Yesterday, at one of New York’s famed airports, the landing gear of a Southwest Airlines flight collapsed during landing resulting in injuries to no fewer than 11 passengers, including 3 Southwest Airline employees. This week, a patron fell down the escalator at one of Las Vegas’ famed strip casinos and, likewise, was injured. While these two preventable incidents may seem completely unrelated, there is a unique legal standard that a Nevada court would impose against either defendant in a common carrier accident (i.e., personal injury lawsuit). This is generally known as the “common carrier” rule.
In Nevada, common carriers of passengers are “bound to use the utmost care and diligence for the safety of its passengers therein.” Historically, Nevada Courts have determined that common carriers include airlines, trains, buses, and even escalator manufacturers. Common carriers are liable for injuries to a passenger “occasioned by its slightest negligence, against which human prudence and foresight should have guarded.” It is important to distinguish this from the general legal duty imposed in most personal injury matters, or the generic “reasonable” standard. So, when you are a passenger involved in a common carrier accident, you automatically derive certain legal protections and benefits that you might not otherwise enjoy. As they say in the travel industry….know before you go.