Common Carriers: Who are they?
Who is Considered a Common Carrier in Nevada, and why does it matter to your Personal Injury Case?
In Nevada, a “Common motor carrier” is described under NRS 706.036 as any person or operator who presents themselves to the public, willing to transport either passengers or property by vehicle from one location to another. This can be upon a fixed route or through on-call operations and covers a common motor carrier of passengers, a common motor carrier of property, and even taxicab motor carriers.
Expanding the Scope of Common Carriers
Various judgments have established that common carriers encompass diverse entities that offer transportation services to the general public. Examples include owners of amusement park rides, sightseeing operations, and guided tour providers—the case of Gomez v. Superior Court, 35 Cal.4th 1125,1141-1142,29 Cal. Rptr. 3d 352, 264-265, 113 P.3d 41,51 (2005) underlined that roller coaster operators can be deemed common carriers. Likewise, in Neubauer v. Disneyland, 875 F.Supp. 672, 673 (CD. 1995), Disneyland amusement rides were recognized as common carriers. Furthermore, ski resorts have also been included under this category when passengers use their facilities, as seen in Squaw Valley Ski Corp. v. Superior Court, 2 Cal. App. 4th 1499,3 Cal. Rptr. 2d 897,900 (1992). Even guided tour services using mules, as illustrated in the case of *Mclntyre v. Smoke Tree Ranch Stables, 205 Cal.App.2d 489, 490,23 Cal.Rptr. 339, 339,1962 Cal. App. LEXIS 2155, 1, falls under this definition.
In Smith v. Odd Fellows Bldg. Ass’n, 46 Nev. 48, 205 P. 796, 797–98 (1922), the Nevada Supreme Court emphasized how critical it is for common carriers to maintain a high safety standard, particularly when managing potentially dangerous instruments such as elevators and escalators. This higher standard requires elevator and escalator owners to upgrade their escalators and elevators if it will materially contribute to the safety of passengers “whenever the ability of such improvements has been thoroughly tested and demonstrated, and their adoption is within his power, to be reasonably practicable.” Smith
Historical Context of Common Carrier Obligations
Historically, Nevada case law was clear in its stance that common carriers were obligated to offer an elevated degree of care to their passengers concerning transportation-associated hazards. This was reinforced in Sherman v. S. Pac. Co., 33 Nev. 385, 405, 111 P. 416, 424 (1910) and later in Murphy v. S. Pac. Co., 31 Nev. 120, 125, 101 P. 322, 325 (1909). The underlying rationale behind such judgments is passengers’ inherent trust in these carriers, relying on them to prevent accidents.
Shift in the Legal Landscape
However, a critical shift occurred in the 2019 judgment of First Transit, Inc. v. Chernikoff, 445 P.3d 1253, 1257-1258, 2019 Nev. LEXIS 44, at 8-10, 135 Nev. Adv. Rep. 32, 2019 WL 3502400. Here, it was discerned that the elevated duty of a common carrier did not apply to non-transportation risks. This distinction was made when an individual tragically passed away after choking on a sandwich while on a bus operated by First Transit. The Nevada Supreme Court deduced that the exceptional responsibility of carriers shouldn’t extend to situations unrelated to transportation hazards
The landscape of premises liability, especially in casinos, is intricate. While the obligation of common carriers to act with a higher degree of care is evident, nuances arise in individual cases, making it vital for plaintiffs to build a robust case demonstrating the elements of duty, breach, causation, and damages. Equally, common carriers must be cognizant of their responsibilities, keeping abreast of improvements in passenger safety and invest in changes in technology.
If you have experienced a personal injury while riding a bus, elevator, escalator, amusement park ride, or taxicab, call Shook & Stone to see if they can help you obtain the compensation you deserve for your damages and injuries. Don’t hesitate to call a lawyer today at (702) 570-0000.