Uber, Lyft and Common Carriers

by | Jun 27, 2019 | Business News

 What are “Common Carriers”?  Under California law, a “common carrier” is defined as anyone who offers transportation to the general public for profit.  In the past, Common Carriers have involved buses, transportation vans, taxicabs, trains, and airplanes.
What about Uber and Lyft?  Are they considered Common Carriers? Uber has been fighting this classification, and at this point, states differ on this issue.  But both Uber and Lyft seem to fit the definition of a common carrier under California law.
Why is this important?  Common carriers have a higher standard of care.  So, Uber and Lyft drivers are required to use “the highest care and diligence of a very cautious person” when transporting passengers and they must do “all that is necessary under the circumstances to avoid injury or harm” to their passengers.
If they voluntarily accept an ill or a disabled person as a passenger and are aware of that person’s condition, they must use as much “additional care as is reasonably necessary to ensure the passenger’s safety”, in view of the passenger’s physical condition.
They cannot overcrowd their vehicle, must travel at “a reasonable rate of speed”, must give to passengers all such accommodations as are usual and reasonable, must treat passengers with civility, and must give its passengers a reasonable degree of attention.
Passengers are sometimes injured while riding in an Uber or Lyft vehicle because the driver was driving carelessly, driving too fast or driving too close to other vehicles. Sometimes, a common carrier will try to limit its liability by using signs, posters, and releases. A common carrier’s liability cannot be limited by a general notice, but it may be limited by a special contract between the carrier and its passenger, such as a release signed by a passenger.
For more information, please call The Mason Law Firm at 661-476-5678 or email mason@mrscvlaw.com.

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