Buses, vans, trains, and other public transportation vehicles are involved in more than 7,000 crashes a year. Most of these wrecks cause numerous serious injuries. These cases are quite complex, as outlined below.
Since the injuries are usually serious and the cases are usually complex, only the best Rockford personal injury attorneys should handle these claims. The stakes are high. Compensation in a transit accident case usually includes money for economic losses, such as medical bills, and non-economic losses, such as pain and suffering.
What Causes Transit Accidents?
Most non-commercial drivers have a duty of reasonable care. They must drive defensively and avoid accidents when possible. Bus drivers, train operators, and other transit operators are common carriers in Illinois. Therefore, they have a higher duty of care.
Common carriers are not quite insurers of safe conduct from one place to another. But they are awfully close to that designation.
As a result, it is easier to establish negligence, or a lack of care, in transit accident claims. Such negligence usually involves one of the following areas:
- Behavioral: Fatigue is a serious problem among transit operators. Drowsiness and alcohol have about the same effect on the brain and body. Driving after 18 consecutive awake hours is like driving with a .05 BAC level. That’s above the legal limit for commercial operators in Illinois.
- Operational: A surprising number of operators do not obey basic traffic laws, such as speed limits. Other operators fail to account for the vehicle’s large size when taking curves or making lane changes.
- Environmental: The weather is quite unpredictable in Illinois, especially during certain times of the year. Many new operators are not ready for sudden weather changes. Because they have a higher duty of care, these operators have a duty to be extra careful when the weather is bad.
Legally, victim/plaintiffs can use ordinary negligence, which is a lack of general care, or negligence per se, the violation of a statute, to establish liability.
Identifying the Proper Party
This portion of the claim is not always as easy as it seems. Frequently, private contractors either own the vehicle or employ the driver. If that’s the case, the claim probably follows a standard civil claim outline, as opposed to the notice-of-claim path outlined below.
It is important to get procedural details right the first time. Usually, if the attorney makes a procedural mistake, the error can be undone. However, the delay is often costly, from both an emotional and financial standpoint.
If the city, county, state, or other governmental entity is involved in the case, Rockford personal injury attorneys must first file notice of claims.
A notice of claim gives the governmental unit an additional chance to resolve the claim out of court. Typically, the government has sixty (60) days to investigate the claim and make a settlement offer. If the government misses the deadline or the offer is unacceptable, the victim may file a civil claim.
Once again, attention to detail is important. Frequently, the time deadlines are different in notice of claim matters than they are in civil matters.
Contact a Savvy Attorney
Transit accidents often cause serious injuries. For a free consultation with an experienced Rockford personal injury lawyer, contact Fisk & Monteleone, Ltd. Home and hospital visits are available.