Earlier this month, an appellate court in California issued a written opinion that may be of interest to anyone who has recently been injured in a bus or shuttle accident. In the case, Huang v. The Bicycle Casino, the court held that a free shuttle offered by a casino for the benefit of its guests may mean that the casino is acting as a common carrier, giving rise to a heightened duty to keep passengers safe. While the court reserved judgment on that specific issue, the court did hold that the casino does have a duty to protect the passengers, even from other unruly or unsafe passengers.
The defendant casino offered a free shuttle to its patrons. The shuttle held about 40 people, and due to the shuttle’s popularity among patrons, there would often be a line of passengers waiting at various stops. On the day in question, Huang was waiting with between 40 and 70 others, all hoping to get a seat on the shuttle. As the shuttle pulled up, all the patrons ran to board the shuttle and secure a seat. However, as Huang stepped onto the shuttle, the crowd behind her surged, causing her to misstep, fall, and injure her ankle.
Huang filed a negligence lawsuit against the casino, claiming that as a common carrier, the casino had a duty to ensure safe boarding of the shuttle. Common carriers, such as buses, trains, and taxis, are in the business of transporting the public and owe a higher duty to passengers than a regular citizen who may offer a friend a ride as a courtesy. In response to Huang’s claims, the casino argued that it was not acting as a common carrier in operating the shuttle, and any duty it did owe to Huang did not include the duty to prevent negligent or aggressive actions by other passengers on the shuttle. The trial court agreed with the casino and granted its motion for summary judgment. Huang appealed.
The Case Is Reversed on Appeal
The appellate court took issue with the lower court’s opinion. First, the appellate court explained that it was unsure whether the casino was operating as a common carrier in providing a free shuttle to customers. However, the court did not need to make its decision on these grounds and left that question to be answered another day. The court ended up holding that even under a traditional negligence analysis, the casino owed a duty of care to ensure that passengers on the shuttle could board and exit the shuttle safely.
Have You Been Injured in a Maryland Bus or Shuttle Accident?
If you or a loved one has recently been injured in any kind of shuttle or bus accident, you may be entitled to monetary compensation. The skilled personal injury attorneys at the Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, D.C. law firm of Lebowitz & Mzhen, LLC have decades of experience representing injured clients in all kinds of personal injury cases, including bus and shuttle accidents. Call 410-654-3600 today to set up a free consultation.
More Blog Posts:
The Dangers of Large Trucks on City Roads, Maryland Trucking Accident Lawyer Blog, published October 5, 2016.
Liability in Maryland Truck Accidents May Extend Beyond the Truck Driver, Maryland Trucking Accident Lawyer Blog, published October 28, 2016.