JOSE PILAPIL vs. COURT OF APPEALS and ALATCO TRANSPORTATION COMPANY, INC.
(G.R. No. 52159, December 22, 1989)
Petitioner Pilapil, on board respondent’s bus was hit above his eye by a stone hurled by an unidentified bystander. Respondent’s personnel lost no time in bringing him to a hospital, but eventually petitioner partially lost his left eye’s vision and sustained a permanent scar.
Thus, Petitioner lodged an action for recovery of damages before the Court of First Instance of Camarines Sur which the latter granted. On appeal, the Court of Appeals reversed said decision.
Whether or not common carriers assume risks to passengers such as the stoning in this case?
In consideration of the right granted to it by the public to engage in the business of transporting passengers and goods, a common carrier does not give its consent to become an insurer of any and all risks to passengers and goods. It merely undertakes to perform certain duties to the public as the law imposes, and holds itself liable for any breach thereof.
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While the law requires the highest degree of diligence from common carriers in the safe transport of their passengers and creates a presumption of negligence against them, it does not, however, make the carrier an insurer of the absolute safety of its passengers.
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Article 1763. A common carrier is responsible for injuries suffered by a passenger on account of the wilful acts or negligence of other passengers or of strangers, if the common carrier's employees through the exercise of the diligence of a good father of a family could have prevented or stopped the act or omission.
Clearly under the above provision, a tort committed by a stranger which causes injury to a passenger does not accord the latter a cause of action against the carrier. The negligence for which a common carrier is held responsible is the negligent omission by the carrier's employees to prevent the tort from being committed when the same could have been foreseen and prevented by them. Further, under the same provision, it is to be noted that when the violation of the contract is due to the willful acts of strangers, as in the instant case, the degree of care essential to be exercised by the common carrier for the protection of its passenger is only that of a good father of a family.