A carrier of passengers for hire must exercise more than ordinary diligence for their protection. Its duty stops just short of insuring their safety. It is bound to protect its passengers as far as human care and foresight goes and is liable for slight negligence. The high degree of care must be exercised in foreseeing, as well as in guarding against, danger.
When the car turned directly in front of the bus, the driver applied his brakes and laid down six feet of skid marks. A passenger brought suit against the bus company for personal injuries from a common carrier bus-automobile accident. She had been riding on the bus when an automobile turned left directly in front of it. The trial court submitted failure to keep a proper lookout, failure to have the bus under control, and excessive speed as issues of negligence. The bus company argued the accident was solely due to the car and the collision would have occurred regardless of the speed of the bus. Moreover, the jury lacked proper instructions on concurrent proximate causes.
Did the jury lack proper instructions on concurrent proximate causes?
Given the high degree of care demanded of common carriers and the evidence, the court held the trial court was correct in submitting the various specifications of negligence to the jury. The court determined that an instruction on sole proximate cause should have been given just as the passenger was entitled to an instruction on concurrent proximate causes. In granting a new trial, the trial court explained that it inadvertently failed to instruct the jury that the bus driver was entitled to assume that all others using the highway obeyed the law and it believed the omission was prejudicial. The court explained that the failure to object to the instruction did not prevent consideration of whether the ruling was an abuse of the trial court's discretion under Iowa R. Civ. P. 344(f)(4).