If you have ever spent time on a bus, taxi, commercial airplane, passenger train, or cruise ship, you have been on a common carrier. In the United States, a common carrier (or simply “carrier”) is an entity whose business transports people or goods from one place to another for a fee. Carriers may be held liable for the injuries of passengers, but only if the plaintiff can prove negligence.
Common carriers are held to a high standard of care for the persons and properties entrusted to them; and are limited to incidental damages for breach of duty. Liability is a big issue for buses, trucks, and taxicabs when collisions occur.
Since bus companies, truck companies, and taxi companies are aware of this, companies quickly respond when car crash/collisions occur.
Many states require by law that common carriers be inspected annually to protect people from hazards of operating poorly maintained vehicles. Carriers of passengers are liable for injuries suffered by passengers as a result of the carrier’s negligence, but are not an insurer of its passengers’ safety. This means that a common carrier is required to act with the utmost care, diligence, and skill to protect its passengers.
Carriers, such as tour buses and passenger jets, offer their services to the public under the authority of a regulatory body, which sets standards for safety and other passenger concerns. Commercial airlines, for example, must adhere to the regulations set forth by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). Regulations or not, carriers are required to exercise the highest degree of care and diligence in the safety of their passengers and/or cargo. The failure to warn passengers about a potentially dangerous condition also can expose carriers to legal action.
Therefore, a carrier can be sued for injuries for either failing to adhere to a particular regulation (if it was the cause of the injury) or failing to exercise the care and diligence that would be expected of a reasonably careful operator.
In order to prove a carrier’s fault in a negligence case, you must show:
- They owed you a duty (common carriers must exercise the utmost care and diligence with respect to their passengers).
- They breached that duty (such as failing to remove ice from the wings of an airplane that later made an emergency landing, causing injuries).
- The breach was the proximate cause of the your injury (if not for the breach, the injury would not have occurred).
- You suffered damages (usually physical injuries, but could also be emotional distress or loss of wages).
Be prepared to show evidence. Potential evidence may be:
- Expert witness testimony: You may use an expert witness to explain how an injury had to have been caused by the carrier’s supposed negligence, while the carrier also may use expert witnesses to prove they acted in a reasonable manner.
- Eyewitness testimony: A fellow passenger of a tour bus, for example, may have personally witnessed the bus driver sneaking drinks from a flask prior to an accident.
- Negligence per se: A cruise ship knowingly circumvents Coast Guard regulations, for instance, resulting in passenger injuries.
- Images: A photograph of a particularly steep and potentially dangerous staircase on a cruise ship, in the absence of signage warning passengers, might provide important evidence of a carrier’s failure to warn.
- Inspection records: If an airplane’s inspection records urge the installation of new landing gear, but the carrier ignores this, the carrier could be held liable for any injuries related to a landing gear failure.
If you or a loved one have been involved in a common carrier crash/collision because of another party’s negligent or reckless conduct, let us help. Our goal is to secure the compensation you deserve so that you can focus on your physical and emotional recovery. Contact us today.