Free Consultation: (312) 924-7575 Tap Here To Call Us
Abels & Annes, P.C. Abels & Annes, P.C.
We've collected millions for our clients.
Let us fight for you.
Contact Us for a Free Consultation

Charter Bus Companies Have a Duty to Hire Qualified Drivers

Charter buses are convenient in many situations. Groups may rent a large bus to all travel together on excursions, to compete in athletic events, for social gatherings such as weddings, and more. Some people may also purchase tickets to ride charter buses as a form of long-distance transportation, as it can be more economical than flying, driving, or taking a train. While bus travel is known to be relatively safe, about 67,000 bus accidents happen each year, as reported by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). If a bus accident causes you injuries, it is important to recognize the potential causes of the crash to determine liability for your injury-related losses.

Bus Driver Errors

While not every bus accident is the fault of the bus driver, driver error is a common cause of crashes and passenger injuries. Buses are commercial vehicles, so every driver must have a valid commercial driver’s license (CDL) in order to operate any type of bus. Obtaining such a license involves taking a written test, passing a driving skills test, passing a medical examination, among other steps.

Once licensed, a commercial bus driver must then obey all of the relevant traffic laws in Illinois as well as an extensive set of FMCSA regulations. Buses are also known as “common carriers,” which means the bus owners and operators have a higher duty of care to keep passengers safe than other drivers on the road. Despite all of these requirements, bus drivers are only human and can make careless or even reckless decisions that lead to crashes.

Examples of driver errors include:

  • Speeding
  • Driving while intoxicated
  • Driving while overly fatigued
  • Distracted driving
  • Taking turns too fast
  • Ignoring traffic signals
  • Driving with a serious health condition

Any of the above, among many other possible mistakes, can cause a bus to crash and cause serious injuries to passengers and other motorists.

Bus Companies Also Have Responsibilities

While people may look directly to the negligent bus driver after an accident, you should realize that bus companies can also have significant liability for an accident. Bus companies can be automatically liable for the negligent acts of employees and they also may be negligent in their own right, as well.

Bus companies have many legal duties of their own, such as the duty to inspect and maintain buses and the duty to follow FMCSA regulations. One highly important duty is to hire qualified drivers. First and foremost, every driver who is allowed to operate a bus should have an active CDL. The most basic thing a company can do during the hiring process is check to make sure an applicant has a valid and current license to drive the bus. If a bus company allows someone without a CDL to drive, it can lead to liability for negligent hiring.

Negligent hiring can also involve many other missteps on the bus company’s part. This may include:

Driving and criminal records – A bus company should carefully check every applicant’s driving and criminal record. If the applicant has convictions for driving under the influence (DUI) or other severe driving offenses, there may be the risk of a repeat offense while they are operating a bus full of people. In addition, if someone’s driving record shows multiple speeding citations or other traffic violations, it may be a sign of a pattern of dangerous driving that may continue behind the wheel of the bus, and the company should carefully consider whether the driver is qualified.

Substance abuse – Even if a person does not have DUI convictions, they may still have a history of drug and/or alcohol abuse. Such a history may be an indication that impaired driving may occur in the future. Because impaired driving is so dangerous when it comes to bus driving, any bus company may want to rethink hiring someone with a known history of substance abuse.

Health conditions – In order to obtain a CDL, an applicant must undergo a thorough medical evaluation to ensure they have no major health conditions that may make driving unsafe. However, some bus driver applicants may have already had a CDL for several years and, in the meantime, may have developed new health conditions that make them risky drivers. Such health conditions may include arthritis, vision problems, conditions that may cause seizures, and more.

Previous work experience – A hiring bus company should also examine the past work experience of an applicant. For example, if the applicant was terminated from a previous bus driving job because of FMCSA violations or other misconduct, they may repeat their past conduct. If a driver lost their job after causing accidents, they may be prone to making errors that could cause future accidents.

Surprisingly, some bus companies hire unqualified or potentially dangerous drivers and allow them to drive around hundreds of people per day. If a driver is not properly qualified to operate the bus, a skilled attorney should examine the hiring practices of the bus company that employed the driver. If the company knew or should have known about the driver’s risks or lack of qualification, the company can be liable due to its negligent hiring.

In addition to negligent hiring, a company may also be held responsible for negligent supervision or retention of drivers. A company should carefully oversee every driver to ensure they are in compliance with all applicable laws and regulations. If a company fails to adequately supervise employees or fails to take disciplinary action against drivers who violate safety rules, the company should be liable for its negligent actions.

Call Our Chicago Bus Accident Lawyers to Discuss a Possible Case Today

Dangerous bus drivers and bus companies can cause severe and life-changing injuries. The law firm of Abels & Annes, P.C., knows how to hold negligent parties accountable so that injured bus accident victims can recover for their medical expenses, lost wages, and more. If you would like to discuss your legal options, please do not hesitate to call (312) 924-7575 or contact us online for a free consultation today.

Four Things to Do after a Public Transportation Accident

The Chicago Transit Authority, otherwise known as CTA, operates the second-largest public transportation system in the United States. The CTA serves the City of Chicago, along with 40 neighboring communities, by rail and bus. Riders may pay cash for single-trip rides or a Ventra Transit Card or Unlimited Ride Pass for added cost savings.

Due to the convenience and low costs associated with public transportation in and around Chicago, it is a feasible alternative for visitors and locals alike. However, accidents involving public transportation vehicles do sometimes happen when drivers and operators are in a hurry or operate their vehicles in a careless or reckless manner. When these accidents happen, there are certain steps you should take in order to increase your chances of recovering monetary compensation.

The Chicago public transportation accident lawyers at Abels & Annes, P.C. understand the pain, suffering, and inconvenience associated with public transit accidents. Our lawyers can meet with you to discuss the facts and circumstances of your case and provide you with thorough, cost-efficient legal representation.

Step 1 – Complete an Accident or Incident Report

In most cases, after being involved as a passenger in a public transit> accident, the transit vehicle operator will ask you to make a statement or to fill out an incident report. When doing so, you should be as complete and accurate as possible about what happened during the accident. You should also carefully detail your observations, as well as> any injuries you sustained in the accident.

Step 2 – Treat Your Injuries

After you are involved in any type of accident – including a public transit accident – you should seek immediate medical treatment at a hospital or urgent care facility. You should do this even if you do not feel that you sustained injuries in the accident. In many cases, symptoms and injuries do not manifest themselves until several days after the accident. Once you are discharged from the hospital or urgent care facility, you should follow through with any treatment recommendations. This includes following up with a primary care doctor or specialist, if necessary.

Step 3 – Contact a Personal Injury Lawyer to File a Claim or Lawsuit on Your Behalf

If you have sustained injuries in a Chicago public transit accident, you may be eligible to pursue monetary compensation for any injuries and damages which you sustained. A personal injury lawyer can undertake a thorough investigation into the facts and circumstances of your case and can bring a claim against all potentially responsible parties. These may include the bus or train operator, the City of Chicago, the CTA, or another motor vehicle driver.

In public transit accident cases, most personal injury lawyers will sue anyone and everyone who could potentially be responsible for the accident, in order to protect the statute of limitations deadline. In the State of Illinois, for most public transportation accidents, if you do not file a claim or lawsuit against a responsible party within one year of the date of the accident, you will be forever barred from seeking monetary compensation for your injuries against that person or entity. Sometimes, you may also be required to provide notice within an even shorter time frame. In a Chicago public transit accident case, your lawyer may be able to do the following:

  • File a claim or lawsuit against the negligent transit driver – In public transit accident cases, one of the primary defendants is usually the bus or train operator who caused the accident. Public transit accidents occur under a variety of circumstances, including speeding, careless driving, or distracted driving. If the transit driver is the cause – or a cause – of the accident, you may be able to file a claim or lawsuit directly against him or her.
  • File a claim or lawsuit against the City or the CTA – In addition to filing a claim or lawsuit against the negligent transit driver, you may also be able to file a claim against the City of Chicago and/or the CTA. Under agency law, governmental entities can be held responsible when their employees behave in a negligent manner. They can also be liable for negligently hiring, retaining, or failing to supervise a negligent employee. Keep in mind, however, that special notice requirements and time limitations oftentimes apply when filing claims or lawsuits against governmental entities.
  • File a claim or lawsuit against the other motor vehicle driver – In some cases, the public transit operator operates his or her vehicle in a reasonable and careful manner. However, another driver negligently causes the accident. In that case, you may be able to file a claim or lawsuit directly against the driver and/or the owner of that other vehicle.

Step 4 – Follow Your Lawyer’s Recommendations

When it comes to litigating, settling, or trying a public transit accident case, a personal injury lawyer can be an invaluable asset and resource. A lawyer may be able to recommend the following:

  • Whether or not you should accept a pending settlement offer
  • Whether or not you should take your case to trial

Call a Chicago Public Transportation Accident Lawyer Today for a Free Initial Case Evaluation and Legal Consultation

Public transit accidents are complicated because it is often difficult to determine who or what caused the accident. The Chicago personal injury lawyers at Abels & Annes, P.C. can investigate your case and make a claim against the responsible persons or entities. Our team of litigation attorneys will then work to negotiate a favorable settlement offer in your case. If the insurance company refuses to place a reasonable settlement offer on the table, our attorneys welcome the opportunity to file a lawsuit in your case and litigate it through the Illinois court system.

In a public transit accident case, a personal injury lawyer may be able to help you recover monetary compensation for medical and physical therapy bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, lost earning capacity, emotional distress, mental anguish, and loss of consortium.

To schedule a free consultation and case evaluation with a Chicago, Illinois public transportation accident lawyer, please call us today at (312) 924-7575 or contact us online.

Bus Accidents Can Cause Serious injuries

Tens of thousands of Chicagoans take buses every day—whether the CTA or RTA public transportation buses, school buses, private charter buses or shuttle buses.

According to the American School Bus Council, each day some 480,000 school buses transport 25 million children to and from school.

We entrust our safety to the bus drivers and the mechanical safety of buses.

Unfortunately, bus accidents happen. Buses can strikepedestrians, bicyclists, or other vehicles. Those accidents, in turn, can cause injuries to bus passengers. And passengers can hurt themselves while boarding or exiting the bus.

The sheer size of buses can pose significant safety hazards. They are big, hard to maneuver, and take longer distances to stop. The limitless causes of bus accident injuries include:

  • Unsafe road conditions
  • Road hazards (such as large potholes) can lead to unexpected movement and injuries
  • Poor maintenance that leads to mechanical failures and collisions
  • Faulty parts that cause catastrophic failures
  • Driving error by either the bus driver or another third party (like a car driver)

Common Bus Accident Injuries

Although some bus accidents can result in minor injuries, all too often, bus accident victims suffer catastrophic injuries. They can follow a bus accident victim for a lifetime, even resulting in permanent disabilities, disfigurement, and death. Some bus accident injuries can include:

  • Back and neck injuries: Whiplash results when a sudden force causes the head or neck to shake forward or to the side. More serious neck and back injuries can involve injuries to the discs or even spinal column, resulting in decreased motion and even paralysis.
  • Extremity injuries: In a bus crash, your arms and legs may flail about in uncontrolled movements. This can result in injuries to your extremities, including cuts, bruises, torn soft tissue, and even broken or dislocated bones. The most severe extremity injuries are those that result in compound fractures or limb severing. These require immediate medical attention and can develop into lifelong, permanent injuries.
  • Internal bleeding and trauma: The force of a bus crash can cause a victim to hit the abdomen or torso. This can result in significant internal injuries to the stomach, spleen, kidneys, lungs, and ribs. Internal injuries are not always immediately apparent, so seek a medical evaluation, even if you don’t think the accident hurt you.
  • Traumatic brain injuries: >A traumatic brain injury (TBI) takes place when any sort of force fractures the skull or an impact to a victim’s head is so severe it results in the brain colliding forcefully inside the head. In a bus accident, this can happen if a violent motion causes you to hit your head on a window, a steering wheel, the pavement, or even the seat behind you or in front of you. This violent motion can lead to brief or much longer loss of consciousness. Mild TBIs, like concussions, usually resolve with rest and treatments. All TBIs can leave lifelong effects on people, including changes in personality, the ability to self–function, and memory loss. More serious TBIs can lead to hospitalizations and even brain swelling. In extreme cases, if left untreated, even mild TBIs can lead to death.

Serious injuries, like those listed here, inevitably lead to heavy financial burdens. Medical treatments and long-term rehabilitation is expensive. If you cannot work because of your injury, this also leads to lost wages and further financial problems.

What Should I Do After a Bus Accident?

Buses are large and powerful. As a result, when buses crash, traumatic and serious injuries can occur. If you are involved in a bus accident:

  • Assess your personal health and those around you. You need to make sure you are physically okay—and if possible, check those around you. If you or someone else has suffered injuries, seek immediate medical attention. Even if you don’t appear to have sustained immediate injuries, get a checkup soon after the incident. Some injuries take hours or days to manifest.
  • Don’t discuss fault with anyone. This is a common mistake that people make at accident scenes—whether victims or those at-fault. Insurance companies can use anything you say during this time against you if you later seek compensation for your injuries.
  • Contact the proper authorities. This might include the local police department, or local school if a school bus was involved.
  • Get as much information as possible (circumstances permitting). If you are not injured or your injuries allow, get the bus driver’s information, the bus number, route number, etc. (but don’t forgo immediate needed medical treatment). If you have a smartphone, take pictures.
  • Look for witnesses. If you see bystanders, ask them for their contact information and seek permission to follow up with them. This can prove important later when the facts start to fade from memory.
  • Be careful whom you talk to. Immediately after an accident, many people may want to talk to you or your family. This includes the other side’s insurance company and lawyers. Don’t talk to anyone you don’t want to or whom you think might not work in your best interests.
  • Consider hiring a bus accident attorney. Talk to an experienced attorney who deals with insurance companies to protect your rights.
  • Continue treatment for injuries. Continue to get proper and timely treatments for all of your injuries. Follow your recovery plan and document all of your appointments, expenses, and other losses.

Seek the Help of a Chicago Bus Accident Attorney

If you or someone you love was seriously injured in a bus accident, as a passenger or otherwise, preserve your legal rights. The bus accident attorneys at Abels & Annes, P.C. can help guide your potential personal injury claim. Contact us or call us today at (312) 924-7575 to discuss the details of your case.