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Investigations Delve into Whether CTA Blue Line Operator Was Fatigued Before Derailment

Last week we informed our readers of the news of a Chicago Blue Line CTA train derailing at the O’Hare Airport stop. As investigations continue, news has unfolded regarding how this accident that injured over 30 people could have taken place. In efforts to keep our readers up to date on safety issues regarding Chicago public transportation, we wish to bring you the latest updates as well.

According to one news story by ABC, it appears that the driver of the Blue Line train that derailed and crashed onto the platform and escalator of the stop may have been fatigued and fallen asleep while operating the train. Reports have revealed that the operator of this train worked on a schedule called an “extra board.” This means that her shift and assignments change every day.

Prior to the accident, she had worked about 69 hours in the seven days prior, which is allegedly typical for the extra board shifts. However, CTA argues that the driver had worked only 55 hours in the previous seven days. They also say that she had been off for 18 hour before her shift during which this accident occurred. They also elaborate that the operator had requested additional hours, which were two shifts that added up to 13.6 hours, and due to a Union agreement, they were required to provide the operator with those requested additional hours. Investigations are still continuing.

Another article, by US News, quotes the operator as saying she had worked extensive overtime and was extremely tired at the time of the accident. As a result, she may have dozed off right before the derailment. A CTA supervisor and another employee who were present at the station at the time of the accident observed the train enter the platform at a regular speed, not slowing down to stop.

The National Transportation Safety Board have not drawn conclusions about the cause, but are still looking into whether brakes, signals, or human errors were factors in this accident, according to the same article. The CTA trains are designed so that in the case that an operator is incapacitated or slips off of the controls that the train should come to a stop. One present speculation questions whether inertia may have thrown the operator against the switch, which accelerated the train enough to send it onto the platform escalator.

Legally, such investigations are important to determine the part of negligence of the operator, CTA, or both. As our attorneys have discussed before, in tort law, when employees of a company cause personal injuries to patrons, the company can be held liable for the employee’s negligence. This is because employees are seen as “agents” of the company, since they have been hired to act on behalf of the company. Therefore, it is seen that the employees actions, including torts, have been authorized and directed by the company. This is why the issue of how many hours the operator worked has been at issue. Since she is an agent of CTA, it could be argued that CTA directed her to work so many hours and caused her fatigue. As investigations continue, this will determine whether driver fatigue, if that was the factor that caused the derailment, was on the fault of the operator’s own volition or at the direction and fault of CTA.

Commuters trust that when they ride public transportation that they are in safe hands and will reach their destinations without injury. This includes being under the control of a safe driver and fully operational vehicle. If you have suffered injuries on public transportation, such as bus or train, you may be able to recover compensation for your injuries in a lawsuit. Call our firm today for a free consultation, and we may be able to help you in legal action with your injuries and hardship.