In April of this year, the National Transit Safety Board released the findings from their investigation of the March 24, 2014 train derailment at O'Hare Airport that left more than 30 passengers injured and caused $9 million in damages. According to a Northwest Herald online article, the NTSB report was critical of Chicago's transit agency as well as other local transit bureaus, and it warned that without changes another accident could easily occur elsewhere. As a result of the investigation, the federal agency is urging the implementation of more stringent safety measures in railway networks nationwide.
The Initial Accident
On March 24, 2014, the driver of a commuter train fell asleep at the controls as the train was approaching the O'Hare station and failed to apply the brakes, causing the train to crash through the station, hop off the rails, and proceed partially up an escalator. The driver admitted falling asleep and was fired, but the federal investigation focused on the policies of Chicago's transit agency and how they may have contributed to the accident.
According to the article, the driver of the train involved in the accident was working a schedule that contributed to her exhaustion. She had been working 12 straight days of primarily night shifts. The NTSB reported that train drivers in Chicago were not given sufficient time off between shifts, and that many inexperienced drivers were working excessive hours.
According to the article, Chicago's transit agency has implemented several changes and improvements in their safety practices since the accident. Policies were modified to ensure that employees are allowed adequate rest periods between shifts, and to increase employee education on fatigue management. With the changes, authorities hope to prevent another accident like last years in Chicago. The NTSB report also proposed that local transit agencies nationwide begin implementing automatic braking systems in their commuter lines that would help to stop the trains if the operators failed to apply the brakes. Such systems, while expensive, would greatly reduce the risk of future accidents.
Employers’ Liability for Their Employees
Both public agencies and private companies may be legally responsible to victims of an accident caused by the negligence of an employee on the job. Companies can sometimes avoid liability for an accident by arguing that the negligent employee was acting outside of the scope of their employment when the accident occurred. If an accident can be attributed to unsafe policies or practices that were permitted by the company, it is more likely that the company can be held responsible for the damages related to the accident. Victims and their families can pursueÂ relief after an accident by filing an Illinois personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit to seek damages to compensate them for the expenses and losses related to the accident.
Have You Been Injured in a Chicago Accident?
If you or a loved one has been injured or killed in an Illinois train accident, the personal injury attorneys at the Cavanagh Law Group can help you seekÂ the compensation that you deserve. Whether it's a negligent driver falling asleep at the wheel or a hazardous condition causing a slip-and-fall injury, our lawyers know how to hold the responsible parties accountable for the damage that they have caused. At the Cavanagh Law Group, we represent clients in most personal injury and wrongful death cases, including mass transit accidents.