Common Carrier Liability and a Public Transit Accident
Public transportation options are blooming across Colorado. The expansion of public transport along the Front Range means that more and more people are using buses, trains, Ubers, and Lyfts to get around the region. When a public transit accident occurs, it’s essential to know the operator’s legal liability, and the options that plaintiffs have to pursue compensation for their property damage and injuries.
Common Carriers in Colorado
Buses operating within Boulder’s Community Transit Network, Via Mobility Services, HOP buses, and RTD trains are considered public utilities that operate for the benefit of the community at large. The law imposes a higher duty of care on these entities to provide safe, reliable service. These operators must perform regular safety inspections, adhere to all city, state, and federal requirements governing the carrier’s operations, thoroughly train and monitor employees, and repair any damage that exceeds acceptable safety guidelines. Common carriers can be held liable for negligent hiring practices, negligent maintenance, and other actions that contribute to causing a public transit accident in Boulder.
Common carriers in Colorado must also maintain insurance policies that are sufficient to cover any damages sustained by passengers, motorists, or pedestrians when a vehicle fault or employee action causes a public transit accident. Because the potential for multiple injuries or fatalities is greater for common carriers, these policies have higher coverage limits than those required for other drivers.
The Impact of the Emerging Rideshare Industry
Uber and Lyft are also common carriers that can cause a public transit accident. However, because of the way they are structured, the companies have limited liability when an operator using their service causes a motor vehicle accident. This is because their drivers are contractors and not employees of the company.
When an accident occurs in an Uber or a Lyft, the company is liable to the maximum amount of coverage provided to their drivers based on a tiered system of operational periods. Each company offers different levels of coverage based on whether the driver is,
- Online without a ride request
- Online with a request and on the way to pick up a passenger
- Online with a rider inside the vehicle
When a rideshare accident occurs, multiple parties may be liable. These include Uber, Uber’s insurance provider, the driver, or the driver’s insurance provider.
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