I’ve Been Injured While On Public Transportation!
Public transportation providers owe a duty of care to passengers to get those passengers from their point of origin to their final destination safely.
When a mass transit accident occurs on a form of public transit, and passengers are injured, there is likelihood that the public transportation driver was negligent in some way, and this negligence caused the accident. A few examples of public transportation available in Chicago include modes of transit such as Chicago Transit Authority buses or Pace buses, the Metro train, taxicabs, and airplanes.
Public Transit Providers are Considered “Common Carriers”
Public transportation providers are considered common carriers under Illinois state law. This means that public transportation drivers owe passengers a heightened standard of care, compared to the duty private personal vehicle drivers owe to passengers in a motor vehicle accident. This is because the passengers on a public mode of transportation depend on these mass transit drivers to deliver them safely to their destination.
Furthermore, common carriers are in the business of providing transportation to the public. As such, a common carrier owes its passengers the duty to use the highest degree of care consistent with the type of vehicle used in the practical operation of its business.
This duty is owed to passengers starting from the moment that the passengers enter the mode of public transportation, and lasts until the passengers exit the public transportation. The Illinois Courts have held that this heightened duty is also owed to passengers who are standing in line to get on a train, and extends to:
- the intentional acts committed by the public transit employees,
- acts committed by other passengers when the public transportation employees had actual notice of danger to a passenger or notice of facts and circumstances that a danger probably existed
- even the actions of strangers. A failure to provide passengers with this heightened standard of care constitutes negligence on the part of the common carrier.
Under Illinois case law, common carriers include modes of conveyance and devices such as planes, ships, buses, taxicabs, limousines, amusement devices such as a Ferris wheel, trains and even elevators. While these common carriers have a duty to passengers, they also maintain the right to eject passengers for disorderly conduct or a failure to observe and adhere to reasonable rules while acting as a passenger. For example, under the Illinois Railroad Police Act, which applies to both trains and boats, railroad conductors and ship captains or masters have policing power and may arrest and/or eject passengers who commit a crime or misdemeanor while on board the train or boat.