Common Carriers Must Take Reasonable Care or Face Liability

For some vacationers, a Caribbean cruise is the epitome of relaxation. They envision sunsets on the deck, drinks by the pool, unlimited food, and duty-free shopping. For others, it is Disney on the high seas, with Snow White, Cinderella, or Aladdin leading daily activities to keep the kids occupied and amused.

cruise-ship-shot-2-1401482Every once in a while, however, Disney turns into disaster, and would-be vacationers end up nursing serious wounds in a local hospital, far from the paradise they hoped to discover. In some cases, vacationers even die due to the errors of their entrusted carriers, and loved ones who pictured their family members sunning themselves on a distant beach are forced to unexpectedly begin the mourning process.

These are, of course, dreaded vacation scenarios. Not many cruise ship passengers expect disaster when their beautiful luxury liner departs for sunnier skies and warmer waters. But when tragedy does occur, the law can provide relief to injured passengers and grieving family members.

Under Illinois law, common carriers such as trains, buses, and cruise lines are required to take reasonable care when serving their passengers. While the meaning of reasonable care varies slightly depending on the type of common carrier involved, all common carriers share certain obligations in the service of their passengers. For example, ship captains, bus drivers, and train engineers must all meet specific licensing and training requirements, and all must be afforded sufficient rest time so that they remain alert while transporting their passengers. In addition, all carriers must be regularly inspected, and maintenance and repair schedules must be strictly adhered to. Finally, emergency doors, windows, and signage must be adequately displayed and functioning properly at all times.

The nature of cruises places additional requirements on cruise lines to ensure the safety of their passengers. Food must be properly stored and handled to prevent any sort of outbreak, automatic doors, escalators, and ramps to and from the ship must be routinely inspected and in safe working condition, and decks and floors must be safely maintained, given the increased risk of slippery floor conditions.

In Illinois, when a common carrier fails to meet these standards, the carrier may be liable for negligence, and an injured passenger can potentially recover economic and non-economic damages. Economic damages are for out-of-pocket losses, like lost wages, diminished future earnings, and medical bills that are not covered by insurance. Non-economic damages compensate injured parties for the emotional distress that a defendant’s negligence causes, as well as for pain and suffering. Loved ones may also sue for non-economic damages related to injuries suffered by a spouse or child. There is no limit to the amount of non-economic damages that a plaintiff can recover in Illinois.

Some of these scenarios recently came together when a locally operated bus crashed on the Caribbean Island of Tortola. According to a news article, the bus was carrying 20 passengers from a large cruise ship docked in Tortola at the start of a week-long cruise around the Caribbean. Unfortunately, two passengers were killed and 16 were injured. Of those 16, two were injured critically. All were taken to a local hospital. The article did not indicate the cause of the bus crash, and all inquiries were referred to local authorities.

Have You Been Injured While Traveling On a Common Carrier?

If you or someone you love has been injured while riding on a boat, bus, train, or plane, you need a lawyer who understands the complexities of all modes of transportation. The lawyers at Moll Law Group have extensive experience handling personal injury and wrongful death cases for a variety of transportation vehicles, and we can help. These companies often put profit before safety, and we believe that by representing you, we are making transportation less dangerous for everyone by holding them accountable for their negligence. For a free consultation, call Moll Law Group at (312) 462-1700.

See More Posts:

Child Birth Injuries and Medical Malpractice Claims, Illinois Injury Lawyer Blog, December 8, 2015.

Public Schools Enjoy Some Level of Immunity for Injuries to Students, Illinois Injury Lawyer Blog, December 16, 2015.

Doctors and Drug Companies May Be Liable for Medication Side Effects, Illinois Injury Lawyer Blog, December 22, 2015.