What is Carrier Liability?
Liability is a key issue when common carriers, such as buses, trucks, and taxicabs, are involved in collisions. These carriers serve upon reasonable demand by those using their services. They are expected to uphold a high standard of care for the persons and properties they are entrusted with. Common carriers are also limited to incidental damages for breach of duty.
Because bus companies, truck companies, and taxicab companies know these issues, such enterprises quickly respond when accidents happen. On the other hand, an individual or individuals involved in an automobile accident, especially one who has been injured, may not immediately respond to such issues as liability. Such accidents may turn on a variety of causes: reckless driving, drunk driving, rollover accidents, tire blowouts, or inadequate maintenance are some examples. You also have pedestrians being hit or run over by vehicles.
Annual inspections of common carriers are required by a number of states to protect persons from the hazards of driving poorly maintained vehicles. Passenger carriers are liable for injuries suffered by passengers as a result of the carrier’s negligence. This means that a common carrier is required to act with the utmost care, diligence, and skill to protect its passengers, at least while they are in the vehicle.
The Iowa Supreme Court in 1995 took the case of whether a school bus owed additional duties to a child injured when he was hit by a car after safely departing the bus. The court did not extend the carrier’s duty to ensure extra safety of children leaving the school bus. It said the bus company had no obligation beyond that of a common carrier to protect children from dangers that may be reasonably and naturally anticipated. That is, once you have safely gotten out of a vehicle, the court deems that you are in a better position than your driver to guard your safety against moving vehicles.
Also, unless there is some other kind of negligence, the driver isn’t responsible for passenger injuries due to natural causes or causes beyond the driver’s control.