When does a transportation company’s duty of care begin and end? | Shapiro, Washburn & Sharp

A transportation company’s duty of care begins before the passenger even gets on the vehicle. A company’s duty of care for its passengers typically begins when the passenger enters the company’s designated area or vehicle for the purpose of transportation. The duty of care generally ends when the passenger reaches their intended destination or safely exits the company’s designated area or vehicle. However, the exact scope and duration of the duty of care can vary depending on various factors, such as the type of transportation, the specific circumstances, and applicable laws and regulations. The following are some key considerations regarding a transportation company’s duty of care for its passengers.

Boarding Process

Once a passenger enters the transportation company’s designated area, such as a station, terminal, platform, or bus stop, the duty of care generally begins. During the boarding process, the company has a responsibility to provide a safe and orderly environment, free from known hazards, to ensure the safety of passengers.

During Transportation

While the passenger is in transit, whether it’s on a bus, train, airplane, or other means of transportation, the transportation company has a duty to exercise reasonable care for the safety of the passengers. This includes providing a safe and well-maintained vehicle, properly trained and qualified staff, adherence to applicable safety regulations, and taking reasonable precautions to prevent foreseeable harm.

Passenger Safety

The transportation company has a duty to protect passengers from reasonably foreseeable risks and dangers during the journey. This includes ensuring that the vehicle is properly maintained, free from defects, and equipped with necessary safety features. The company should also take reasonable measures to prevent accidents, such as implementing safety protocols, providing clear instructions to passengers, and addressing any known security or safety concerns.

Special Considerations

In some cases, the duty of care may extend beyond the duration of the journey itself. For example, if a passenger requires assistance upon reaching their destination, the transportation company may have an obligation to ensure the passenger’s safe exit from the vehicle or designated area. Additionally, if a passenger has special needs or requires accommodation, the company may have a heightened duty of care to meet those needs and ensure their safety throughout the journey.

Unexpected Circumstances

The duty of care may also be influenced by unexpected events or circumstances. For instance, if a transportation company becomes aware of a potential threat or danger during the journey, they have a duty to respond appropriately and take reasonable measures to mitigate the risk and protect its passengers.

Communication and Information

The transportation company should provide passengers with necessary information regarding safety procedures, emergency exits, and any other relevant instructions or warnings. Clear communication with passengers helps ensure their understanding of safety measures and contributes to their overall safety.

Duty to Warn

In situations where the transportation company becomes aware of potential hazards or risks that could affect passenger safety, they have a duty to warn passengers promptly. This may include providing warnings about weather conditions, route changes, or other factors that could impact the safety of the journey.

It is important to note that the specific duty of care owed by a transportation company may be influenced by federal, state, or local laws and regulations. These regulations may impose additional requirements and obligations on transportation companies to ensure the safety of their passengers.

If you believe a transportation company has breached its duty of care, resulting in harm or injury to you as a passenger, it is advisable to consult with an experienced Virginia personal injury attorney. They can assess the specific circumstances of your case, determine the extent of the transportation company’s duty of care, and help you understand your legal options for seeking compensation.