to make them worse.

Next, check on your fellow passengers. Help anyone who seems safe to move and talk to each other to keep each other calm. Whoever has the easiest access to a phone needs to call 911. In a bus, your driver may take charge of this and handle the call; you can call out to see if they are able. In a train, you don’t have access to the crew; play it safe, and have someone in your car call.

Do not leave the train. Extra safety precautions are involved with evacuation, so you need to wait for authorities and public transit staff to start. Train tracks have a live electrical line along one of the rails, and you don’t yet know if other trains have been alerted or if there are other tracks or hazards. For bus passengers, you may be able to evacuate out the emergency windows; you may need to wait for authorities to reach the bus and help.

If you are able and need something to do to stay calm, take pictures. Document what you can of the scene, including any injuries, and exchange contact information with other passengers so you can all access the evidence. Documentation will help authorities and insurance adjusters.

Next, seek medical attention. Even if you feel fine, as mentioned, shock can mask a lot. Let medical experts give you a thorough examination and prescribe any medicine possible. From here on, start saving receipts. Hospital bills, pharmacy receipts, and any expenses related to your injury and recovery. Also, track any lost wages. All of this will be important.

Finally, you need to contact an experienced CTA accident attorney.

Why Get Legal Assistance?

Recovery after a traumatic experience, or worse, covering burial and funeral experiences, can easily reach thousands of dollars in cost and expenses, otherwise called damages. When you are injured due to someone else’s maliciousness or negligence, you likely aren’t liable to cover those damages— they are.

A personal injury lawyer in Chicago with experience in public transit accidents can help you get the maximum compensation you deserve. They’ll investigate all of the evidence to help determine fault, help you with documentation and paperwork, and handle any negotiations or court representation. A CTA accident attorney is your strongest ally here; let them handle the case while you focus on yourself and your family.

Amie has a love for numbers and holds a master’s degree in finance. When she’s not playing with numbers or words or pottering in the garden, you can find her in the kitchen roasting her own coffee beans.

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