CACI No. 902. Duty of Common Carrier

Judicial Council of California Civil Jury Instructions (2023 edition)

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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.
New September 2003
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)

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