Brian Kabateck and Douglas Rochen wrote a column that ran in the Daily Journal on Aug. 6, 2014 about how despite the fact that recent laws have expanded the definition of who is considered a common carrier, ridesharing and private limousine companies still erroneously claim they are private transportation subject to only ordinary duty of care. Under California law, common carriers are subject to a “higher duty of care to safely deliver passengers to their destination, and may be liable for failing to act affirmatively to prevent harm,” Kabateck and Rochen write. “In contrast, under ordinary care, a person is not liable unless he or she is actively careless.”
A common carrier is a person or entity hired to transport passengers from one place to another for a set price. Private transportation, on the other hand, operates “only for the benefit of a particular class and not for the benefit of the public generally.”
The problem is exacerbated by the fact that presumed private transportation has grown over the years with ridesharing companies like Uber and Lyft becoming increasingly popular, Kabateck and Rochen note. But just because a service costs more and is deemed more exclusive, doesn’t mean it should bear any less responsibility for making sure passengers are safe.
“Not every accident is avoidable. However, common carriers by the nature of their business, their service to the public, and the money they receive as professional operators, are expected to do everything in their power to prevent an accident. Limousine carriers should be no exception,” Kabateck and Rochen wrote. “The heightened standard of care is imposed because they undertake, through a special relationship, to transport “precious cargo” to safety. Given the recent evolution of laws in the U.S., it will not be a surprise to see companies such as Uber, Lyft and other limousine companies, being held to stricter standards.”