CACI 902 Duty of Common Carrier

California Civil Jury Instructions CACI

902 Duty of Common Carrier

Common carriers must carry passengers [or property] safely. Common carriers must use the highest care and the vigilance of a very cautious person. They must do all that human care, vigilance, and foresight reasonably can do under the circumstances to avoid harm to passengers [or property].

While a common carrier does not guarantee the safety of its passengers [or property that it transports], it must use reasonable skill to provide everything necessary for safe transportation, in view of the transportation used and the practical operation of the business.

Sources and Authority

Duty of Common Carrier. Civil Code section 2100.

“Common carriers bind themselves to carry safely those whom they take into their vehicles, and owe both a duty of utmost care and the vigilance of a very cautious person towards their passengers. Such carriers are responsible for any, even the slightest, negligence and are required to do all that human care, vigilance, and foresight reasonably can do under all the circumstances.” (Acosta v. Southern California Rapid Transit Dist. (1970) 2 Cal.3d 19, 27 [84 Cal.Rptr. 184, 465 P.2d 72], internal citations omitted.)

“The Civil Code treats common carriers differently depending on whether they act gratuitously or for reward. ‘A carrier of persons without reward must use ordinary care and diligence for their safe carriage.’ But ‘[c]arriers of persons for reward have long been subject to a heightened duty of care.’ Such carriers ‘must use the utmost care and diligence for [passengers’] safe carriage, must provide everything necessary for that purpose, and must exercise to that end a reasonable degree of skill.’ While these carriers are not insurers of their passengers’ safety, ‘[t]his standard of care requires common carriers ‘to do all that human care, vigilance, and foresight reasonably can do under the circumstances.’ ” (Huang v. The Bicycle Casino, Inc. (2016) 4 Cal.App.5th 329, 338 [208 Cal.Rptr.3d 591], internal citations omitted.)

“This elevated standard of care for common carriers has its origin in English common law. It is based on a recognition that the privilege of serving the public as a common carrier necessarily entails great responsibility, requiring common carriers to exercise a high duty of care towards their customers.” (Squaw Valley Ski Corp. v. Superior Court (1992) 2 Cal.App.4th 1499, 1507 [3 Cal.Rptr.2d 897], internal citations omitted.)

“Common carriers are not, however, insurers of their passengers’ safety. Rather, the degree of care and diligence which they must exercise is only such as can reasonably be exercised consistent with the character and mode of conveyance adopted and the practical operation of the business of the carrier.” (Lopez v. Southern Cal. Rapid Transit Dist. (1985) 40 Cal.3d 780, 785 [221 Cal.Rptr. 840, 710 P.2d 907], internal citations omitted.)

“[I]f a passenger injures herself when encountering minor commonplace hazards that one expects in a station or terminal, the heightened duty does not apply.” (Churchman v. Bay Area Rapid Transit Dist. (2019) 39 Cal.App.5th 246, 251 [252 Cal.Rptr.3d 167].)

Secondary Sources

6 Witkin, Summary of California Law (11th ed. 2017) Torts, §§ 1055, 1057
2 Levy et al., California Torts, Ch. 23, Carriers, § 23.02 (Matthew Bender)
11 California Forms of Pleading and Practice, Ch. 109, Carriers, § 109.32 et seq. (Matthew Bender)
2A California Points and Authorities, Ch. 33, Carriers, § 33.22 (Matthew Bender)
22 California Legal Forms, Ch. 54, Shipment of Property, § 54.32 (Matthew Bender)
California Civil Practice: Torts §§ 28:6–28:9 (Thomson Reuters)