Common Carrier Liability

A company offering transportation services at published rates to the general public is referred to as a common carrier. Airplanes are one form of common carriers, and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is the federal agency responsible for regulating all aspects of civil aviation in the United States, including common carriers as well as private carriers.

Common carriers are held to a much higher standard of care, and any breach of its duty of care to passengers may make the carrier liable to accident victims for any injuries they suffered. Insurance companies for common carriers such as airlines will often attempt to get accident victims to quickly agree to a financial settlement in order to avoid litigation, but it is important for people to understand that such offers usually fail to account for the full lifetime of care required.

Lawyer Discusses Common Carrier Liability in Chicago, IL

If you sustained severe injuries or your loved one was killed in an accident on an airplane or some other kind of common carrier in northern Illinois, it will be in your best interest to retain legal counsel as soon as possible. Susan E. Loggans & Associates helps residents and visitors injured in aviation accidents all over Cook County, including Berwyn, Burbank, Calumet City, Chicago, Des Plaines, and many others.

Susan E. Loggans is an experienced personal injury attorney in Chicago who can fight to get you the compensation you need and deserve for medical bills, lost wages, and other damages. Call (302) 201-8600 to have our lawyer review your case and answer all of your legal questions during a free initial consultation. Susan E. Loggans & Associates represents clients on a contingency fee basis, meaning you will not be charged any fees unless you receive a financial award.


Cook County Common Carrier Liability Information Center


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Illinois Common Carrier Definitions

Under Illinois’ Common Carrier Liability Act, 740 Illinois Compiled Statute 25/1 establishes:

That whenever any property is received by a common carrier, to be transported from one place to another, within or without this state, it shall not be lawful for such carrier to limit his common law liability safely to deliver such property at the place to which the same is to be transported by any stipulation or limitation expressed in the receipt given for such property.

In Rotheli v. Chicago Transit Authority, 7 Ill.2d 172, 130 N.E.2d 172 (1955), the Illinois Supreme Court held that a common carrier “owes a duty to exercise the highest degree of care consistent with the practical operation of its conveyances to protect the safety of the passenger and such duty is continuous throughout this relationship and extends to passengers who are given a transfer for continuous passage upon another conveyance of the carrier.” Airplanes are one type of common carriers, but other conveyances that have been classified as common carriers include:

  • Ships
  • Buses
  • Taxis
  • Limousines
  • Amusement Rides
  • Railroad
  • Elevators

FAA Advisory Circular (AC) 120-12A states that "common carriage" and “private carriage" are common law terms. A carrier becomes a common carrier when it “‘holds itself out’ or to a segment of the public, as willing to furnish transportation within the limits of its facilities to any person who wants it.”

The four elements that define a common carrier are as follows:

  • a holding out of a willingness to
  • transport persons or property
  • from place to place
  • for compensation.

Carriage for hire which does not involve "holding out" is considered private carriage. AC 120-12A notes that private carriers are sometimes called "contract carriers," but “the term is borrowed from the Interstate Commerce Act and legally inaccurate when used in connection with the Federal Aviation Act.”


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Duties of Common Carriers in Chicago

Illinois Pattern Civil Jury Instruction 100.01establishes that a common carrier is not a guarantor of its passengers' safety, but it has a duty to its passengers to use the highest degree of care consistent with the mode of conveyance used and the practical operation of its business as a common carrier. Failure to fulfill this duty constitutes negligence.

Some of the other duties of common carriers in the Illinois Pattern Civil Jury Instructions include:

  • Duty of Carrier to Protect Passengers from Injury by Third Persons, Illinois Pattern Civil Jury Instruction 100.02;
  • Duty of Carrier to Protect Passengers from Other Passengers, Illinois Pattern Civil Jury Instruction 100.03;
  • Duty of Carrier to Protect Passengers from Assault, Abuse, Or Intentional Harm By Employees, Illinois Pattern Civil Jury Instruction 100.04;
  • Duty of Carrier to Protect Passengers--Conductor Vested With Police Powers, Illinois Pattern Civil Jury Instruction 100.06;
  • Duty to Disabled, Infirm, or Intoxicated Person, Or To A Child, Illinois Pattern Civil Jury Instruction 100.08; and
  • Duty of Carrier to Protect Invitees from Assault, Illinois Pattern Civil Jury Instruction 100.12.

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Types of Common Carrier Liability Cook County

Accidents on common carriers can occur for any one of a number of reasons. Most common carrier crashes are immediately investigated by the carriers’ respective regulatory agency, and some of the most common causes of these accidents include:

  • Operator or driver negligence;
  • Failure to maintain equipment;
  • Lack of or failure to comply with safety procedures;
  • Negligence of other passengers; or
  • Defective equipment.

Common carriers may also be liable for the acts of employees under the theory of respondeat superior, or vicarious liability. In Dennis v. Pace Suburban Bus Service, 19 N.E.3d 85 (2014) 132397 (1st Dist. 2014), the Fifth Division of the First District Appellate Court of Illinois ruled that Pace was responsible under the doctrine of respondeat superior for injuries the victim suffered when she was sexually assaulted by a bus driver in her home because the driver “initiated the sexual assault when plaintiff was riding on the bus at a time when she was a passenger, and the common carrier and passenger relationship existed.”

Common carriers do have certain exceptions to liability in some cases. For example, common carriers cannot be held liable for injuries arising as the result of bad weather or other “acts of God” that are beyond the control of the common carrier.


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Susan E. Loggans & Associates | Chicago Common Carrier Liability Attorney

Did you sustain catastrophic injuries or was your loved one killed in any accident on a common carrier in Cook County? You will want to contact Susan E. Loggans & Associates for help determining your best options to obtain compensation.

Chicago personal injury lawyer Susan E. Loggans represents individuals in Elgin, Elmhurst, Evanston, Oak Forest, Park Ridge, and many surrounding areas of northern Illinois? Our attorney can provide a complete evaluation of your case as soon as you call (302) 201-8600 or submit an online contact form to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation.


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