What legal responsibilities do railroads have to passengers?
Railroad companies have no responsibilities greater than they do towards their passengers. Railroads are considered “common carriers” – meaning that they offer transportation services to the public at large for a set fee. Common carriers are extremely liable for injuries to their own passengers, sometimes including injuries brought upon by third parties, depending on the circumstances. From boarding to exiting, trains must exercise absolute care with their passengers, or else they are potentially liable for any injury their passengers suffer, even if the railroad is only minimally at fault. Again, this includes many cases where the injury is brought upon by a third party, or dangerous weather conditions.
Careful operation, inspection, and maintenance of all railroad equipment and facilities is legally expected from railroads. Rail employees must be properly trained, professional, and cautious. Entrance and exit equipment such as handrails, doors, and steps must be safely designed and maintained.