Generally speaking, the same rights and protections afforded passengers of other common carriers are extended to bus and rail travelers, as bus and rail systems are also considered “common carriers.” Often, bus and rail tours are integral parts of total “package tours” arranged by a single tour operator or sponsor. U.S. based tour operators may not disclaim liability for injuries caused by their own negligence or the negligence of their agents or employees, but they may disclaim liability for injuries caused by a foreign supplier. Such disclaimers may be overcome by the application of certain theories of liability such as the following:
- Breach of warranty of safety: This may occur if the bus or rail tour operator promises that a particular travel service will be rendered in a safe manner, such as statements that recreational areas are “perfectly safe,” or that buildings are “suitable for disabled persons.”
- Negligent supervision: this theory applies for escorted tours handled by “qualified” or “trained” (etc.) tour directors or guides. When injuries occur as the result of the negligence of the guide, bus and rail tour companies may be held liable for negligent supervision, negligent hiring or selection, etc.
- Assumed ownership or control: this theory may apply in a minority of jurisdictions that hold tour operators liable for negligent travel services if they incorporate possessive language such as “our” or “we” when describing the availability or quality of travel services.
- Negligent or unreasonable exposure to risk: a minority of jurisdictions permit causes of action premised on a tour operator’s failure to design or prepare an itinerary with safety risks considered, such as disease epidemics, political unrest, or inclement weather (for which the tour should be canceled or delayed).
- Motor vehicle accidents involving fault of a bus tour driver almost always results in liability on the part of the tour operators or providers.