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Los Angeles area Bus Crashes: What is a "Common Carrier"?

Los Angeles area Bus Crashes: What is a "Common Carrier"?

A unique area of California tort law related to bus crashes involves “common carrier” law.

Sadly, this is not just theory, as the families of those killed in the devastating bus crash near Palm Springs are experiencing first hand.

So, what is a common carrier?

The recent Court of Appeal case of Huang v. The Bicycle Casino, Inc. offers an explanation.

In the case, The Bicycle Casino operated a shuttle bus to transport patrons from different regions to its casino.  On one such occasion, a patron named Jing Huang was injured boarding the bus when he was trampled while boarding.

Huang sued, arguing that the casino was liable for his injuries as “common carrier.” Common carriers are subject to stricter tort duties–they must do “all that human care, vigilance, and foresight reasonably can do under the circumstances.”

The Court explained that there’s a difference when a mode of transportation is offered for “reward” or not.  That is, the California Civil Code holds that the degree of care owed to patrons differs if patrons pay for the transportation.

Factors that that bear on whether a party is a common carrier include 1) whether the party maintained an established place of business for the purpose of transporting passengers; 2) whether the party engaged in transportation as a regular business and not as a casual or occasional undertaking; 3) whether the party advertised its transportation services to the general public; and 4) whether the party charged standard rates for its service. (CACI 901.)

In this case, the Court agreed that Bicycle Casino was a common carrier.  Even though the crux of its business is in casino operations, the shuttle to and from the casino was enough to bring the casino into the stricter duty of care owed by all common carriers in California.

For questions about your Los Angeles area bus or shuttle crash case, the Rabbi Lawyer is ready to assist, 24/6!