What Do Ships, Elevators, The L & Amusement Park Rides Have In Common?

What do ships, elevators, the L, and amusement park rides have in common? Under Illinois law, they are all considered “common carriers.” This means they all have a special responsibility to protect the people that choose to ride on them.

Although your safety is not guaranteed when you get on a bus or take out-of-town visitors for a ride on the Ferris Wheel at Navy Pier, a common carrier must provide you with the highest degree of care they can, taking into consideration the type of transportation involved and the realities of operating a business. A failure to fulfill this duty is considered negligence.

Any Chicago-area resident who is injured while boarding, riding on, or exiting a vehicle or other mode of transportation that is considered a common carrier should not hesitate to seek compensation for the injury

Why Are Common Carriers Treated Differently? 

The special laws that govern common carriers were created long ago when Chicagoans first started traveling in mass. Policy makers realized there is simply a greater risk that someone will be injured when a large group of people is being moved around together, so the person or company doing the moving needs to step up their safety game. 

This viewpoint has been affirmed multiple times in the past 100+ years. Common carrier law played an important role in compensating the victims of both the Eastland disaster in 1915 and the tragic Illinois Central train accident in 1972. When the Eastland, an excursion steamer, capsized in the Chicago River, 844 people were killed. The Illinois Central wreck in 1972 killed 45 people when two commuter trains collided at 27th Street. 

Knock on wood, we haven’t had any truly horrible mass transit accidents in recent years, but the common carrier law continues to protect us all as we go about our daily lives in the Windy City. 

Safety First

The duties of a common carrier not only apply in mass accident scenarios but on a day to day basis to keep us all safe. 

Carriers have a duty to protect passengers not just from injury while boarding, riding, and exiting, but from injuries caused by carrier employees and other passengers or third parties. 

If a carrier is aware that a passenger is at greater risk of injury because he or she is disabled, sick, intoxicated, or a child traveling alone, the carrier must take even greater care than normal. 

Holding Carriers Accountable 

When a common carrier causes an accident or injury, we must hold the owners and operators responsible. They have the potential to harm too many people for us to let them off the hook. Unfortunately, doing so can be challenging because carrier owners and operators often try to hide behind their corporate structures. They typically have an army of lawyers at their disposal and a PR team ready to spin any story so that the company’s reputation and bottom line do not take a hit. 

At Stein & Shulman, we have years of experience fighting back against slick legal moves and PR double-talk on behalf of our Chicagoland clients. If you or a loved one was injured in an accident with, or while riding on a bus, plane, train, boat, elevator, or amusement park ride, and you want to hold the owners and operators accountable for your injuries, please contact us our office to learn more about your potential right to compensation