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The mere showing of injury to a fare-paying passenger on a public conveyance and his failure to reach his destination safely establishes a prima facie case of negligence and imposes the burden on the carrier of convincingly overcoming such case. A public carrier of passengers while not an insurer is required to exercise the highest degree of vigilance, care and precaution for the safety of those it undertakes to transport and is liable for the slightest negligence. The carrier must do all that human sagacity and foresight can do under the circumstances, in view of the character and mode of conveyance adopted, to prevent injury to passengers, the carrier being held liable for the slightest negligence with reference to the exercise of such care.
As a result of an accident between a bus and a car in an intersection, the plaintiff passenger received injuries. After the collision, the passenger allegedly accepted a settlement of the case with the car driver's insurer. The plaintiff passenger contended that the accident was caused by the concurrent negligence of the bus driver and the car driver. After judgment was entered in favor of the plaintiff passenger, an appeal was taken. The appellate court reduced the award to the plaintiff passenger and dismissed the action against the car driver and his insurer. The appellate court noted that the plaintiff passenger signed a compromise which barred her action against the car driver and his insurer. The passenger, the bus driver, and the employer then filed a petition for writ of certiorari. The bus driver and the employer challenged the determination that the bus driver was negligent. The passenger also appealed from the dismissal of her action against defendants.
The court determined that the bus driver and his employer had the burden of overcoming the negligence established by the passenger's failure to reach her destination. A public carrier was required to exercise the highest degree of care and was liable for the slightest negligence. The bus driver's complete lack of awareness of the approaching car was sufficient to justify the conclusion that he was not maintaining a proper lookout. Anent the second issue, the court held that the release signed by the passenger was not valid because she was told that the contract had nothing to do with her case. Accordingly, the court set aside the dismissal of the passenger's action against the car driver and his insurer.