What to Do After Common Carrier Accidents - Adamson Ahdoot

California Legal Blog

What Is A Common Carrier Accident: Everything You Need to Know

March 30, 2023 Alan Ahdoot
Home » Blog » What Is A Common Carrier Accident: Everything You Need to Know

Many people rely on public carriers for convenient transportation. For this reason, common carriers must maintain the highest standard of care and vigilance to ensure passengers’ safety. 

But despite safety protocols in place, accidents still happen. In a collision, the driver, company, or relevant government entity is liable for personal injuries or damages. 

Have you or a loved one been involved in an accident with a common carrier? Here’s everything you need to know about these mishaps.

What is a Common Carrier Accident?

A common carrier is an entity that offers transportation services to the public under the authority of a regulatory body. These entities typically transport people or items, and the relevant regulators approve the common carrier’s rates, time schedules, and routes. 

Common carrier examples in Los Angeles, CA, include the following: 

  • Buses, taxis, and van pools
  • Cruise ships
  • Planes
  • Elevators, escalators, and movable walkways
  • Ski lifts and mule trains
  • Trains

In the United States, pipelines that transport carbon dioxide, oil, and gas can also qualify as common carriers under a license provided by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. 

This type of vehicular crash or accident involves entities that provide public transport in exchange for a fee. The impact can be fatal and catastrophic, especially since a bus or a train can carry hundreds of people in one go.

What is a Non-Common Carrier?

A non-common carrier is an entity that does not meet the definition requirements of a common carrier. For example, a car rental agency is a non-common carrier whose operations typically do not include the regular transport of people or goods. Instead, they rent vehicles out to third parties to operate.

A non-common or private carrier can also present as a company that offers transportation to its employees. Private carriers also must register with the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC).

Who Regulates Common Carriers, and How is it Done?

The CPUC regulates common carriers with laws such as the California Civil Code Section 2100, which holds common carriers to a higher standard of care than other transportation services. 

Other regulatory bodies also dictate which carriers fall into this category based on the mode of transportation. For example, commercial airlines operate under the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

Regulatory laws exist to mitigate the risk of accidents. According to these regulations, common carriers must exercise the care of duty while carrying out their operations to ensure the safety of those who rely on them daily.

In terms of these regulations, these entities must:

  • Refrain from driving erratically and making sudden starts or stops
  • Provide assistance and seating to elderly passengers
  • Maintain their equipment and keep it free from debris
  • Discharge passengers at safe places
  • Not overcrowd their vehicles

Common Causes of Carrier Accidents

According to the National Safety Council (NSC), common carrier accidents occur less often than passenger vehicle collisions

However, victims are more likely to suffer severe and even fatal injuries, particularly in airplane crashes or train accidents.

Below are the most common causes of carrier accidents:

Lack of Preventative Maintenance and Inspection

Part of the operator’s duty of care is to ensure that there are no faulty vehicle components. Routine inspections must be conducted before onboarding goods and passengers. 

For example, the common carrier will be responsible for a brake malfunction on a bus that causes an accident.

Failure to Follow Safety Protocols

In California, the state strictly enforces safety regulations to prevent any catastrophic collision involving public transportation

Failure to act with the utmost vigilance and diligence can harm passengers. Examples of negligent conduct include failing to warn passengers to put on their seatbelts, poor vehicle maintenance, and failing to subject new drivers to a vetting process.

Human Error

Most common carrier accidents happen due to mechanical or human error. Any mistake made by the operators is also their employer’s responsibility, and they’re subject to the same strict degree of care expected from the common carrier itself.

Common carriers are responsible for passengers from the time they accept the ride, throughout travel, and until the carrier has safely delivered their passengers or cargo to their specific destination. 

What to Do After Getting Involved in a Common Carrier Accident

a man standing on a helipad while a cargo plane lifts goods upon takeoff
Injured parties are subject to receive compensation after a common carrier accident.

Here’s what you need to do following a common carrier accident:

Seek Medical Attention for Your Injuries

The first thing you should do is to seek medication for your injuries. Consult a doctor and follow any prescribed tests or treatment plans. This may serve as evidence to bolster your personal injury case.

Collect Evidence at the Scene

If you’re still conscious after the accident, gathering evidence at the scene is necessary. This means taking photos or videos of the accident scene and any visible injuries. 

You should also interview witnesses to obtain relevant information from those who saw what happened. Get a copy of the police report, and inquire if the CCTV cameras on the scene caught the incident.

Hire a Personal Injury Attorney

After getting examined by a doctor and speaking with the police, we recommend seeking legal advice from an experienced personal injury lawyer

Your lawyer will build a strong case for you using all the evidence you gathered and negotiate a fair settlement if necessary. They’ll also legally represent you should the case go to court. 

Who is Liable for the Common Carrier Accident?

The carrier remains liable for damages if it’s been found that the carrier has been negligent. However, they are not insurers of the lives of the passengers. 

How to Prove Negligence

Victims of these accidents are entitled to compensation for the injuries and property damage they sustained if proven that the carrier was negligent. To prove negligence, the plaintiff must demonstrate the following:

  • There was a duty of care
  • The defendant’s inaction did not meet the standard of care set by the relevant regulations
  • The defendant suffered injuries that a reasonable person should foresee
  • Losses or injuries happened due to the defendant’s breach of duty

How are Victims Compensated for the Damages?

Injured parties may recover several types of damages such as:

  • Incurred and estimated future medical expenses
  • Damage to property
  • Pain and suffering
  • Loss of income, quality of life, and consortium
  • Disfigurement
  • Damages involving wrongful death

Common carrier accident insurance may cover fatal or non-fatal injuries. However, it does not include the workers’ or operators’ compensation insurance. 

Seek Legal Help from Adamson Ahdoot

If you or a loved one has suffered from a common carrier accident in California, don’t hesitate to seek legal assistance from our highly competent lawyers at Adamson Ahdoot. Call us at (800) 310-1606 to arrange a free consultation, so we can discuss your case.

Client-First Approach

Above all else, our clients come first. We go above and beyond to obtain the highest level of compensation possible.

Meet Our Attorneys

Multi-Focus Law Firm

Adamson Ahdoot has successfully executed a plethora of personal injury cases.

Cases We Handle

Get in touch with our firm

Our team can better advise you on your legal options once we receive any available evidence about the incident.

Take Action Now