California state law defines a common carrier as a transportation company that transports people, goods, or property around the state. In order to be considered a common carrier, a company must meet three requirements:
- The transportation company was established to transport people or goods from one location to another;
- The transportation company holds itself out to the public as a transportation company; and
- The transportation company charges a fee for moving people or goods from one location to another.
While you may think of common carriers are buses, trains, planes, and taxis, so too are ski lifts, cruise ships, elevators, escalators, and even amusement parks.
Held to a Higher Standard of Care
California holds its common carriers to a higher standard of care than other automobile operators. In fact, the law states that they “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.” This standard of care includes the following:
- Warning passengers of any known dangers
- Protecting passengers from any dangers
- Treating passengers civilly and with a reasonable amount of attention
- Utilizing only safe vehicles that are made for their purpose
- Avoiding sharp turns or other dangerous movements
- Conducting maintenance and inspections on a regular basis
- Ensuring that all equipment meets current safety standards
Who May Be Liable in a Common Carrier Accident?
After an accident occurs in which a common carrier is involved, it’s not always perfectly clear as to who is at fault. This is often because those liable may not have even been present for the accident. Parties that may have liability in a common carrier accident include:
- Maintenance companies
- Local/state government
- School board (when it is a school bus accident)
Additionally, since many different factors may have contributed to a common carrier accident, determining liability becomes even more difficult. Common factors in California common carrier accidents include:
- Impaired drivers (alcohol or other substance abuse)
- Distracted driving
- Drowsy driving (e.g. falling asleep at the wheel)
- Lack of adequate training for drivers/operators
- Poor maintenance
- Defective equipment
- Poor road or weather conditions
Contact a Qualified Personal Injury Attorney
If you or a loved one has been injured in a common carrier accident, it’s important to consult with a qualified California personal injury attorney who can impact the outcome of your case.
At the Law Offices of David P. Kashani, our experienced California personal injury lawyers work strategically to help our clients obtain just compensation. When you become our client, you will have peace of mind knowing that our legal team is on your side. We will guide you through all aspects of your personal injury claim and make sure that your interests are protected. To learn more or to schedule a free consultation, call us today!