Most recent reports on the DC Metro crash that killed 9 include findings that the deceased driver of the train was likely NOT the cause of the accident. One cause may have been outdated equipment not replaced by the transit authority for lack of funding. In most personal injury negligence cases, the Defendant is supposed to use “reasonable care” to prevent causing harm to the innocent victim. However, when the company causing the injury is a “common carrier,” then they are held to an even higher “standard of care”. A subway, train, railroad and bus are all generally "Common Carriers". They convey passengers without refusal if the approved fare or charge is paid.
The second definition in the Blacks Law Dictionary goes on to state that a Common carrier is “One who holds himself out the public as engaged in business of transportation of persons or property from place to place for compensation, and who offers services to the general public.” Examples of common carriers are: trains, buses, subways, airplanes, Metrorail, airport terminal shuttles, VRE (Virginia Rail Express), Amtrak trains and trolleys. Money or tickets do not have to change hands in order for a bus or train to be considered a “common carrier.” For example, when transferring from the DC Metro train to the Bus service, the fare has already been paid when entering the subway station, and only a receipt is needed to board the bus at the end of the train ride.
When the dust settles on this catastrophic Metro train accident, injured riders and families mourning loved ones will look for answers and restitution. The strict legal standard of care for Common Carriers may afford the innocent victims just compensation for what has been taken from them.