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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, and vehicles operated by rideshare companies. 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.

If you or a member of your family were injured in an accident that occurred while you were traveling in a bus or other vehicle that is considered to be a common carrier, you might have grounds to file an injury claim. To learn more about California common carrier laws and how they apply to you, do not hesitate to seek legal assistance with the experts at our firm as soon as possible.

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 some of the following:

  • 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
  • Rideshare companies – like Uber and Lyft

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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.

Rideshare Companies are Common Carriers

Unfortunately, there is a lot of confusion surrounding rideshare companies, their drivers, and the accidents that are bound to happen. Under California state law, rideshare drivers are considered common carriers; therefore, they owe their passengers the highest duty of care – just like bus drivers.

Because they are common carriers and owe their passengers the highest duty of care, they must always drive safely and follow all traffic rules/signs to ensure that they keep their passengers completely safe. When rideshare drivers cause accidents, they could be liable – and, in turn, the rideshare company could be liable. This means that affected rideshare passengers could sue the rideshare company for the harm resulting from their accidents.

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.

If you would like to learn more about California’s common carrier laws after being injured in a bus accident or a rideshare accident, do not hesitate to seek legal assistance with the experts at our firm immediately. Our personal injury lawyers are knowledgeable on common carrier laws and are ready to provide you with the guidance that you need to win. Do not hesitate to contact us immediately.

More information: If you have any further legal questions regarding an accident claim feel free to contact our law offices. (888) 649-7166. More information: Bus Accident Lawsuits Train Accident Lawsuits Taxi Cab Liability for Accidents

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