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What is a 'common carrier'?

A common carrier is a business or corporation that transports goods or people from one place to another and gets paid for it. This includes commercial airplanes, tour buses, school buses, commercial buses, cruise ships and taxis, just to name a few.

When a common carrier is sued by the victim of an accident, the lawsuit is often successful because of claims of willful acts or negligence. In order to prove a negligence claim, a standard of "reasonableness" must be met. In other words, a bus driver exercising reasonable care is expected to obey traffic laws, not operate the bus in dangerous maneuvers and to stop at places that are reasonably safe for passengers.

Multiple entities could be found liable in a bus accident if they are partially at fault for an injury-causing accident. This is called contributory negligence. If someone is injured on a chartered tour bus, the issue of liability can become even more complicated. A tour bus injury lawsuit often includes the following named as defendants:

-- Bus company: The company that owns the bus must only hire properly licensed drivers. Even so, a driver who is negligent can expose the company to liability.

-- Tour company: If a bus company is hired that doesn't have a good safety record and there is an accident, those who are injured may hold the tour company liable for not choosing a bus company with a better safety record.

-- Destinations: There are usually several stops made on a chartered bus trip. If a passenger injures him or herself at one of the locations, the tour company could be held liable for not making sure the stop was safe for passengers.

As you can see, there are many entities who could be held liable in the event of an accident that causes injury to a passenger.

Source: FindLaw, "Tour Bus Accidents and Liability," accessed Jan. 14, 2016

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