Common Carriers: Your Rights in the Passenger’s Seat

Letting other people drive you around can sometimes be a disconcerting experience, especially in situations like taxis and limos, in which the driver is a complete stranger. Fortunately, the state of Virginia imposes extra duties on these types of transportation services, which the law refers to as common carriers. These duties come into play during situations in which a person suffers an injury while under the protection of a common carrier.

What Is a Common Carrier?

The law defines common carriers quite broadly. Generally speaking, any transportation service that opens itself to the public can qualify as a common carrier. This definition immediately calls to mind certain methods of transportation like planes, trains, taxis, and limousines, yet the courts do not limit the definition to just those more obvious instances.

What Extra Duty Does the Law Impose on Common Carriers?

The law increases the amount of care that common carriers must take with regard to their passengers. Ordinarily, the law only punishes people for negligently injuring others, but with common carriers, it punishes them for not taking “the highest degree of care consistent with the type of vehicle used in the practical operation of its business.” This care can come into play in many ways. For instance, the law requires common carriers to protect their passengers from each other, their employees, and third parties, if the carrier should have known that the passenger could be in danger.

Additionally, common carriers must take more precautions to keep passengers safe if they know that the person cannot keep themselves safe. For instance, a limo driver who knows that their passenger is intoxicated must take extra care to make sure they stay safe.

Of course, the law does not place these duties on common carriers with respect to everyone. Courts only impose this extra standard of care onto common carriers with respect to their passengers, which prompts the question of exactly who counts as a passenger. A person currently riding in the back of a taxi would clearly fall into the definition of passenger, but the court’s view encompasses even more.

Courts have held that anyone who is in the process of getting on or off a common carrier qualifies as a passenger. This includes people waiting in line to board a train, and people who just exited a taxicab and have not yet had “a reasonable opportunity to reach a place of safety.

If you have suffered an injury while under the protection of a common carrier, contact an experienced Chicago personal injury attorney today.

Let a Virginia Attorney Fight for You

If you have been injured as a result of an accident with a common carrier company, contact an experienced Virginia car accident attorney to find out what legal recourse you may have to collect for the damages you have suffered because of that injury. Call Shapiro, Washburn & Sharp to schedule a free and no-obligation consultation and learn what kind of financial compensation you may be entitled to.