The Chicago Commuter’s Survival Guide: What to Do After a Bus or Train Accident

People use Public transit services for various reasons. Their car may be in the shop or they may live in the city and not have their own vehicle. Travelers visiting Chicago may choose to fly in and use a mixture of public transit and rideshare services to get around.

Someone may not know how to drive or may have anxiety when driving. Many people find public transit more affordable, while others simply enjoy the ride.

Public transit involves a transportation service that allows residents to get around for a fee. No matter the cost, it’s typically cheaper than gassing up your car. The trains and buses run on a schedule, following specific routes to get travelers to various points in the city. Public transit in Chicago falls under the Chicago Transit Authority, or the CTA.

In addition to benefiting individuals, public transit benefits the city as a whole. The more people choose to go through a bus route or a train line, the less cars and pedestrians are clogging up the area. Less congestion means less carbon output, as well.

Did you know that Chicago has one of the highest-rated public transportation systems? Many Chicago residents rely on the integral network of trains and busses to get them where they need to go on a daily basis.

But what happens in those catastrophic instances where something goes wrong? Where do you turn after you’ve been injured in a bus or train accident in Chicago? Let’s take a closer look.

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What to Do Immediately Following an Accident

Being a part of a traumatic event like a bus or train accident can be terrifying. Many buses don’t have safety features like seat belts and airbags available; the same for trains. Buses are also more prone to rolling over because of their size and shape, while trains are at risk of derailment. That’s why it’s very important to follow these critical steps.

Don’t Move. Even if you were thrown from your seat, stay where you are. Take a deep, calming breath and assess yourself. Can you feel your arms, your legs, your feet? It’s important to remember that adrenaline is a strong drug— you may not feel injured, regardless of any actual injuries. Whiplash and muscle soreness can take hours to kick in.

Call Out to Other Passengers. If you’re on a bus, give the driver a chance to calm everyone first. If you don’t hear anything and you can speak, call out to your fellow passengers. See if everyone is ok, help talk down anyone panicking, and have at least one person call the authorities.

For a train accident, do the same thing. You don’t have a way to verify that the engineer is conscious to call, so delegate someone who can access their phone easily to make the call. Then, as difficult as it feels, you have to wait.

Be Patient. For train accidents especially, there are even more hazards outside the car. The third line on a track is charged with electricity. Everyone needs to wait for authorities to arrive and begin evacuation procedures. Passengers can take this time to help anyone who isn’t obviously injured sit or stand.

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Some may choose to pull up their cell phone cameras and take pictures of any injuries, the wreck from inside, or anything that will help authorities and insurance investigate the crash and document damages. Just be careful in case you have injuries hiding under adrenaline.

Seek Medical Attention. Even if you feel fine, it’s important to let paramedics transfer you to a hospital for a thorough examination. They will check for breaks and fractures, dislocations, traumatic brain injury, and more.

Even if you simply expect to be very sore, you will need a strong prescription for the pain that’s coming once your body catches up to events. You also need documentation for your insurance.

Call a Lawyer. As a victim in the accident, you have the right to access reports and documentation from the authorities and the CTA. You also need to keep track of your medical bills and any costs related to the accident and your recovery, including lost wages.

A qualified CTA attorney from a personal injury firm with a good track record of victories can help you gather all the necessary documentation and calculate damages. They will also investigate your wreck to determine fault and consult medical and public transit experts to help build a solid case.

Working with a lawyer will make the process of determining if you can get compensation and from whom much easier. They will handle the paperwork and negotiations while you focus on recovering from any injuries.

The Law Revolving Train and Bus Accidents

When there is an accident in public transit, it typically falls under personal injury law. This branch of law covers injuries and deaths caused by someone else’s malicious or negligent actions. This can be an individual, such as the other driver in a car accident, or an entire organization, like the CTA in a bus accident.

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Fault becomes very important. Who is at fault for the accident determines if victims can recoup some of the cost.

Transit authorities like the CTA are held to very high standards to keep their passengers safe, even if they can’t offer a 100% guarantee. If there is a mechanical failure or the conductor is at fault, then the CTA is liable for damages.

Things get a bit hazier if the accident was caused by an outside force— such as a driver stopped on the tracks or smashing into the bus. That’s why having a CTA accident attorney around is important to help you build a case.