California Civil Jury Instructions (CACI)

907. Status of Passenger Disputed

A common carrier owes the highest care and vigilance to persons only while they are passengers. [Name of plaintiff] claims that [he/she] was [name of defendant]’s passenger at the time of the incident.

To establish that [name of plaintiff] was a passenger, [he/she] must prove all of the following:

1. That [name of plaintiff] intended to become a passenger;

2. That [name of plaintiff] was accepted as a passenger by [name of defendant]; and

3. That [name of plaintiff] placed [himself/herself] under the control of [name of defendant].

To be a passenger, it is not necessary for the person to actually enter the carrier’s vehicle [or name mode of travel, e.g., bus, train]; however, the carrier must have taken some action indicating acceptance of the person as a passenger. A person continues to be a passenger until he or she safely leaves the carrier’s vehicle [or equipment].

A common carrier must use the highest care and vigilance in providing its passengers with a safe place to get on and off its vehicles [or equipment].

New September 2003

Sources and Authority

  • The heightened degree of care for common carriers is owed only while “passengers are in transitu, and until they have safely departed the carrier’s vehicle.” (Marshall v. United Airlines (1973) 35 Cal.App.3d 84, 86 [110 Cal.Rptr. 416].)
  • The relationship of carrier and passenger is “created when one offers to become a passenger, and is accepted as a passenger after he has placed himself under the control of the carrier.” (Grier v. Ferrant (1944) 62 Cal.App.2d 306, 310 [144 P.2d 631].)
  • It is not necessary that the passenger have entered the vehicle for the relationship to exist: “ ‘The relation is in force when one, intending in good faith to become a passenger, goes to the place designated as the site of departure at the appropriate time and the carrier takes some action indicating acceptance of the passenger as a traveler.’ ” (Orr v. Pacific Southwest Airlines (1989) 208 Cal.App.3d 1467, 1473 [257 Cal.Rptr. 18], internal citations omitted.)
  • The carrier-passenger relationship terminates once the passenger has disembarked and entered a place of relative safety. (McGettigan v. Bay Area Rapid Transit Dist. (1997) 57 Cal.App.4th 1011, 1018 [67 Cal.Rptr.2d 516].)
  • Carriers must exercise utmost care “ ‘[u]ntil the passenger reaches a place outside the sphere of any activity of the carrier which might reasonably constitute a mobile or animated hazard to the passenger.’ ” (Brandelius v. City and County of San Francisco (1957) 47 Cal.2d 729, 735 [306 P.2d 432], internal citations omitted.)

Secondary Sources

6 Witkin, Summary of California Law (10th ed. 2005) Torts, §§ 926, 927

2 Levy et al., California Torts, Ch. 23, Carriers, § 23.02[4] (Matthew Bender)

11 California Forms of Pleading and Practice, Ch. 109, Carriers (Matthew Bender)

2A California Points and Authorities, Ch. 33, Carriers (Matthew Bender)

2 California Civil Practice: Torts (Thomson West) § 28:7