California Common Carrier Laws

California Common Carrier Laws

Every year thousands of passengers suffer serious injuries while on board buses operated by public transportation entities, charter bus companies, and private bus lines. Under general common law ruled codified under California civil statutes, operators of public and private mass transit systems owe their passengers a heightened level of care.

Who is a Common Carrier Under the Eyes of the Law – California Laws

There are several factors that require analysis before an entity can be considered a common carrier under the law.

  1. The stated or intended purpose of the established entity or corporation is to transport individuals or goods (products) from one location to another.
  2. The entity promoted itself to the general public as being a transportation based company
  3. There is a set standard of fees as consideration for the transportation of individuals from one location to another.

Note: Transportation entities do not need to have a fixed schedule of departure or arrival to be considered common carriers. For example chartered buses, or tour buses often do not have a set schedule. Under California personal injury laws and court decisions, common carriers include

  • Taxi Cabs
  • Buses – Including public transportation and private chartered tour buses and casino buses
  • Escalators and elevators – including shopping malls, apartment buildings, and office buildings
  • Train operators
  • Ski lifts

Negligence Cause of Action – How to Prove Your Cases in the Court of Law:

According to California Law, Negligence is established when a liable party fails in a manner expected of a reasonably prudent person acting under similar circumstances. There are four general elements which need to be established under a negligence cause of action:
A Duty of Care is owed to the plaintiff under circumstances where

  1. The responsible party breach their duty of care to the injured party (plaintiff)
  2. The defendant was the actual and proximate cause of the plaintiff’s damages and
  3. The plaintiff actually suffered some harm (psychological or physical) as a result of the defendants negligence.

Statute of Limitation for Filing a Lawsuit: Generally a plaintiff has two years from the date of an accident to file a personal injury cause of action against an at fault party. There is a 180 day (6month) deadline for plaintiffs who have suffered injuries while on-board common carriers owed by public entities (ie city or sate government) to file a claim. Failure to file a claim within the 6 month deadline with the proper public transportation authority will bar a victim from recovery. In some circumstances California civil courts will allow for a tolling (ie halting) of the statute of limitations. Some of the most common reasons include

  • Mental of physical incapacitation of the victim
  • Minor status of the injured person – A person under the age of 18 has two years from her 18th birthday to file a personal injury cause of action
  • The injury did not manifest itself until a later time after an accident

What forms of Compensation are Available: Victims of personal injury have a right to monetary recovery for all their losses associated with the negligent conduct resulting in the accident. The right to compensation extends to

  • All medical expenses
  • All future medical expenses
  • Cost of rehabilitation
  • Cost of life care if a victim is disabled from the accident
  • Lost wages
  • Future loss or reduction of income
  • Pain and suffering
  • Punitive damage – where the defendant displays an intent to harm or reckless disregard for the health and safety of other.

More information: If you have any further legal questions regarding an accident claim feel free to contact our law offices. (855)385-2529.

More information:

Bus Accident Lawsuits

Train Accident Lawsuits

Taxi Cab Liability for Accidents

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