Earlier this month, 10 people were hospitalized after receiving minor injuries when the ferry in which they were riding in the San Francisco Bay struck a piling at a pier. The accident occurred at 6 p.m. on October 12, and the ferry was carrying 230 passengers. The accident was described as a very strong jolt that knocked some people off their feet. Those who were injured are suffering mild to moderate neck and back injuries. It’s unclear why the boat backed into the piling. The Coast Guard said there were no mechanical issues, and the boat was cleared to go back into service.

Unfortunately, accidents involving public transportation, such as this ferry accident, are on the rise in California. It’s not uncommon for the operator of a taxi, bus, light rail train, Amtrak train, airplane, or another type of public transportation, to be involved in an accident. When a passenger is hurt while using public transportation, the company providing the service may be liable for the passenger’s injuries. The providers of public transportation are legally called common carriers.

Anyone who transports passengers for hire is a common carrier. This includes transportation owned by a city or county, such as buses or light rail trains, as well as privately owned transportation companies, such as airlines, taxis, private charter buses and tour buses.

Under California law, common carriers are held to a higher standard of care than other drivers on the roads. California law provides that common carriers must use the utmost care and diligence for passengers’ safety, must provide everything necessary for that purpose, and must exercise a reasonable degree of skill. Therefore, common carriers in California must safely transport passengers, must take steps to keep passengers safe, must provide a safe place for passengers to enter and exit the vehicle, and must hire qualified employees.

When a common carrier fails to properly exercise those duties, and a passenger is harmed as a result, the common carrier can be held legally liable. Some common reasons that common carrier accidents occur is that the drivers are tired and overworked, drivers are improperly trained, or the equipment is improperly maintained.

Common carriers have a high duty to closely supervise its employees, as well as to properly train them. If drivers do not properly perform their duties, a common carrier must discipline or terminate that driver, in order to prevent accidents from occurring in the future. Common carriers also must maintain the safety of their equipment and vehicles. The vehicles must be regularly inspected and repaired. Routine maintenance must be performed, and the equipment must be up to current safety standards. If a common carrier fails to take these actions, and a passenger is harmed as a result, the common carrier can be held liable. The injured passenger may be entitled to compensation for pain and suffering, medical expenses, lost wages, other out of pocket expenses, and more.

If you have been injured in an accident involving a public or private transportation service, such as a bus, taxi, charter boat, or airplane, you have the legal right to compensation. At Liberty Law, Micha Star Liberty believes that companies that transport passengers for hire should take extreme precautions to ensure that those passengers arrive safely at their destinations. If you have been injured in an accident in the San Francisco Bay area, call San Francisco personal injury attorney Micha Star Liberty at Liberty Law at 510-645-1000 or 415-896-1000. She works with clients throughout the area to ensure that they are fairly compensated. Call to learn more, or to schedule your free consultation.


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