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What is a common carrier?

Ever ridden on a bus, a cruise ship or commercial airplane? If you have, then you have ridden on a common carrier; i.e., a company in the business of transporting people or goods. These carriers are liable for accidents caused by their vehicles, if the plaintiff can prove the common carrier was negligent.

Common carriers are regulated by different regulatory agencies. For example, commercial airlines must follow the Federal Aviation Administration's regulations. But while different regulations apply to different types of common carriers, one theme is common for all forms of common carrier: They must exercise the highest degree of care and diligence towards ensuring the safety of the people and goods that they transport.

This high standard of care and diligence can be broken in all sorts of ways. Perhaps the carrier failed to give adequate warnings about a dangerous condition such as when an employee, like a pilot, doesn't turn on the fasten-seatbelt sign when turbulence is approaching. Or, perhaps a bus driver made an operating error like changing lanes without using the turn signal. If these mistakes lead to an injury, the common carrier may be liable.

To make the case, Washingtonians will normally need to provide evidence. This can come in several shapes and sizes, from images, to inspection records, to witness testimony, whether from an eyewitness or an expert.

Washingtonians hurt in an accident with a common carrier (such as a bus accident) may benefit from discussing their situations with an experienced personal-injury attorney. Doing so could be the first step towards not only holding the responsible party accountable but also receiving the compensation that they need and deserve to get through a difficult time.

Source: FindLaw, "What is a Common Carrier?" Accessed Aug. 23, 2016

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