Illinois Appellate Court Upholds Dismissal of Wrongful Death Action Involving Intoxicated Passenger on Public Bus

Wrongful death accidents are an unfortunate part of driving. This includes any situation where a driver or passenger in a vehicle loses his or her life because another driver did not use the right level of care behind the wheel. In some cases, a wrongful death action can even involve a mass transit provider or common carrier that did not exercise due care in transporting its passengers. This raises unique issues about how you must go about asserting your claim for damages after losing a loved one. If you find yourself in a similar situation, reach out to a diligent Chicago wrongful death lawyer to help you understand your rights during this stressful and chaotic time.

In a recent appellate decision, the Illinois Court of Appeal issued an opinion in a case involving a man who lost his life as a passenger on a Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) bus. The plaintiff died from prolonged alcohol toxicity. The administrator of the decedent’s estate brought a negligence action against the CTA and other individuals involved with the accident, including the bus driver. The plaintiff’s complaint alleged that the defendants were negligent in failing to call for medical help to assist the defendant, failing to check his condition, and failing to take reasonable action to render first aid, among other things. It also alleged that the CTA should have trained its employees in how to deal with situations where a passenger is experiencing medical distress.

The CTA responded to the complaint by filing a motion to dismiss on the basis that the defendants did not owe the decedent a duty of care because the decedent didn’t show any signs of medical distress or tell anyone that he needed assistance. It also asserted that the decedent’s level of intoxication did not create a duty because they did not owe a duty to every passenger to assess their physical condition before boarding or while riding the bus. It also pointed out that imposing this level of duty on the CTA in regard to every passenger would create an unduly burdensome situation and would be impractical to carry out in reality. The CTA also provided two videos showing footage of the decedent on the bus for the purpose of showing that he was not displaying signs of distress.

The trial court granted the motion to dismiss and the plaintiff appealed. On review, the appellate court first stated that a passenger’s intoxication does not create a duty for the common carrier to stand guard over that passenger. But, where the common carrier is aware of the intoxication, it has a duty to make sure that the passenger does not become exposed to unreasonable harm. Reviewing the facts in the record, the appellate court concluded that the complaint was properly dismissed because the defendants were not aware that the decedent was intoxicated.

If a loved one was killed in a Chicago wrongful death accident, you may be entitled to compensation. At Therman Law Offices, we will answer your questions, gather evidence on your behalf, work with insurance companies, and protect your rights. Our lawyers offer a free consultation to discuss your potential case in private. Call today at 773-545-8849 or contact us online to get started.

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