Three Things You Should Know About Common Carrier Liability in California

orlando-leon-390504-copy-200x300What is a Common Carrier?

In California, a common carrier is a transportation company that transports people, goods, or property around the state. A transportation company that wants to be labeled a common carrier must meet the following requirements:

  • The reason the transportation company was established was to transport people or goods from one place to another
  • The transportation company sets itself out to the public as a transportation company
  • The transportation company charges a fee to transport people or goods from one place to another

Common carriers can include all forms of transportation, including buses, taxis, trains, planes, cruise ships, elevators/escalators, ski lifts, and even amusement parks.

Three Things You Should Know About Common Carrier Liability in California

  1. Common carriers are subject to a higher standard of care.

In California, common carriers are subject to a higher standard of care than other automobile operators. In fact, California law states that common carriers “must use the utmost care and diligence for their safe carriage, must provide everything necessary for that purpose, and must exercise to that end a reasonable degree of skill.” Specifically, common carriers must adhere to all of the following guidelines:

  • Provide a safe vehicle to passengers that is fit for the duties it was hired to perform
  • Treat passengers with civility and give them a reasonable level of attention
  • Warn passengers of any known dangers
  • Protect passengers from any dangers, including dangers caused by other passengers
  • Drive smoothly and not make any sharp turns or erratic movements
  • Carefully screen employees and provide them with adequate training
  • Regularly perform safety inspections and maintenance on the vehicle
  • Make sure all equipment is up to current safety standards
  1. There can be numerous parties involved in an accident involving a common carrier.

It is not always immediately clear who is at fault in an accident involving a common carrier because there can be unseen parties that are at fault for an accident they did not personally witness. The list below provides a few examples of unseen parties that can be liable for an accident involving a common carrier:

  • Bus company
  • Bus owner
  • Maintenance company
  • Manufacturer of bus
  • School board (in case of school bus)
  • Local government
  • State government
  1. It can be quite difficult to determine who was at fault in an accident involving a common carrier.

The number of unseen parties involved in an accident involving a common carrier certainly contributes to the difficulty in determining fault, but the number of different types of accidents that can occur is a contributing factor, as well. Below is a list of some of the most common causes of bus accidents in California:

  • Drowsiness and falling asleep behind the wheel
  • Alcohol and substance abuse
  • Distracted driving
  • Lack of adequate training
  • Defective equipment
  • Poor maintenance
  • Bad road and weather conditions

Contact a Santa Rosa or San Francisco Personal Injury Attorney Today

The attorneys at Willoughby Brod have years of experience fighting for the rights of victims of bus or other common carrier accidents. Our main mission is to make you feel whole again after being injured in an accident, and we will not stop trying until you have gotten what you want. If you have been injured in an accident involving a common carrier, contact us at (800) 427-7020 or visit us online to schedule your free consultation.  

(image courtesy of Orlando Leon)