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An individual or business that advertises to the public that it is available for hire to transport people or property in exchange for a fee.
A common carrier is legally bound to carry all passengers or freight as long as there is enough space, the fee is paid, and no reasonable grounds to refuse to do so exist. A common carrier that unjustifiably refuses to carry a particular person or cargo may be sued for damages.
The states regulate common carriers engaged in business within their borders. When interstate or foreign transportation is involved, the federal government, by virtue of the Commerce Clause of the Constitution, regulates the activities of such carriers. A common carrier may establish reasonable regulations for the efficient operation and maintenance of its business.
n. an individual, a company, or a public utility (like municipal buses) which is in the regular business of transporting people and/or freight. This is distinguished from a private carrier which only transports occasionally or as a one-time-only event. (See: carrier)
common carriera person who publicly undertakes to carry any goods or persons for payment on the routes operated. A common carrier is under duties to carry everyone who offers to pay his charges and to answer as an insurer for everything carried. However, a carrier is not a common carrier if he holds himself out as ready to carry for the public at large only in connection with some other business to which the carriage of goods is merely ancillary.
COMMON CARRIER, contracts. One who undertakes for hire or reward to
transport the goods of any who may choose to employ him, from place to
place. 1 Pick. 50, 53; 1 Salk. 249, 250; Story, Bailm. Sec. 495 1 Bouv.
Inst. n. 1020.
2. Common carriers are generally of two descriptions, namely, carriers by land and carriers by water. Of the former description are the proprietors of stage coaches, stage wagons or expresses, which ply between different places, and' carry goods for hire; and truckmen, teamsters, cartmen, and porters, who undertake to carry goods for hire, as a common employment, from one part of a town or city to another, are also considered as common carriers. Carriers by water are the masters and owners of ships and steamboats engaged in the transportation of goods for persons generally, for hire and lightermen, hoymen, barge-owners, ferrymen, canal boatmen, and others employed in like manner, are so considered.
3. By the common law, a common carrier is generally liable for all losses which may occur to property entrusted to his charge in the course of business, unless he can prove the loss happened in consequence of the act of God, or of the enemies of the United States, or by the act of the owner of the property. 8 S. & R. 533; 6 John. R. 160; 11 John. R. 107; 4 N. H. Rep. 304; Harp. R. 469; Peck. R. 270; 7 Yerg. R. 340; 3 Munf. R. 239; 1 Conn. R. 487; 1 Dev. & Bat. 273; 2 Bail. Rep. 157.
4. It was attempted to relax the rigor of the common law in relation to carriers by water, in 6 Cowen, 266; but that case seems to be at variance with other decisions. 2 Kent,. Com. 471, 472; 10 Johns. 1; 11 Johns. 107.
5. In respect to carriers by land, the rule of the common law seems every where admitted in its full rigor in the states governed by the jurisprudence of the common law. Louisiana follows the doctrine of the civil law in her code. Proprietors of stage coaches or wagons, whose employment is solely% to carry passengers, as hackney coachmen, are not deemed common carriers; but if the proprietors of such vehicles for passengers, also carry goods for hire, they are, in respect of such goods, to be deemed common carriers. Bac. Ab. Carriers, A; 2 Show. Rep. 128 1 Salk. 282 Com. Rep. 25; 1 Pick. 50 5 Rawle, 1 79. The like reasoning applies to packet ships and steam-boats, which ply between different ports, and are accustomed to carry merchandise as well as passengers. 2 Watts. R. 443; 5 Day's Rep. 415; 1 Conn. R. 54; 4 Greenl. R. 411; 5 Yerg. R. 427; 4 Har. & J. 291; 2 Verm. R. 92; 2 Binn. Rep. 74; 1 Bay, Rep. 99; 10 John. R. 1; 11 Pick. R. 41; 8 Stew. and Port. 135; 4 Stew. & Port. 382; 3 Misso. R. 264; 2 Nott. & M. 88. But see 6 Cowen, R. 266. The rule which makes a common carrier responsible for the loss of goods, does not extend to the carriage of persons; a carrier of slaves is, therefore, answerable only for want of care and skill. 2 Pet. S. C. R. 150. 4 M'Cord, R. 223; 4 Port. R. 238.
6. A common carrier of goods is in all cases entitled to demand the price of carriage before he receives the goods, and, if not paid, he may refuse to take charge of them; if, however, he take charge of them without the hire being paid, he may afterwards recover it. The compensation which becomes due for the carriage of goods by sea, is commonly called freight (q.v.); and see also, Abb. on Sh. part 3, c. 7. The carrier is also entitled to a lien on the goods for his hire, which, however, he may waive; but if once waived, the right cannot be resumed. 2 Kent, Com. 497. The consignor or shipper is commonly bound to the carrier for the hire or freight of goods. 1 T. R. 659. But whenever the consignee engages to pay it, he also becomes responsible. It is usual in bills of lading to state, that the goods are to be delivered to the consignee or to his assigns, he or they paying freight, in which case the consignee and his assigns, by accepting the goods, impliedly become bound to pay the freight, and the fact that the consignor is also liable to pay it, will not, in such case, make any difference. Abbott on Sh. part 3, o. 7, Sec. 4.
7. What is said above, relates to common carriers of goods. The duties, liabilities, and rights of carriers of passengers, are now to be considered. These are divided into carriers of passengers on land, and carriers of passengers on water.
8. First, of carriers of passengers on land. The duties of such carriers are, 1st. those which arise on the commencement of the journey. 1. To carry passengers whenever they offer themselves and are ready to pay for their transportation. They have no more right to refuse a passenger, if they have sufficient room and accommodation, than an innkeeper has to refuse a guest. 3 Brod. & Bing. 54; 9 Price's R. 408; 6 Moore, R. 141; 2 Chit. R. 1; 4 Esp. R. 460; 1 Bell's Com. 462; Story, Bailm. Sec. 591.
9. - 2. To provide coaches reasonably strong and sufficient for the journey, with suitable horses, trappings and equipments.
10. - 3. To provide careful drivers of reasonable skill and. good habits for the journey; and to employ horses which are steady and not vicious, or likely to endanger the safety of the passengers.
11. - 4. Not to overload the coach either with passengers or luggage.
12. - 5. To receive and take care of the usual luggage allowed to every passenger on the journey. 6 Hill, N. Y. Rep. 586.
13. - 2d. Their duties on the progress of the journey. 1. To stop at the usual places, and allow the..Usual intervals for the refreshment of the passengers. 5 Petersd. Ab. Carriers, p. 48, note.
14. - 2. To use all the ordinary precautions for the safety of passengers on the road.
15. - 3d. Their duties on the termination of the journey. 1. To carry the passengers to the end of the journey.
16. - 2. To put them down at the usual place of stopping, unless there has been a special contract to the contrary, and then to put them down at the place agreed upon. 1 Esp. R. 27.
17. The liabilities of such carriers. They are bound to use extraordinary care and diligence to carry safely those whom they take in their coaches. 2 Esp. R. 533; 2 Camp. R. 79; Peake's R. 80. But, not being insurers, they are not responsible for accidents, when all reasonable skill and diligence have been used.
18. The rights of such carriers. 1. To demand and receive their fare at the time the passenger takes his seat. 2. They have a lien on the baggage of the passenger for his fare or passage money, but not on the person of the passenger nor the clothes he has on. Abb. on Sh. part 3, c. 3, Sec. 11; 2 Campb. R. 631.
19. Second, carriers of passengers by water. By the act of Congress of 2d March, 1819, 3 Story's Laws U. S. 1722, it is enacted, 1. that no master of a vessel bound to or from the United States shall take more than two passengers for every five tons of the ship's custom-house measurement. 2. That the quantity of water and provisions, which shall be taken on board and secured under deck, by every Ship bound from the United States to any port on the continent of Europe, shall be sixty gallons of water, one hundred pounds of salted provisions, one gallon of vinegar, and one hundred pounds of wholesome ship bread for each passenger, besides the stores of the crew. The tonnage here mentioned, is the measurement of the custom-house; and in estimating the number of passengers in a vessel, no deduction is to be made for children or persons not paying, but the crew is not to be included. Gilp. R. 334.
20. The act of Congress of February 22, 1847, section 1, provides: "That if the master of any vessel, owned in whole or in part by a citizen of the United States of America, or by a citizen of any foreign country, shall take on board such vessel, at any foreign port or place, a greater number of passengers than in the following proportion to the space occupied by them and appropriated for their use, and unoccupied by stores or other goods, not being the personal luggage of such passengers, that is to say, on the lower deck or platform one passenger for every fourteen clear superficial feet of deck, if such vessel is not to pass within the tropics during such voyage; but if such vessel is to pass within the tropics during such voyage, then one passenger for every twenty such clear superficial feet of deck, and on the @orlop deck (if any) one passenger for every thirty such superficial feet in all cases, with intent to bring such passengers to the United States of America, and shall leave such port or, place with the same, and bring the same, or any number thereof, within the jurisdiction of the United States aforesaid, or if any such master of a vessel shall take on board of his vessel at any port or place within the jurisdiction of the United States aforesaid, any greater number of passengers than the proportions aforesaid admit, with intent to carry the same to any foreign port or place, every such master shall be deemed guilty of a misdemeanor, and, upon conviction thereof before any circuit or district court of the United States aforesaid, shall, for each passenger taken on board beyond the above proportions, be fined in the sum of fifty dollars, and may also be imprisoned for any term not exceeding one year: Provided, That this act shall not be construed to permit any ship or vessel to carry more than two passengers to five tons of such ship or vessel."
21. Children under one year of age not to be computed in counting the passengers, and those over one year and under eight, are to be counted as two children for one passenger, Sect. 4. But this section is repealed so far as authorizes shippers to estimate two children of eight years of age and under as one passenger by the act of March 2, 1847, s. 2.
22. In New York, statutory regulations have been made in relation to their canal navigation. Vide 6 Cowen's R. 698. As to the conduct of carrier vessels on the ocean, Vide Story, Bailm. Sec. 607 et seq; Marsh. Ins. B. 1, c. 12, s. 2. And see, generally, 1 Vin. Ab. 219; Bac. Ab. h.t.; 1 Com. Dig. 423; Petersd. Ab. h.t.; Dane's Ab. Index, h.t.; 2 Kent, Com. 464; 16 East, 247, note; Bouv. Inst. Index, h.t.
23. In Louisiana carriers and watermen are subject, with respect to the safe-keeping and preservation of the things entrusted to them, to the same obligations and duties, as are imposed on tavern keepers; Civ. Code, art. 2722; that is, they are responsible for the effects which are brought, though they were not delivered into their personal care; provided, however, they were delivered to a servant or person in their employment; art. 2937. They are responsible if any of the effects be stolen or damaged, either by their servants or agents, or even by strangers; art. 2938; but they are not responsible for what is stolen by force of arms or with exterior breaking open of doors, or by any other extraordinary violence; art. 2939. For the authorities on the subject of Common carriers in the civil law, the reader is referred to Dig. 4, 9, 1 to 7; Poth. Pand. lib. 4, t. 9; Domat liv. 1, t. 16, S. 1 and 2; Pard. art. 537 to 555; Code Civil, art. 1782, 1786, 1952; Moreau & Carlton, Partidas 5, t. 8, 1. 26; Ersk. Inst. B. 2, t. 1, Sec. 28; 1 Bell's Com. 465; Abb. on Sh. part 3, c. 3, Sec. 3, note (1); 1 Voet, ad Pand. lib. 4, t. 9; Merl. Rep. mots Voiture, Voiturier; Dict. de Police, Voiture.