A Public Transportation Injury happens every day, do you know what are your rights if you were injured while riding the bus, transportation van, taxicab, or the train?
Buses that travel on predetermined routes, dial-a-ride buses and transportation vans, trains, businesses that operate taxicabs, and persons that operate airplanes are called common carriers. In some cases, operators of amusement park rides and chairlift operators at ski resorts may also be considered common carriers.
What is a Common Carrier?
California law defines a “common carrier” as anyone who offers transportation to the general public for profit.
California law also places a high standard of care on common carriers. Under California law, a common carrier must use the highest care and diligence of a very cautious person when transporting passengers. It must do all that is necessary under the circumstances to avoid injury or harm to its passengers.
If a common carrier voluntarily accepts an ill or a disabled person as a passenger and is aware of that person’s condition, it must use as much additional care as is reasonably necessary to ensure the passenger’s safety, in view of the passenger’s physical condition.
A Common Carrier Must Not Overcrowd its Vehicle
Additionally, a common carrier must not overcrowd its vehicle, must travel at a reasonable rate of speed, must give to passengers all such accommodations as are usual and reasonable, must treat passengers with civility, and must give its passengers a reasonable degree of attention.
Passengers often sustain personal injuries while riding on common carriers. For example, passengers sometimes fall in buses because the bus takes off or stops abruptly and unexpectedly, or they sustain injuries because the bus gets into an accident with a passenger car, a motorcycle, a bicycle, or a pedestrian because the bus was traveling too fast or too close to another vehicle, or the bus hits the street curb because the driver made too close of a turn.
There are also examples of passengers sustaining personal injuries because the bus driver closed the bus doors on entering or exiting passenger. Depending on the circumstances, these acts can often result in injuries to riders, for which the bus company can be held responsible.
A Common Carrier’s Liability Cannot Be Limited
Sometimes, a common carrier will try to limit its liability by using signs, posters, and releases. A common carrier’s liability cannot be limited by a general notice, but it may be limited by a special contract between the carrier and its passenger. For example, a generic sign at a bus stop stating that the bus company assumes no responsibility for the safety of its passengers or injuries sustained as a result of riding the bus will generally not allow the bus company to escape liability if the bus company or its driver acts negligently.
What if you Signed a Release to Limit the Bus Company’s Liability?
On the other hand, if you sign a release to limit the bus company’s liability, such a release may be enforceable. However, it is important to note that such a release may be valid only if the bus company or its driver acted with ordinary negligence, but would generally not be valid if the bus company or its driver acted with gross negligence.
So, if you have been injured while riding on a bus, transportation van, train, plane, taxicab, or even an amusement park ride, you should contact a lawyer to review your options. This article strictly talks about California law. Federal law or laws in other states may differ.
This article is for educational purposes only and is not meant to serve as legal advice. You should always contact an attorney to discuss any legal matter.
If you have a personal injury case, such as an accident, slip and fall, dog bite, etc., and want to get an honest assessment of your case and be educated as to your options, please give us a call.