SUBSECTION 1. General Provisions
Article 1732. Common carriers are persons, corporations, firms or associations engaged in the business of carrying or transporting passengers or goods or both, by land, water, or air, for compensation, offering their services to the public.
Article 1733. Common carriers, from the nature of their business and for reasons of public policy, are bound to observe extraordinary diligence in the vigilance over the goods and for the safety of the passengers transported by them, according to all the circumstances of each case.
Such extraordinary diligence in the vigilance over the goods is further expressed in articles 1734, 1735, and 1745, Nos. 5, 6, and 7, while the extraordinary diligence for the safety of the passengers is further set forth in articles 1755 and 1756.
SUBSECTION 2. Vigilance Over Goods
Article 1734. Common carriers are responsible for the loss, destruction, or deterioration of the goods, unless the same is due to any of the following causes only:
(1) Flood, storm, earthquake, lightning, or other natural disaster or calamity;
(2) Act of the public enemy in war, whether international or civil;
(3) Act or omission of the shipper or owner of the goods;
(4) The character of the goods or defects in the packing or in the containers;
(5) Order or act of competent public authority.
Article 1735. In all cases other than those mentioned in Nos. 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5 of the preceding article, if the goods are lost, destroyed or deteriorated, common carriers are presumed to have been at fault or to have acted negligently, unless they prove that they observed extraordinary diligence as required in article 1733.
Article 1736. The extraordinary responsibility of the common carrier lasts from the time the goods are unconditionally placed in the possession of, and received by the carrier for transportation until the same are delivered, actually or constructively, by the carrier to the consignee, or to the person who has a right to receive them, without prejudice to the provisions of article 1738.
Article 1737. The common carrier’s duty to observe extraordinary diligence over the goods remains in full force and effect even when they are temporarily unloaded or stored in transit, unless the shipper or owner has made use of the right of stoppage in transitu.
Article 1738. The extraordinary liability of the common carrier continues to be operative even during the time the goods are stored in a warehouse of the carrier at the place of destination, until the consignee has been advised of the arrival of the goods and has had reasonable opportunity thereafter to remove them or otherwise dispose of them.
Article 1739. In order that the common carrier may be exempted from responsibility, the natural disaster must have been the proximate and only cause of the loss. However, the common carrier must exercise due diligence to prevent or minimize loss before, during and after the occurrence of flood, storm or other natural disaster in order that the common carrier may be exempted from liability for the loss, destruction, or deterioration of the goods. The same duty is incumbent upon the common carrier in case of an act of the public enemy referred to in article 1734, No. 2.
Article 1740. If the common carrier negligently incurs in delay in transporting the goods, a natural disaster shall not free such carrier from responsibility.
Article 1741. If the shipper or owner merely contributed to the loss, destruction or deterioration of the goods, the proximate cause thereof being the negligence of the common carrier, the latter shall be liable in damages, which however, shall be equitably reduced.
Article 1742. Even if the loss, destruction, or deterioration of the goods should be caused by the character of the goods, or the faulty nature of the packing or of the containers, the common carrier must exercise due diligence to forestall or lessen the loss.
Article 1743. If through the order of public authority the goods are seized or destroyed, the common carrier is not responsible, provided said public authority had power to issue the order.
Article 1744. A stipulation between the common carrier and the shipper or owner limiting the liability of the former for the loss, destruction, or deterioration of the goods to a degree less than extraordinary diligence shall be valid, provided it be:
(1) In writing, signed by the shipper or owner;
(2) Supported by a valuable consideration other than the service rendered by the common carrier; and
(3) Reasonable, just and not contrary to public policy.
Article 1745. Any of the following or similar stipulations shall be considered unreasonable, unjust and contrary to public policy:
(1) That the goods are transported at the risk of the owner or shipper;
(2) That the common carrier will not be liable for any loss, destruction, or deterioration of the goods;
(3) That the common carrier need not observe any diligence in the custody of the goods;
(4) That the common carrier shall exercise a degree of diligence less than that of a good father of a family, or of a man of ordinary prudence in the vigilance over the movables transported;
(5) That the common carrier shall not be responsible for the acts or omission of his or its employees;
(6) That the common carrier’s liability for acts committed by thieves, or of robbers who do not act with grave or irresistible threat, violence or force, is dispensed with or diminished;
(7) That the common carrier is not responsible for the loss, destruction, or deterioration of goods on account of the defective condition of the car, vehicle, ship, airplane or other equipment used in the contract of carriage.
Article 1746. An agreement limiting the common carrier’s liability may be annulled by the shipper or owner if the common carrier refused to carry the goods unless the former agreed to such stipulation.
Article 1747. If the common carrier, without just cause, delays the transportation of the goods or changes the stipulated or usual route, the contract limiting the common carrier’s liability cannot be availed of in case of the loss, destruction, or deterioration of the goods.
Article 1748. An agreement limiting the common carrier’s liability for delay on account of strikes or riots is valid.
Article 1749. A stipulation that the common carrier’s liability is limited to the value of the goods appearing in the bill of lading, unless the shipper or owner declares a greater value, is binding.
Article 1750. A contract fixing the sum that may be recovered. by the owner or shipper for the loss, destruction, or deterioration of the goods is valid, if it is reasonable and just under the circumstances, and has been fairly and freely agreed upon.
Article 1751. The fact that the common carrier has no competitor along the line or route, or a part thereof, to which the contract refers shall be taken into consideration on the question of whether or not a stipulation limiting the common carrier’s liability is reasonable, just and in consonance with public policy.
Article 1752. Even when there is an agreement limiting the liability of the common carrier in the vigilance over the goods, the common carrier is disputably presumed to have been negligent in case of their loss, destruction or deterioration.
Article 1753. The law of the country to which the goods are to be transported shall govern the liability of the common carrier for their loss, destruction or deterioration.
Article 1754. The provisions of articles 1733 to 1753 shall apply to the passenger’s baggage which is not in his personal custody or in that of his employee. As to other baggage, the rules in articles 1998 and 2000 to 2003 concerning the responsibility of hotel-keepers shall be applicable.
SUBSECTION 3. Safety of Passengers
Article 1755. A common carrier is bound to carry the passengers safely as far as human care and foresight can provide, using the utmost diligence of very cautious persons, with a due regard for all the circumstances.
Article 1756. In case of death of or injuries to passengers, common carriers are presumed to have been at fault or to have acted negligently, unless they prove that they observed extraordinary diligence as prescribed in articles 1733 and 1755.
Article 1757. The responsibility of a common carrier for the safety of passengers as required in articles 1733 and 1755 cannot be dispensed with or lessened by stipulation, by the posting of notices, by statements on tickets, or otherwise.
Article 1758. When a passenger is carried gratuitously, a stipulation limiting the common carrier’s liability for negligence is valid, but not for willful acts or gross negligence.
The reduction of fare does not justify any limitation of the common carrier’s liability.
Article 1759. Common carriers are liable for the death of or injuries to passengers through the negligence or willful acts of the former’s employees, although such employees may have acted beyond the scope of their authority or in violation of the orders of the common carriers.
This liability of the common carriers does not cease upon proof that they exercised all the diligence of a good father of a family in the selection and supervision of their employees.
Article 1760. The common carrier’s responsibility prescribed in the preceding article cannot be eliminated or limited by stipulation, by the posting of notices, by statements on the tickets or otherwise.
Article 1761. The passenger must observe the diligence of a good father of a family to avoid injury to himself.
Article 1762. The contributory negligence of the passenger does not bar recovery of damages for his death or injuries, if the proximate cause thereof is the negligence of the common carrier, but the amount of damages shall be equitably reduced.
Article 1763. A common carrier is responsible for injuries suffered by a passenger on account of the willful 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.
SUBSECTION 4. Common Provisions
Article 1764. Damages in cases comprised in this Section shall be awarded in accordance with Title XVIII of this Book, concerning Damages. Article 2206 shall also apply to the death of a passenger caused by the breach of contract by a common carrier.
Article 1765. The Public Service Commission may, on its own motion or on petition of any interested party, after due hearing, cancel the certificate of public convenience granted to any common carrier that repeatedly fails to comply with his or its duty to observe extraordinary diligence as prescribed in this Section.
Article 1766. In all matters not regulated by this Code, the rights and obligations of common carriers shall be governed by the Code of Commerce and by special laws.