If you have heard the term “common carrier” but are not sure what it means, you might be surprised to learn that most people use common carriers without knowing it. When you travel on an airplane, you are using a common carrier. As FindLaw explains, common carriers are vehicles like buses, cabs, commercial airliners or just about any privately owned mode of transportation that ferries a person in California from one location to another.
The identification of a vehicle as a common carrier has important legal implications. For one thing, common carriers operate under certain government regulations. In the case of airplanes, they fall under the jurisdiction of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). If a passenger on a plane is injured due to negligence in enforcing FAA regulations, the airline could end up in serious legal trouble.
However, even if specific regulations do not come into play, the fact remains that common carriers should exercise due diligence in protecting the safety of their passengers. For instance, passengers should be notified of what to do on a plane during turbulent situations. A failure to communicate this information could result in liability if passengers are hurt.
Keep in mind that liability due to negligence will depend on whether the carrier reasonably should have known that injury could happen if certain actions were not taken. In some cases, a common carrier may cause injuries due to a faulty mechanical component in the vehicle. If so, the manufacturer of the part could be held liable.
Negligence may still come into play when it comes to faulty airplane components. For example, a prior inspection of an airplane may have concluded that an old mechanical part should be replaced, yet the people in charge of the craft ignored the recommendation. Inspection records may have also recommended other forms of maintenance that went unheeded.
In short, common carriers have the responsibility of giving their passengers a safe trip to their destination. Since legal issues with common carriers vary widely, do not take this article as legal advice. It is only written to educate readers on product liability topics.