I am a former livery company owner who managed my fleet of commercial vehicles for public services. My staff of Los Angeles common carrier accident lawyers and I are experts in all facets of California personal injury laws involving safe carriage.
With personal attention, we have handled many transit accidents involving serious injuries and wrongful death in the greater Los Angeles area.
In the process, Ehline Law Firm’s phenomenal team has recovered over $150 million for satisfied clients. Below I will discuss California’s common carrier laws, law enforcement, the different types of common carriers, and driver duties to avoid motor vehicle accidents.
In the end, I will throw in some accident victim bonus information for commuters seeking legal advice and compensation. If you’ve read enough, are suffering, and wish to form an attorney-client relationship, but remain unsure of your rights, get a free consultation today. There is no risk to accident victims or initial charge. We’ll listen well, formulate an opinion, and relay our strategy.
All serious injuries in mass transit accidents are handled by our law firm on a contingency fee basis. Accident victims trust our concierge service from our Southern California powerhouse of top transportation accident lawyers.
Our loose, worldwide consumer attorneys association remains unrivaled in knowledge, skill, humility, and charisma. Pick up your phone and call for an appointment at (213) 596-9642 24/7. Make your accident claim with top national trial lawyers today.
Sudden stops, blowing traffic signals, missing regular schedules all give rise to common carrier liability in your individual case. If you or a loved one was harmed in a mass transit accident, you might feel assured that our attorneys have previously handled cases similar to yours. We’ve obtained more million-dollar settlements and judgments than many prominent, national trial attorneys. We take complicated, complex multi-million-dollar lawsuits daily.
A thorough investigation is essential in bus accident situations with severe injuries. Investigators will be hired by a Los Angeles personal injury lawyer to visit the collision scene as soon as possible after it occurred.
Time is of the essence. Tire skid marks and debris can be swept away in a brief period. Also, the at-fault party who caused the dangerous conditions may tamper with evidence.
However, an accident reconstruction expert might gather evidence and assist the cops in writing an accurate account if they arrive at the scene early enough.
Other professionals who could be engaged to assist in the development of a solid case and give testimony in a common carrier accident lawsuit include:
In addition, the plaintiff must submit medical documents to demonstrate the severity and extent of their injuries.
We understand what you’re going through and can help you get through it. Following a mass transit accident, your life might change dramatically and perhaps permanently.
You are entitled to seek fair compensation if someone else’s careless or reckless negligence caused your injuries under California personal injury laws.
As we noted above, anytime you pay a travel professional for a ticket to ride a Catalina-Flyer, a Princess Cruise, or Palos Verdes Whale Watching boat, they are called a common carrier. The same applies to trucking companies delivering goods.
The differences are duties and to whom they are owed. A trucker does not owe the general public a higher duty, but if the trucker is also transporting passengers, they owe their passengers this higher standard to avoid a truck crash.
This is because a common carrier is
“a person who, as a regular business, undertakes to transport persons or property from place to place for the general public using its own conveyance, including an aircraft, limousine, taxi, cruise ship, passenger bus, tram, train, or even a hot air balloon.”
For example, Uber and Lyft drivers can owe a higher duty to occupants when they are taking fares.
Let’s look at California Civil Instructions (CACI) Jury Instruction 902:
“Duty of Common Carrier”
Common carriers must carry passengers [or property] safely. Common carriers must use the highest care and the vigilance of a very cautious person. They must do all that human care, vigilance, and foresight reasonably can do under the circumstances to avoid harm to passengers [or property]. While a common carrier does not guarantee the safety of its passengers [or property that it transports], it must use reasonable skill to provide everything necessary for safe transportation, given the transportation used and the practical operation of the business.” (See also, California Civil Code Section 2100).
A common carrier is generally a professional who owes their passenger a happy experience using a heightened duty of care, providing a safe passenger because they purchased a ticket or boarding. This is someone with above-average skill and training, uniquely designed to keep people safe on a trip.
A land-based company’s heightened duty is different from a cruise liner’s duty for a serious accident. (Shipping Act of 1984, 46 U.S.C. §1702(6)).
According to the courts, professional common carriers taking a passenger somewhere must use a heightened and more profound care level. A non-professional, private person still must act reasonably safely, but not with professional standards.
Professional people owe the public a higher standard because they are hired for their unique skill or individual transportation license. Even if you get hurt and the common carrier you hired was not negligent in providing the requested services, some companies are still on the hook for medical bills and other damages if someone suffered injuries in a head-on collision, for example.
A cruise ship is classified as more of a quasi-common carrier when compared to land-based tort law rules. Certain admiralty maritime laws acknowledge that ranking officers can only be at fault for dangers reasonably known to them or their crew, even wrongful death.
In some cases, yes. The cruise ship must pay for things they control, including lost, stolen, or damaged cargo belonging to one of their passengers. (strict liability).
But if hostile pirates stole or destroyed some luggage or the ship’s passage-contract document waives their liability for property damage or loss, victims may be denied any financial indemnification.
Breach of bailment may work with parking garages, but it’s a different story with cruise lines.
Admiralty maritime and contract law this is why the injured party can be barred from suing the ship. An accident victim must sue a common carrier defendant by following special rules involving sea and waterway cases.
Although maritime law rules regarding vicarious liability compare to “tort law,” admiralty courts have held the cruise lines “strictly liable” to pay a passenger. The rule applies when a guest is intentionally attacked by a crewmember or ship employee.
Why that is the case is because the ocean liner’s greater liability stems from the captains’ ancient duties in charge of a sea ship.
Some jurisdictions don’t use the traditional land-based foreseeability test rules, instead favoring holding cruise lines “strictly liable” or “absolutely liable” to pay for the personal injuries to passengers caused by a crewmember in some instances.
For this reason, when a crewmember has intentionally or recklessly directed bodily harm against a passenger, these courts say master and servant liability is established as a matter of law.
When a cruise line employee hurts a passenger while they are ashore, such as an assault while sightseeing on a shore excursion, liability is also said to be “strict.”
But in medical negligence cases, most courts do not hold the ship liable to pay for damages caused by the ship’s doctor.
The cruise line you hired to transport you owes you a legal duty to behave responsibly by acting like: “a reasonably careful ship operator.”
News stories tell us of health scares, pandemics, poisonings, and passengers falling overboard. And this is why the cruise operator must use care to thwart a food-borne illness, halt contamination, and even take action to mop liquid off the slippery deck. Suppose the ship’s officers who commanded the vessel during the accident reasonably could have avoided harming a passenger.
Many courts will follow the Jones Act, using it to protect passengers and sailors injured in another type of serious accident during sea travel. Your lawyer may plead strict liability as a legal theory in some actions to help prosecute your case.
But when someone who hurts you is not a common carrier, how can you force them to pay you for your serious accident? Most land-based common carriers are generally not held strictly liable for a passenger rape or assault by their employee.
Two methods remain available for lawyers wanting to pursue damages against regular defendants for a serious or accident or intentional act.
CAVEAT: A cruise passenger must abide by their passage contract. And this is why when they refuse to follow these steps, they will be waiving or surrendering a valuable right to sue later in court. A victim must take steps to file and settle the damages claim within six months of being hurt based upon the terms and conditions of the passage contract. If the claimant is rebuffed or unable to settle, a lawyer must immediately file a legitimate California lawsuit. If you sue in sunny Florida, you may find out you sued in the wrong court after your time to sue has expired.
Did a less than admirable lawyer file your lawsuit somewhere else? If so, it may already be too late. You will need to sue your attorney for professional negligence.
Princess will refuse to settle the most serious accident cases except when your lawyer meets them on the courthouse steps. This is why our superlative lawyers almost always file those cases in a Los Angeles Superior Court near you.
Common carriers in the air on land and sea can owe you a special duty of care. Examples include tri-hull tour ships, speed boats selling paid paragliding rides. But keep in mind that not all vacations offer a breathtaking experience.
And since the victim is paying to be treated right, courts have held that ocean-going liners have heightened liability rules, as we previously discussed.
Now that you understand skippers, sea captains, and crews’ obligations to their paying passengers, we will define a few other examples involving private and public transportation in Los Angeles County.
Yes, victims can make these defendants pay you when they have breached their special duty to transport the plaintiff safely.
Limousines, trains, limo-buses, taxis, municipal city buses, charter party buses, tour buses, Uber vehicles, Lyft Vehicles, and 18 occupant vans can all be common carriers for a fare. These are the companies that must treat customers better.
Our expertly trained personal injury attorneys sue companies like this on behalf of serious accident victims for the workplace and their third party caused injuries. Besides getting clients the most money, our attorneys show the victims empathy and caring resolve.
A common carrier is anyone who flies people on a propellor-driven airplane, a jet aircraft, or a helicopter for money. (Ex: A helicopter pilot charging someone money for a fun flight). A superior injury lawyer will argue that person flying you is a common carrier owing you a special duty because of their unique skill. These licensed persons and organizations must take steps to keep clients safe by preventing serious accidents when transporting others.
Here’s How: Common carriers owe peculiar duties to passengers, including maintaining higher commercial liability insurance policy, professional training, proper licensing, and closely supervising drivers, captains, and chauffeurs.
Common carriers must take steps to physically inspect, discover, and repair unsafe conditions to protect their traveling passengers who ride in their private, commercial fleets.
This is why public transportation, including municipal bus companies and taxpayer-subsidized commuter trains, usually owe their passengers the same special duties to avoid a serious accident.
For example, train companies must regularly inspect their miles of tracks and railroad ties for defects and other problems. When they don’t take reasonable steps to protect their paid customers, this is when someone gets hurt.
Commercial vehicles must purchase greater than standard liability insurance to protect themselves and other people from a serious accident while navigating the roads.
Purchasing minimum liability insurance is required to drive on the roads and to register a private motor vehicle. Having good insurance means you are a financially responsible person with more coverage than the law requires.
Buying the coverage now can help you pay for causing injuries to someone in a future crash later. The more people a vehicle carries, the higher the insurance coverage required.
For this reason, the commercial liability insurance coverages purchased will be different depending on the type of vehicle being covered.
The process of getting paid in a commercial vehicle accident depends mainly on whether these legal requirements were satisfied and by hiring the best lawyers who will do what is necessary to nourish the attorney-client relationship and maximize your result.
Compliance with the rules to purchase commercial insurance is a condition precedent for offering transportation services to the public. Bus companies, locomotives, and limousines must satisfy self-insurance or other bonding requirements.
Buying the right commercial insurance policy helps people with valid claims receive payments for medical expenses and other things caused by the at-fault vehicle’s driver or another party.
Multiple lawyers representing multiple parties will probably be making claims against the same insurance policy as your lawyer. The person with the best representation could easily take a larger share of the insurance proceeds in that case.
Having proper legal representation is vital because it helps pay for the considerable injuries arising from the accident. Having the right law firm by your side assures the victim will receive the largest portion of the insurance proceeds instead of the co-plaintiffs.
RECAP: Private and paid forms of transportation are available to consumers.
A higher level of care and service called a “special duty” is required of any public bus company that transports passengers. In contrast, a lesser, “reasonable duty” of care is owed by someone giving you a lift in a private conveyance.
This same rule we saw above will generally apply to the private aircraft or while riding in a friend’s boat, the same as it would apply to a privately-owned car. A private vehicle’s operator owes someone zero duty as a common carrier on the roads.
However, he or she must still act with prudence and exercise safety when they operate their vehicle. When a person driving a car down the road is negligent or reckless, no matter what type of duty is owed by them, the bad driver must pay their fair share of money damages when someone gets hurt.
Excellent lawyers will carefully read the policy’s available insurance coverages and exclusions and seek other defendants who may be liable to pay for their share. These are just a few steps in recovering compensation for serious accident-related personal injuries.
What makes the defendant’s status important to your personal injury attorney is the duty element of negligence. Under California negligence law, you can’t get paid compensation in an ordinary car accident case unless you prove every element of negligence, which is:
Under common carrier liability, the bus drivers and ship captains owe a special duty of care to get you there in one piece. A limo driver or school bus driver has special training and licensing. These people are in a special position of dominance over you and your luggage.
As such, if you’re a fare-paying customer, proving special duty and moving into the damages phase of your verdict or settlement is far easier for a victim.
It is said the first element, duty, is almost presumed in cases against a common carrier. This obviously gives you an advantage in dealing with liability insurance companies and government agencies as a plaintiff’s lawyer.
Yes, your lawyer still needs to prove the defendant caused your injuries. But having proven duty, you are one step closer to fair compensation when the defendant is a common carrier.
Public transportation is utilized by millions of people every day without their even knowing it – in fact, more than 31 million individuals utilize public transportation in the Los Angeles area each week.
A significant number of individuals will be affected by a sudden mass transit incident. Because of the large numbers of people involved, major transportation accidents frequently result in serious or deadly injuries to numerous passengers as well as fatalities.
There are two main types of roadway public conveyances in Los Angeles, California:
What do you mean by a common carrier under California laws?
Before an organization is labeled a common carrier, the following factors are considered:
Some of the recognized common carriers are:
Common carrier accidents are not a usual happening, but still, they can happen to anyone anytime. Because mass transit vehicles often involve public and privately-owned mass transit vehicles, these cases can prove complex and involve different legal standards and statutes of limitations.
Our law firm adheres to these standards and knows how to show a jury when a carrier has fallen short in its duty.
As Los Angeles personal injury attorneys, we want to protect our client’s rights after a severe common carrier accident. Our objective is to ensure that future passengers are as safe as possible while using common carriers.
Common carriers transport many passengers and have a heightened responsibility to:
Suppose a typical carrier firm fails to follow safety standards and fulfill its responsibilities as stated above. In that case, there’s a chance they will be involved in a common carrier accident.
Any individual who is hurt in a common carriage incident has the right to seek compensation and damages for injuries incurred as a result of the accident.
The negligence of a common carrier may be shown by proof that the law was broken or that the bus driver or train conductor acted unreasonably in his endeavor to avoid an accident.
Transportation accidents have the ability to inflict significant and long-lasting damage. During the procedure, the victim may suffer from disabilities, loss of income, medical expenditures, and rehabilitation expenses. In unfortunate circumstances of mistaken death, there will be medical, funeral, and burial expenses to cover. In these cases, you may need money to pay all of your obligations.
The at-fault party must be identified and evidence of their negligence presented to support the claim. This is why you should contact a professional Los Angeles common carrier accident lawyer as soon as possible after an accident.
At Ehline Law Firm, we have the dedication and resources to assist us in re-creating the accident, determining what caused it, and identifying those who are to blame. Most importantly, we’ll construct a strong case for you to receive the highest feasible compensation. For a free initial consultation, contact us immediately.
When it comes to public transportation disasters, determining who is to blame may be difficult. In these situations, there are numerous contributing parties.
Let’s examine some reasons for public and private transportation accidents in Los Angeles:
Other people or entities other than the driver might be held liable in a crash, assault, or other passenger injuries under the vicarious liability theory. The bus company, bus owner, maintenance firm, school board, equipment maker, state and local authorities are all potential liabilities.
Let’s look at some examples of stupid things common carriers might do:
When a passenger gets off the vehicle and is no longer exposed to the risks of its operations, their duty of care terminates. After the bus departs, liabilities may continue to grow since wrecks can also happen at a bus station.
As a result, it is the responsibility of a bus firm to keep its bus stops and taxi stands in good working order. The commercial vehicle driver must come to a safe stop where passengers may get on and off the livery vehicle.
They should depart and arrive at the bus as soon as possible to avoid injuring passengers boarding or alighting.
In the situation of an accident, there are several reasons why commercial transport businesses, proprietors, and drivers might be released from their responsibility. For example, this may apply in the instance that the accident was caused by natural circumstances such as bad weather.
Common carriers are not responsible for other situations, such as copyright infringement, robbery, carjacking, freight abandonment, or passenger carelessness. Piracy and other similar acts may or may not fall outside the realm of common carriers.
The most significant degree of care that a bus firm must exercise is for paying passengers on the bus. The next, lower duty of care is the driver’s duty of reasonable care for other road users. This might include motorists, bicyclists, motorcyclists, and pedestrians.
Buses and taxis are treated the same as cars when it comes to traffic regulations. The bus driver, for example, must be cautious if they suspect there are pedestrians in the vicinity. Slowing down and focusing all of your attention on the road may be one way to demonstrate such diligence and care.
The laws governing personal injury claims are intricate, which is why you should seek the assistance of a transportation injury lawyer. When making a claim following these occurrences, you are most likely doing so against a large corporation or a government agency.
The procedure for obtaining a judgment against an at-fault automobile driver differs significantly from bringing a lawsuit against a vehicle accident victim. Specific deadlines and legal criteria may be in place, so you’ll want someone on your side that understands how to deal with them.
Buses and trains frequently cause significant damage. Although a lot of California personal injury attorneys have handled hundreds of minor injuries claims, this does not imply that they know how to assist consumers with severe injuries.
Catastrophic injuries might result in long-term disabilities and necessitate extended medical treatment. The long-term effects and losses that victims face frequently result in millions of dollars in compensation.
You need an attorney who has previously handled a comparable case and is ready to represent you with claims worth so much money.
We concentrate our practice on the most difficult injury claims to give each client complete attention. Frequently, our company has obtained multi-million-dollar settlements and rewards.
As a result, our trial lawyer has additional financial resources for future clients. Insurance companies and other legal firms have recognized that we go above and beyond in order to care for our clients.
We at Ehline Law have handled numerous cases against transportation firms with over 30 combined years of legal experience. We handle cases involving small motor vehicles, buses, trains, and airplanes under California law.
These service providers are accountable for an accident and must be held responsible for any fatalities or injuries caused. For a free, informal consultation, call us at (213) 596-9642 now.
Michael is a managing partner at the nationwide Ehline Law Firm, Personal Injury Attorneys, APLC. He’s an inactive Marine and became a lawyer in the California State Bar Law Office Study Program, later receiving his J.D. from UWLA School of Law. Michael has won some of the world’s largest motorcycle accident settlements.
Check out our most recent wrongful death law blog posts about the famous, infamous and everyday people wounded by at fault parties around the world.