Legally Reviewed by:

Jonathan Rosenfeld

March 2, 2023

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The Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) is the country’s second-largest public transportation system, serving 1.6 million rides on an average weekday. It operates in 35 suburbs aside from Chicago and provides 81% of public transport trips in the six counties of the Chicago metropolitan area.

The CTA provides an essential public service to Chicago residents and those in neighboring areas. The system’s buses and trains transport millions of people who need an easier, faster, and cheaper commute. Unfortunately, CTA accidents happen often despite existing safety measures, and that’s when you need to hire a CTA accident lawyer.

If you or a loved one were injured in a CTA bus accident, Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers, LLC could help. Our personal injury attorneys help recover financial compensation for those injured on CTA buses and trains provided that someone else’s negligence caused the accident.

Contact a Chicago Transit Authority accident lawyer at (888) 424-5757 for a free consultation.

Chicago Transit Authority Service Overview

The Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) operates 1,864 buses driving 129 routes and 1,536 route miles (according to 2017 data). CTA buses make approximately 19,237 trips daily and serve 10,768 bus stops.

The CTA also manages eight ‘L’ trains across the city, consisting of 1,429 rail cars. CTA trains serve around 2,318 trips daily and serve 145 train stations. Local and express bus routes supplement the city’s train system, and many routes operate from early morning to late evening hours. Several are open 24/7.

According to a 2010 census, the CTA’s service population is approximately 3.5 million. Buses and trains serve about 1.59 million rides per weekday and about 497.7 million rides yearly.

Common CTA Accidents

Several types of accidents occur on CTA buses and trains regularly, including:


In 2016 alone, nearly 500 people were injured in CTA bus accidents. These incidents include collisions with pedestrians and other vehicles. Moreover, a 2018 ABC Chicago report found that one CTA bus accident occurs every 36 hours. Causes of these accidents vary, but most involve driver negligence (either by bus drivers or other motorists). Bus-on-bus accidents may also include collisions with school buses, tourist buses, and airport shuttles.

Pedestrian Accidents

Riding on the CTA bus system is not the only thing that can put you at risk of a bus accident. Several cases involve collisions with pedestrians, but not all incidents are caused by bus drivers. Aside from driver negligence, these accidents can stem from pedestrians darting onto the street, jaywalking, and attempting to get on the bus while not at a station.

Train Derailments

In 2019, NBC 5 reported 27 CTA train derailments over the past ten years. The CTA reported most as “minor,” but several incidents resulted in injuries, including the March 2014 train accident involving a collision with an escalator at O’Hare Station. Regardless of severity, there is a high possibility of injury in train derailments.

Train-to-Train Collisions

Collisions between CTA trains rarely occur, but they can cause severe injury and death when they do. According to an NBC report, only four train-to-train collisions happened in the past 18 years.

Accidents at CTA Stations

These incidents can occur when a CTA bus or train hits a stationary object or when passengers get hurt while boarding or exiting buses or trains.

Vehicle accidents involving buses and trains often result in much more severe passenger injuries than with a car or truck, because the occupants are not restrained by seatbelts or any other safety devices. Buses and trains are also incredibly heavy, and thus they have higher inertia.

This means that they are often thrown from their seats or against the fixtures of the cabin, which can cause broken bones, head injuries, and severe whiplash. On very crowded trains and buses, numerous people might fall, and some victims may be crushed under the weight of other passengers.

CTA Accident Lawyer

CTA Bus and Train Accidents Causes

CTA bus and train accidents can occur due to several reasons, including:

  • Bus Driver or Train Operator Negligence: Bus or train accidents can occur when operators fail to abide by traffic laws and vehicle operating rules. Operator negligence includes but is not limited to speeding, distracted driving, and intoxicated driving.
  • Operator Fatigue: Although there are limits on how many hours an operator can work daily, the job is often physically exhausting. Driver fatigue is a common cause of public transport accidents, where operators either fall asleep while driving or fail to react to a hazard on time because of exhaustion. The Blue Line’s devastating 2014 crash was caused by a driver dozing off.
  • Other Drivers’ Negligence: Not all Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) bus accidents are caused by bus operators. Many stem from other motorists’ negligence, including incidents of distracted driving, drunk driving, speeding, tailgating, etc. In this circumstance, it’s necessary to determine who exactly is at fault for the accident and, therefore, who is the proper defendant in your legal case.
  • Poor Maintenance: A mechanical failure can occur due to defective bus or train equipment. Incidents like tire blowouts, brake failures, and faulty signals can lead to devastating collisions.
  • Road conditions: Potholes, uneven surfaces on streets, and construction can all cause accidents. Damaged streetlights or missing stop signs can also lead to drivers of cars or buses colliding with others as they did not know when to stop.
  • Inclement Weather: Snow, ice, sleet, heavy rain, and other poor weather conditions increase the risk of an accident.

What to Do if You Get in a CTA Bus Accident

Do not walk away if you are injured in a CTA bus accident. Here’s what you should do instead:

  • Call the Police: The Chicago police will arrive to assist victims and get involved vehicles off the road. Call 911 if you or other bus passengers have serious injuries. Don’t forget to give your information to the police.
  • Document the Scene: While the police will document the scene, it helps to take down information while you’re there. Take pictures and videos of the scene, including the vehicles involved. If you are the only victim, write down the driver’s information and possible witnesses.
  • Go to the Emergency Room: Seek medical attention as soon as possible. You should have a doctor assess and record any personal injuries. Not every injury is immediately apparent, and shock can prevent you from feeling pain. It’s essential that you get a full examination, including X-rays and CT scans, if you hit your head or were jerked violently when the bus stopped.
  • Contact a CTA Bus Accident Attorney: Find legal assistance immediately. Our public transportation accident attorneys at Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers can help you file a CTA accident claim as soon as possible.

A train accident may be more nerve-wracking than a bus crash, partly because you may not be able to exit the vehicle immediately. It’s crucial to keep a level head and remember what you should do if you get injured in a CTA train incident:

  • Stay Calm and Encourage Others: Panic can easily spread amongst anxious passengers enclosed in a tight space, and this can lead to fatal human stampedes once the doors open and people are allowed to exit. Unless you are severely injured or in immediate danger, such as from a fire, stay in place and encourage others to do so as well.
  • Contact the Authorities: Train service staff members will likely call the authorities soon after an accident. But if they don’t, call the railroad’s emergency number, the Chicago police, or 911.
  • Do Not Deboard Until Directed: Do not attempt to deboard the train unless you are in immediate danger, as doing so could lead to further injury. There may be trains on adjacent rails that have not yet stopped, and the third rail could electrocute you. The train staff needs to turn off the rails and alert other trains to the accident so that the area is clear before they evacuate you.
  • Follow the Authorities’ Instructions: The police will facilitate passengers’ safe exit. The police and CTA authorities will use different evacuation strategies depending on where the train is, such as whether it is fully in a station or if it there is another train on the same track. Exit in an orderly, calm fashion. If you’re in immediate danger, leave all belongings behind; they can be replaced.
  • Document the Scene: Documenting the accident may not be necessary as the police will already do so. However, if you are a lone victim or were injured at a train station, taking pictures of the accident scene could help your CTA accident claim.
  • Seek Medical Attention: Go to the hospital immediately for proper medical care, even if you feel uninjured. The doctor will determine if you have any underlying injuries and require hospitalization. Do not refuse an ambulance ride if you hurt your head.
  • Contact a Personal Injury Attorney: You will need an experienced CTA accident lawyer to file your personal injury case against negligent parties.
Chicago Transit Authority Lawyers

How to Recover Compensation from the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA)

Generally, filing personal injury claims against public entities can be more challenging because of the Local Governmental and Governmental Employees Tort Immunity Act [1]. This Act grants immunities to certain public entities from claims arising from negligence.

However, the state’s tort immunity act excludes common carriers subject to the Metropolitan Transit Authority Act, like the CTA. In other words, the CTA does not have all the same immunities as other government entities, meaning there are fewer hindrances to filing a personal injury lawsuit.

To file a CTA accident claim, you must prove:

  • The defendant owed a duty of care to you. Generally, defendants in personal injury cases are legally obligated to provide ‘ordinary or reasonable care under the circumstances.’ However, as a common carrier, the CTA owes a higher standard of care because passengers must rely on the public transportation system for their safety.
  • The defendant breached this duty of care. A ‘breach of duty’ is usually a negligent act that causes or creates a risk of harm to others. The defendant’s breach can be anywhere from failing to hire competent drivers or allowing faulty vehicles to operate.
  • You suffered a significant injury. To file a CTA bus accident claim, you must prove that you suffered substantial physical, emotional, or financial harm. This will be proven by medical records and by the testimony of your medical team.
  • The defendant’s actions directly caused your damages. You must show that the defendant’s negligence directly led to your damages, e.g., medical bills, lost wages, etc.

Your public transportation accident lawyer will help determine if you have valid grounds for filing a case.


Proving the CTA’s negligence can be an overwhelming feat. Luckily, our CTA accident lawyers do an excellent job of collecting solid evidence. Your accident lawyer will help you gather viable proof for your case, such as:

  • Medical records
  • Photos of the accident scene
  • Police reports
  • Incident reports
  • Surveillance footage
  • Witness accounts
  • Expert testimony
  • Autopsy reports, in case of a wrongful death claim

Claimable Damages

Filing a public transportation accident lawsuit can help you recover financial compensation for the following losses:

  • Medical Bills: Costs of emergency transportation, hospitalization, medication, surgery, therapy, future medical care costs, etc.
  • Disability: Mobility aids, rehabilitation costs, loss of future earning potential, and other related damages if you become temporarily or permanently disabled from the accident.
  • Lost Wages: Income, benefits, and business opportunities lost while recovering from the accident or caring for an injured loved one.
  • Pain and Suffering: Financial compensation for physical and emotional injuries, including physical pain, emotional distress, trauma, etc.
  • Scarring and Disfigurement: Compensation for quality of life lost and other related damages, such as the cost of plastic surgeries, if you become permanently scarred or disfigured from your accident.
  • Property Damage: Costs of repairing or replacing lost or damaged belongings, such as bicycles and electronic devices.
  • Loss of Quality of Life: Compensation for quality or enjoyment of life lost following the accident.
  • Wrongful Death: Funeral and burial costs, pre-death medical expenses, loss of companionship, loss of financial support, and other related damages if you lose a loved one in a CTA accident.
  • Punitive Damages: Additional damages are sometimes awarded in personal injury and wrongful death claims to punish the defendant for gross negligence.

Our legal team achieves varying settlement values for public transportation cases. Your accident lawyer will calculate the potential value of your compensation during your initial consultation.

Dealing With the Insurance Company

Most personal injury claims against the CTA go to its insurance provider. Unfortunately, many public transportation systems are protected by large insurance companies that want to pay as little as possible to claimants.

Hence, filing a claim does not guarantee that you will receive a fair settlement. As a common carrier and a colossal business, the CTA may not offer you the payment you deserve–at least not initially.

Luckily, an experienced attorney from Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers can help you negotiate fair compensation that will cover all your damages.

The Statute of Limitations

Unlike other personal injury cases, the statute of limitations for CTA accident claims is one year from the date of the incident. This statute can make it difficult for injured train and bus passengers to recover a full and fair settlement, as missing the deadline could lead to case dismissal.

Thus, prompt filing is crucial if you are injured on or by a CTA public transportation vehicle. Your personal injury attorney will help you file a claim on time and ensure you recover compensation.

Why You Should Hire a CTA Accident Lawyer

Legal representation is not always necessary in personal injury cases, but going against a public transportation system like the CTA is often challenging. You need an experienced accident lawyer who will:

  • Investigate how and why the accident occurred
  • Determine if a duty exists and whether or not the CTA is liable for your injuries
  • Identify other responsible parties, such as drivers of other vehicles involved in the accident
  • Calculate the extent of your damages and the potential value of your settlement
  • Collect evidence to support your claim, including interviewing other witnesses or passengers involved
  • File a claim with the defendant’s insurer within the statute of limitations
  • Negotiate a fair accident settlement
  • File a lawsuit and represent you in court

Our entire staff treats all public transportation cases with utmost importance and ensures all clients know their rights. To better understand your case, your CTA accident lawyer will discuss the legal process further during your free consultation.

Contact an Experienced CTA Accident Lawyer Today

Public transportation should always be safe and secure. Unfortunately, this is not the case in many cities, including Chicago.

CTA bus accidents are common and often cause significant injuries and financial losses to victims. Train crashes are rare but can be devastating when they do happen, thanks to a train’s enormous size and considerable speed. Regardless, the CTA owes a high standard of care to passengers and could be liable for negligence-related accidents.

Were you or a loved one injured by a CTA public transportation vehicle? If so, the accident attorneys at Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers, LLC can help you recover maximum compensation for your damages if you contact us. Our law firm helps defend victims’ legal rights and hold negligent parties accountable for their actions (or inaction).

Contact our Cook County personal injury law firm at (888) 424-5757 or use the number for a no-obligation case consultation. All confidential or sensitive information you share with our legal team will remain private under an attorney-client relationship.

Our CTA accident attorneys handle all accepted cases on a contingency basis. This agreement ensures you don’t have to pay our legal fees unless we win your case.

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Client Reviews

Jonathan Rosenfeld was professionally objective, timely, and knowledgeable. Also, his advice was extremely effective regarding my case. In addition, Jonathan was understanding and patient pertaining to any of my questions or concerns. I was very happy with the end result and I highly recommend Jonathan Rosenfeld.

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Extremely impressed with this law firm. They took control of a bad motorcycle crash that left my uncle seriously injured. Without any guarantee of a financial recovery, they went out and hired accident investigators and engineers to help prove how the accident happened. I am grateful that they worked on a contingency fee basis as there was no way we could have paid for these services on our own.

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Jonathan helped my family heal and get compensation after our child was suffered a life threatening injury at daycare. He was sympathetic and in constant contact with us letting us know all he knew every step of the way. We were so blessed to find Jonathan!

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This lawyer really helped me get compensation for my motorcycle accident case. I know there is no way that I could have gotten anywhere near the amount that Mr. Rosenfeld was able to get to settle my case. Thank you.

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Jonathan did a great job helping my family navigate through a lengthy lawsuit involving my grandmother's death in a nursing home. Through every step of the case, Jonathan kept my family informed of the progression of the case. Although our case eventually settled at a mediation, I really was impressed at how well prepared Jonathan was to take the case to trial.

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