Illinois Appellate Court Affirms That Walking Outside of a Crosswalk is Pedestrian Negligence- Longo v. Chicago Transit Authority

The Illinois Appellate Court clarified the duty owed to pedestrians who are outside of set crosswalks in the personal injury lawsuit of Amanda Jimolka v. Chicago Transit Authority, et al., No. 1-10-2894 (2011). The court held that motorists only owe a duty to pedestrians who are within the limits of an identified crosswalk. As a result, the Jimolka matter was dismissed based on evidence that the plaintiff was not within a crosswalk at the time of her injury.

The bus accident at issue occurred in August 2001 near the intersection of Belmont Ave. and Clark St. in Chicago. The plaintiff, Beverly Longo, was walking across the street when she was hit by a CTA bus. Although Longo was outside the crosswalk when she was hit, her guardian alleged that the CTA and its bus driver were still at fault in the pedestrian accident.

Longo’s attorneys contended that she was not in the crosswalk because of heavy pedestrian traffic and also blamed a bike rider who was making a delivery for a sandwich shop. Longo claimed because of these impediments, she was unable to walk in the crosswalk and was forced to walk in other areas. Longo also accused the bus driver of speeding and claimed that if he had been driving at a normal speed that the bus accident could have been avoided.

While Longo’s personal lawsuit initially named the bicyclist and his sandwich shop employer as defendants, they were later dropped, leaving the CTA and the bus driver as the only remaining defendants. It its defense, the CTA produced evidence which demonstrated that Longo had walked into the CTA bus’s path without warning. A CTA video attached to the bus in question revealed that Longo was nine feet outside of the crosswalk at the time of the bus accident.

In addition to showing that was Longo well outside the crosswalk at the time of the accident, the CTA was able to demonstrate that the bus was not speeding at the time of the pedestrian accident. The video and eyewitness accounts both confirmed that the bus had just began to enter the intersection, that it had the right of way, and was only going about 5-10 mph.

Based on the damning nature of this evidence, the CTA filed a motion for summary judgment in which it requested the dismissal of Longo’s personal injury lawsuit based on the evidence that showed she was outside of the crosswalk at the time of the bus accident. The trial court granted the defendants’ motion and then denied Longo’s motion to reconsider its decision. Longo’s attorneys then appealed this decision to the Illinois Appellate Court.

While reviewing the facts of Longo’s incident, the Illinois Appellate Court referenced Williams v. City of Chicago, 371 Ill.App.3d 107 (2007), a case which held that the City of Chicago did not owe the plaintiff a duty of care for her injuries because she was not within a crosswalk when the incident occurred. Under Illinois law, a motorist owes a duty of care to any pedestrians walking within the crosswalk on a public roadway. However, any pedestrians traveling outside of that crosswalk are not permitted users of the public roadway and therefore are not owed a duty of care.

In fact, those pedestrians walking outside of a crosswalk should in fact yield to traffic. This is based on the premise that streets are to be used by vehicles and that pedestrians are only allowed on them under limited circumstances. Therefore, it was actually Longo who had the duty of care, not the bus driver. And because the bus video clearly demonstrated that Longo was not only outside of the crosswalk at the time of the bus accident, but had entered it quickly and with her head down, the appellate court ruled that she had not fulfilled her duty of care. Thus the trial court’s decision was upheld and the case remained dismissed.

Kreisman Law Offices has been handling Illinois bus accident lawsuits for individuals and families for more than 35 years in and around Chicago, Cook County and surrounding areas, including Bridgeview, Elk Grove Village, Chicago’s Streeterville, Calumet City, Winnetka, and Willowbrook.

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