You're driving on the highway, or perhaps taking the bus from school to home, when suddenly a car or bus cuts off your car. The driver doesn't see you. You feel your car wobble.
After a jolt, you pull over to the shoulder, scared, angry, and confused. What just happened?
You realize there are two types of vehicles on the road:
A common carrier is an individual or business that transports people, goods, or services for a fee and offers its people services under license or authority provided by a governmental regulatory body. Common carriers can be private companies or public entities.
Both the Federal and State governments regulate common carriers. These laws are regulated on the local, state, and federal levels.
The Federal government regulates common carriers that transport passengers or cargo across state lines under the Interstate Commerce Act, and each state regulates travel within a state.
Alternatives to an automobile include traveling by foot, bus, taxi, train, light rail, trolley, cable car, tour boat, cruise ship, ferry, airplane, shuttle, or limousine.
Common carriers, such as bus or train companies, have a legal responsibility to show a higher duty of care since they offer their services to the public for a fee. These companies are sometimes referred to as "public carriers." Therefore, they are held to a higher standard of care than other drivers.
Therefore, if you are a passenger on a bus or train and get hurt as a result of an accident, even though as a non-commercial driver, you are required to operate your vehicle "concerning the safe operation of vehicles and the safety of persons using such vehicles," the common carrier is held to a higher level of duty. You are also required to operate your vehicle for the safety of others (other drivers). Common carriers must use the highest degree of care and vigilance for the safety of their passengers and the public.
If you or a minor child, disabled person, or someone who is physically ill are a passenger on a bus and you are injured as a result of the carrier's negligence, including speeding, fatigue, or maintenance failures, they may be liable for damages under personal injury tort law.
Standard common carrier laws must apply to public transportation to be reviewed before any legal claims may be filed. These laws often allow a *limited* period for filing these many cases. Therefore, you should consult an attorney with expertise in common carrier law to review your case and determine whether or not legal claims can be filed.