If you have ever spent time on a bus, taxicab, 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. Even amusement parks may be considered common carriers in some states, such as California. Carriers may be held liable for the injuries of passengers, but only if the plaintiff can prove negligence.
Common Carrier Liability
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. For example, an airline may be held liable for a passenger's injuries if the pilot failed to turn on the fasten seatbelt sign after noticing heavy turbulence. But liability for failure to warn comes down to the question of whether a reasonably careful operator would have known or should have known about the dangerous condition.
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.
Common Carrier Accidents: The Importance of Evidence
In order to prove a carrier's fault in a negligence case, plaintiffs must show:
Since the legal theory of strict liability does not apply to common carriers, meaning the plaintiff must show a breach of the carrier's duty to the plaintiff, evidence typically plays a key role in a negligence claim. Potential evidence may be:
Injured on a Common Carrier? Get Legal Help Today
Accidents on common carriers are relatively uncommon, but can happen to anyone at any time. These types of claims range from a foodborne illness aboard a cruise ship to wrongful death associated with a downed jetliner. Attorneys can be costly, but often the cost of not having legal reprentation is much, much higher. Speak with a local personal injury lawyer specializing in common carrier claims to find out more about your legal options.
Contact a qualified personal injury attorney to make sure your rights are protected.