What You Need To Know If You Were Injured on the CTA
A lot of people get hurt on the CTA (Chicago Transit Authority) buses and trains. The CTA operates buses and trains that transport millions of people every year. Some of their drivers and train operators are great and skilled.
Many of them are not very bright and are not very diligent at their jobs. A lot of them are just waiting for retirement and couldn’t really care much less about the safety of their passengers. Many of them are angry at cutbacks and staff reductions and they end up taking it out on the CTA passenger by acting with less care and safety than they should.
At least 6 times per year, I am contacted by someone who is hurt by bad driving or other bad conduct by a CTA employee.
This includes pumping the brakes on a crowded bus, causing people to fall, or hitting the brakes hard for no reason, or a bus driver not paying attention and closing the pneumatic power bus doors on a person who is entering or exiting the bus. Or even falling in a train station or “El” platform. Usually, the injured person doesn’t want to make a big deal about their injury. Maybe they call the CTA to try to resolve the case themselves. When you do, they get a big surprise. See, the CTA, years ago, would settle small cases and cases they know are valid. Those days are gone. These days, CTA buses and trains all have video cameras that take pictures inside the bus AND outside the bus.
And when the CTA is helped by the video, showing a very minor incident or if the accident did not happen the way the injured person says it did, they tend to have access to the video. They use the video very persuasively in their defense of the CTA injury case. But I have seen a disturbing trend where, in major cases and in cases where I have a number of witnesses to the negligence of a CTA employee, suddenly the video ‘goes missing’ or there was a ‘camera malfunction.’
Very convenient for the CTA and their defense of a case where someone is hurt on a CTA bus or train. It used to be that there was a 6 month deadline to file a Statutory Notice, notifying the CTA of the facts of the injury, but that law has been repealed.
But you STILL only have one year from the date of an injury to file a lawsuit. YES, the Statute of Limitations is usually 2 years in many types of injury cases… BUT THE CHICAGO TRANSIT AUTHORITY HAS MORE PROTECTION AGAINST LAWSUITS BECAUSE IT IS ONLY ONE YEAR! Armed with video, the CTA rarely or never settles these cases and that means that the smartest thing you should do if you get hurt on the CTA is to call a lawyer right away. Unfortunately, some personal injury lawyers in Chicago so not even want to handle cases against the CTA, because they know they do not settle and they have to go to trial. However, some do, like yours truly…
At least twice a year, I am forced to give the bad news to someone who has been wrongfully hurt by the CTA. Because they did not contact a lawyer or file the lawsuit within one year, their case is over and nothing can be done. That is why I always encourage people to contact a personal injury attorney in Chicago if they have been injured.
Although these requirements that apply to the CTA in personal injury claims are the worst (cases against the City of Chicago also have a one year deadline), there are all sorts of variations and exceptions in the Statutes of Limitations in all sorts of different cases.
Only qualified attorneys have the training and experience to evaluate your personal injury case and let you know whether you still have time to file a personal injury lawsuit in your injury case. CTA lawyers fight all of these cases, even when they know that they should settle. That’s because the CTA lawyers are employees, and executives at the CTA in the city of Chicago decide policy.
They have decided that they will save more money by fighting in cases where they should pay. Many of the lawyers who work for the CTA have been there for years. That means that they have defended the same kind of case, over and over. They get really, really good at it. Imagine if you only did one kind of job…over and over. After a while, you’d get pretty good at it. Because you’d have 20 or more years of experience doing that one thing. These TA lawyers are smart cookies with lots of experience.
You’d better hire a lawyer who is willing to take your case ‘all the way’ if that’s what it takes to get the job done. I do not mean to discourage you. I have had success with CTA cases.
Many of the best cases I have had involving an injury on the CTA came from people who ALMOST didn’t call me. Then, it turns out that I was able to develop evidence and information that made their case very strong.
Many times, we do not know unless we put in a bit of time and money and effort into seeing just how strong we can make your case. Besides, injury lawyers offer free consultations, so it costs you nothing.
What You Need To Know If You Were Injured on the CTA
Budget cutbacks and poor use of the money they get from taxes means that CTA management has reduced the safety of the entire CTA system over the years.
Reducing staff, most notably the number train conductors on a train, the number of staff at train stations and the number of bus drivers has resulted in a major transit system that has become substantially less safe. All the while, the cost to ride the bus or train continues to go up.
As citizens and taxpayers, we shouldn’t stand for it. We should demand care for our safety and a reasonably safe ride for the cost of our fare and tax dollars.
What a lot of people don’t realize is that the CTA is what is called a “common carrier” – meaning that normal people place their safety in the CTA’s hands every day.
Because this is the case, the CTA is supposed to exercise the ‘highest degree of care’ for the safety of its passengers. But often times, they don’t. There can never be any reasonable excuse for this.
But rather than giving any sort of reasonable excuse, the CTA tries to cover up wrongdoing, pretend that it is no big deal. They defend cases even when they know that there were wrongdoings and violations of even their own internal safety policy. CTA never settles the case before filing a lawsuit — almost never. I get contacted by lots of people who get a phone call from the CTA about their CTA accident claims. CTA collects a lot of information from the injured person.
Sometimes, they even take a recorded statement from the person. I always tell my clients never to do that, but people do it before they call me. In my opinion, that is always a mistake. The people who call me tell me that they think the CTA is getting ready to settle their case.
I promise you, they are not. They are creating a defense to your case from the minute they pick up the phone with you. They act helpful and friendly, but they don’t settle cases anymore.
They are being nice to you so that you will give them information to beat you if your case goes to court.
I have what I think is a unique way of handling CTA cases and I am able to settle some of them. And really, at this point, I’m ready to take them all to trial.
Most Common Cases
Here are the most common kinds of cases I get calls about when someone is hurt on the CTA:
The bus suddenly stops or suddenly starts, and the client falls down.
The bus crashes into something, including another car, truck or bicycle, or even a concrete median.
The train stops, and then lurches suddenly as a passenger is getting up to get off the train, causing them to fall.
The train malfunctions and fails to stop and smashes into something.
The CTA bus or train operator closes the door on a rider, hurting their hand or arm; or even worse, started to drive away, dragging the client!
There is water or debris on CTA property, causing a fall.
There are other ways you can say “I got hurt on the CTA” but these are the most common. Until personal injury lawyers show the CTA that they’re not afraid to go to trial, then the strategy of not settling cases rewards them by saving them money.
So, this is going to sound very self-serving but I will tell you whether you hire me or you hire another lawyer: the number one thing that is going to make a difference between you recovering money or getting no money is hiring a good lawyer with experience.
I am telling you, there are ways to handle CTA injury cases that many lawyers do not know about.
Most general injury lawyers (who aren’t experienced in CTA cases) don’t even know about these techniques and strategies. They’ve never read about it, never tried it and never studied it.
Choosing an Attorney
So make sure you speak with an attorney who has handled train crash and bus crash cases. If you talk to a lawyer and they ask you three or four questions and then immediately reject your case, they may not be thinking creatively enough about your case. I’ve been able to get substantial settlements for several clients in several different kinds of cases against the Chicago Transit Authority.
Make sure your CTA lawyer can handle an injury on the El, a CTA bus crash, or even a case where the CTA driver closes the door on your arm (believe it or not, this happens an awful lot). If a CTA injury lawyer is going to take a case, then he or she needs to be willing to take the case ‘all the way’ or give you a very good explanation why not. That’s often the only means of making sure that YOU end up with full compensation for your injuries.
Lawyers have to take the CTA to trial and win verdicts against them to convince the CTA that they ought to try harder to settle cases. If you have a CTA accident claim, give me a call. Maybe I can help.
If you have been hurt or have questions about an injury case, I offer injured people a copy of my FREE Injury DVD and Book.
Just call me at my 24/7/365 toll free number 888-HURT-318 (888-487-8318) and ask for the free injury book, and give us your name and mailing address and I will mail it to you free of charge and no obligation. If you are ready to talk, call that same number and ask to speak with me!
WOULDN’T TRUST MY CASE WITH ANY OTHER LAWYER!
"I like Mr. DeSalvo. He is very good with his work and very professional. I knew...