Earlier today, a CTA Green Line train derailed, resulting in several being hospitalized. The early reports are that the derailment of the train occurred at a switch track. The operator went through a red signal and then overrode a safety which would have otherwise stopped the train. The train the proceeded into a switch that was not aligned resulting in the derailment of the train.
The law regards the CTA as a common carrier. This has legal significance because as a common carrier, the CTA is expected to exercise the highest degree of care for the safety of its passengers. In essence, their train and bus operators must be properly trained and do their jobs correctly, and the tracks and other equipment have to be properly maintained. When there is a deficiency in the personnel or equipment of the CTA, the law is likely to hold them liable for injuries sustained by the passengers.
Given how the facts of this derailment are developing, the likelihood is that the CTA will not seriously contest its liability for this accident. However, this does not mean that the passenger injured in this CTA derailment (or any other accident involving the CTA) is out of the woods, legally speaking.
The CTA has the benefit of a special statutory notice that anyone making a claim for injuries against the CTA must file with the CTA within 6 months of the injury. After that, suit must be filed within one year of the injury. The tricky proposition with the CTA notice provision is that it must be completed correctly or the case is at risk for dismissal. Otherwise meritorious personal injury claims against the CTA can be dismissed for technical errors in the notice. This was the subject of a previous blog post. Because of this, anyone injured in a CTA accident would be well-advised to hire an attorney.