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   Chapter 56 THE CARRYING OF PASSENGERS

Up To Date Business By Various Characters: 4446

Updated: 2017-12-06 00:03


Millions ride on steamboats, in the street-cars, and by steam-railways, and the question is an important one with them. What are the rights and duties of company and passenger? First, it is the duty of a company carrying passengers to provide every one with a seat. This rule does not apply to street-cars but it does to steam-railways. In some cases it is said of the street-car passengers that those who use the straps pay the money from which dividends are paid. But the rule is otherwise that applies to railway companies. They must furnish seats for their passengers and cannot demand fares until seats are secured.

Having taken him on board and seated him, what degree of care must the company use in carrying the passenger? It may seem strange to say that the company is not obliged to use as much care as in carrying a barrel of apples or an animal. Goods must be moved, kept dry, perhaps, and cared for in other ways. An animal must be fed. In carrying cattle stops must be made for rest. But the passenger takes care of himself. He gets in and out and provides his own rations. Therefore the law puts on the carrier the duty of using only a reasonable degree of care in taking him from place to place. In other words, the railway is not an insurer of life, as it is of goods or other merchandise. As passengers are of themselves able to get around and use some care with respect to their own movements, the law lessens the responsibility.

Perhaps the reader would like to know what the company must do in carrying a passenger's baggage. This is a very practical question. If he takes his grip in the seat with him, he alone is responsible for its safety. If some one should get in the seat beside him and in going out should take the grip along with him, the owner could not ask the company to make good his loss. On the other hand, if he delivers his grip to the company, then the company is bound by the same rule as when carrying other goods and merchandise. The price paid for his ticket is also enough to pay the cost of carrying his trunk or other baggage, therefore the carrier cannot escape paying for its loss when having possession of it on the ground that the service is purely voluntary and with

out compensation. As the company gets compensation it must pay for any loss while taking baggage from one place to another unless the loss or damage should be due to no fault or negligence of the company.

Every now and then we receive a cheque for a trunk or other piece of baggage stating that in the event of loss the company will not be responsible beyond a certain amount-$50, or $100, or other sum. Is that statement on the cheque worth anything? The courts have held that if one of these cheques is taken by a passenger and he reads it he is bound thereby. This is a contract between carrier and passenger, consequently he is bound by the figures mentioned under ordinary circumstances. This rule is just and is based on a good reason. As every one knows, whenever a trunk is lost it is very difficult for the carrier to get any proof of the real value of its contents. All the evidence is in the hands of the passenger. If he is without a conscience and apparently proves that the things in it were worth $200 or $300, he may succeed in getting this much, although it might have been full of shavings. It is because of much experience of this kind that carriers have tried to limit the amount for which they will be responsible, and so long as they do this in a fair, open way the law regards their conduct with favour. If, however, a passenger receives such a cheque and at once puts it in his pocket and does not know its true nature, then the courts have held that he was not bound by any limit of this kind.

Again, a person has no business to put diamonds and rubies and jewellery and the like in his trunk. If he does and they are lost, he cannot compel the carrier to pay for them. The courts have said that passengers have no right to put such things in their trunks expecting to make carriers pay for them when they are lost. If there are things of unusual value in a trunk, the carrier should be informed or else the owner should assume the risk.

One word more. An express company is a common carrier and is bound by the same rules as other carriers except so far as such rules may be changed by definite contract. When a definite contract is made, then the rules of ordinary carriers do not apply.

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