Common Carrier Liability

The Federal government has created regulations regarding the liability to passengers injured while using a common carrier. A common carrier is one who represents to the public that its business is one of transporting persons or cargo from place to place for compensation. Generally, commercial buses, ferries, trains, and airplanes are considered common carriers. There are some exceptions to this definition, such as with certain airplanes, vessels, "scenic railroads," or private charter transportation. In most situations, a common carrier is generally required to use the highest degree of care, diligence, and vigilance in the transport of its passengers to the appropriate destination. The carrier must have the necessary equipment and a reasonable degree of skill to carry out the transportation of passengers.

In Pennsylvania, a common carrier must use the utmost care and diligence for the safe carriage of its passengers, must provide everything necessary for that purpose, and must exercise to that end a reasonable degree of skill. This duty requires a common carrier to do all that human care, vigilance, and foresight reasonably can do under the circumstances. It includes protecting passengers from assaults by others, including fellow passengers when the common carrier knows or should know that an assault is about to occur. Common carriers are not, however, insurers of their passengers' safety. Rather, the degree of care and diligence that they must exercise is only such as can reasonably be exercised consistent with the character and mode of conveyance adopted and the practical operation of the business of the carrier.


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