CTA Slip & Falls
While slip and fall claims are more commonly associated with accidents occurring at a store or upon private property, there are other circumstances in which a person can fall or sustain injury as a result of slipping or tripping, such that the victim may be entitled to compensation. For example, a person can be injured as a result of a slip and fall or trip and fall incident that occurred while at a station or aboard a vehicle that provides public transportation, such as a bus or train. Victims are often unaware that the Chicago Transit Authority can be held liable for a slip and fall injury that occurred upon a vehicle or property under CTA ownership or control.
While recovering compensation for a slip & fall claim directed at a municipal entity like the CTA can be difficult in comparison to other injury claims, it is certainly not an impossibility. Despite any immunities enjoyed by a local government, there are scenarios in which liability can be imposed upon the CTA for its acts or omissions that cause a person to slip, trip, and then fall.
These claims do not come without limitations, though. A person cannot just claim an injury occurred due do a slip and fall without proving that the CTA should be held legally responsible for their action(s) or inaction(s). If this were the case, a person could simply spill some water, and then say they slipped and fell and therefore should be entitled to recover damages for their injuries—the result of which would unfairly expose the CTA to liability. To clarify the distinction between a CTA slip & fall that may be compensable and one that is not, it is first helpful to understand some basic principles regarding duty.
Duty of care is a significant component to claims against the CTA for a slip and fall injuries. The CTA, as public transportation service providers, must adhere to statutory and common law duties imposed upon common carriers with regard to ensuring the safety of their passengers. In Illinois, "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. Rotheli v. Chicago Transit Authority, 7 Ill.2d 172, 130 N.E.2d 172 (1955). In order to prove a CTA slip & fall injury claim, the claimant must first show that the CTA owed a duty, but then also show that this duty was breached.
Determining whether a duty existed depends largely upon factors of reasonableness and foreseeability. In other words, was it reasonably foreseeable that the presence of a dangerous condition created a risk of harm that was likely to cause injury to persons the CTA would expect to occupy property which they own or control? Beyond this, though, duty must also be considered in terms of whether it would be practical, rational, and fair to impose a burden upon the CTA to protect against harm, based upon the magnitude of the burden, as well as the consequences for imposing it.
These concepts can be illustrated through use of an example:
Weather conditions cause the accumulation of water, snow or ice upon a public transportation vehicle, or in areas of ingress and egress (steps, platforms, stations, sidewalks).
Here the likelihood of injury must be weighed against the burden placed upon the CTA to remedy or warn of the hazard. Rainwater, snow and/or ice are typically considered to be natural accumulations in which the CTA owes no duty to remove or provide warning. This is because the possibility of slip and fall injury in such scenarios is generally said to have outweighed the undue burden of requiring the CTA to check its platforms, passageways, and walkways each and every time passengers enter or exit.
At the same time, though, this so called 'natural accumulation exception,' does not provide a complete defense in all circumstances, nor does provide any protection for the CTA in cases involving 'unnatural accumulations.' For these reasons, it is important to have your case reviewed by an injury attorney that has prior experience representing slip and fall accident victims of public transportation passengers.
The Chicago Bus and Train Injury Lawyers of Zneimer & Zneimer P.C. have successfully obtained compensation on behalf of numerous slip and fall victims, including those involved in accidents occurring on CTA property. If you were injured, our knowledgeable team of attorneys can review your personal injury case, free of charge, and discuss your rights and options to seeking financial recovery by asserting a claim against the CTA. You can contact us online, or give us a call at 773-516-4100.