Illinois bus accidents are primarily governed by negligence standards.
What Is A Negligence Lawsuit?
Generally, if you harmed by someone else’s wrongful conduct then you can bring a negligence lawsuit against that person for your damages. Negligent lawsuits essentially state that someone else acted unreasonably and injured you in an economic or non-economic way. Negligence actions require the following elements:
- The person owed you a legal duty.
- The person breached that legal duty.
- The breach caused you injury.
- The injury produced legally recognizable damages.
See Dinkins v. Ebbersten , 234 Ill. App. 3d 978, 983 (4th Dist. 1992); Williams v. Conner, 228 Ill. App. 3d 350, 364 (5th Dist., 1992); Illinois Pattern Jury Instructions Civil 10.01; Illinois Pattern Jury Instructions Civil 10.03; Illinois Pattern Jury Instructions Civil 21.02.
What Duties Do Bus Companies Owe To Passengers?
However, bus companies-both public and private- are a different breed of defendants. They are defined as common carriers because they transport people for profit. With this designation comes greater responsibility. Whereas normal defendants only owe others a duty to act reasonable in the circumstances, common carriers owe their passengers and their passengers’ property a duty of the highest care that is practically possible during the transportation. See Sheffer v. Springfield Airport Authority, 261 Ill. App. 3d 151, 154 (4th Dist. 1994); Gaines v. Chicago Transit Authority, 346 Ill. App.3d 346 (1st Dist. 2004). This duty of the higest care was spelled out in Lutz vs. Chicago Transit Authority:
“A common carrier of passengers is required to do all that human care, vigilance and foresight can reasonably do to carry a passenger safely, consistent with the mode of conveyance adopted and the practical operation of its business… It cannot be held liable, however, for negligence unless there is a causal connection between its negligence and the passenger's injury. For there to be a causal connection, the negligence of the carrier need not be the only cause, nor the last or nearest cause of the passenger's injury. It is sufficient if it concurs with some other cause acting at the same time, which in combination with it causes the injury.” 36 Ill App 2d 79, 83 (1962); See also Sandy v. Lake Street El. R. R. Co., 235 Ill. 194 (1908); Alton Light and Traction Co. v. Oliver, 217 Ill. 15, 75 (1905).
How Is This Duty Different Than Traditional Negligence Duties?
From the foregoing, it is clear that courts demand the same negligence requirements from common carriers but also that they protect passengers from any harm that is foreseeable even if it was sparked by another negligent party. This is bad news for bus companies but good news for you because it means they are responsible for a wide range of accidents. Furthermore, the law presumes that a bus company was negligent if a passenger was injured. Dean v. Young, 263 Ill App 3d 964, 967 (1994). This presumption can only be overcome by illustrating that 1) it was an unforeseeable situation or 2) the accident arose from a force outside of its control. Latendresse v. Marra, 49 Ill App 3d 266, 269 (1977). This legal framework gives a lot of flexibility in making your case in a bus accident lawsuit.
What If I Was Negligent Too?
Illinois has a modified view of comparative fault in negligence cases. This means that plaintiffs can still recover if they were partially responsible for the incident unless that portion was greater than 50%. This applies to negligence actions arising out of bus accidents as well. However, if the plaintiff’s misconduct was foreseeable, then the defendant may not be able to count that towards the 51% threshold. Bus companies owe passengers higher standards of care than traditional defendants do and this might mean that a bus accident plaintiff wouldn’t be blamed for what a traditional plaintiff would be blamed for. To learn what the effect of your negligence in a bus accident would be, contact our offices.
How Do Bus Companies Normally Fight Back In Lawsuits?
High-powered bus companies have many resources at their disposal during litigation and frequently offer a few common defenses.
1- The plaintiff is exaggerating his/her injuries
2- The plaintiff is responsible for his/her injuries
3- A third party is responsible for his/her injuries
4- The incident was an act of God
You need to be prepared for these arguments and the many other ones that they will surely use when you file your bus accident claim. With competent counsel, you can successfully overcome these obstacles and achieve the compensation that you deserve.
Do You Still Have Questions About Illinois Bus Accident Laws?
Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers is committed to recovering the most amount of compensation possible for every bus accident victim that we represent. With every case, we set up a contingency-fee agreement so that you don’t have to pay for any charges until everything is over and you are satisfied. If you are not satisfied, you do not pay. Call our offices today and someone from the Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers can explain how the laws of Illinois affect your bus accident case.
To learn more about bus accidents in Illinois, please read the following pages: