In Virginia, bus drivers, railroads, airlines, amusement park ride operators, elevator operators, and taxi lines transport people and owe duties to their passengers. These drivers and operators and their companies are responsible to use “the highest degree of practical care” they can for the safety of their passengers. Although such bus and taxi drivers are not responsible for insuring the safety of passengers, such drivers and their companies will be responsible for even slight negligence that causes injuries to passengers.
These transportation companies owe even higher duties to passengers that are known to be “incapacitated.” A passenger is incapacitated when the passenger has a temporary or permanent condition that limits his or her ability to understand dangers or make sound decisions. Common examples of incapacities are mental conditions, sleep, and the effects of alcohol. For such incapacitated passengers, the transportation company owes a higher duty to care to ensure that the passenger is protected from dangers and the mode of travel.
Buses, train companies, airlines, and taxi companies also owe the duty of making sure passengers are kept free from assaults by employees and other individuals. If such a transportation company knows or should know that another passenger or stranger is a threat to other passengers, the company must take steps to protect other passengers from attacks. A transportation company that fails to protect against foreseeable attacks will be held financially responsible for any injuries that occur. It’s for that reason that transportation companies have a duty to remove any disorderly or threatening passengers.
One common issue in injury cases with transportation companies is determining when the transportation company’s responsibility for a passenger begins and when that responsibility ends. If an injury occurs to someone before they are under the company’s protection or after they have left the transportation company’s protection, the transportation company will not be financially responsible for any harm they suffered.
Virginia law says that there are several steps to determine when a bus, taxi, airline, train, or roller coaster operator owes duties to a party as a passenger. First, the party must present himself to a transportation company as a passenger, which means the party must appear with the intent to be transported. Second, the time, place, manner, and circumstances under which the party appeared must be the circumstances under which the transportation company “must be deemed to have accepted him as a passenger.” Taken together, these things mean that a passenger must appear in a place where the transportation company would expect them to be.
Once the passenger-carrier relationship is established, the relationship continues – and the transportation company’s duty to act safely continues – until the passenger has exited the bus, taxi, train, elevator, or ride and has a reasonable opportunity to reach a safe place. It is only after the passenger has had an opportunity to reach safety that the transportation company’s responsibility to the passenger ends. In other words, any injuries that occur before the termination of the relationship may be the transportation company’s responsibility.
If you or a loved one suffered injuries while in a taxi, bus, roller coaster or other amusement park ride, or train, you should speak with an attorney to defend your rights. For a free consultation, contact our transportation injury lawyers, either Robert E. Byrne, Jr. at (434) 817-3100 or Kirk D. Becchi at (540) 437-1243.
You will not owe any legal fees unless we recover money for you.