G.R. No. L-20761, 27 July 1966, 17 SCRA 739
Plaintiffs, husband and wife, together with their three minor daughters (Milagros, 13 years old, Raquel, about 4 years old and Fe, 2 years old) boarded the Pambusco at San Fernando Pampanga, bound for Anao, Mexico, Pampanga. Such bus is owned and operated by the defendant.
They were carrying with them four pieces of baggage containing their personal belonging. The conductor of the b us issued three tickets covering the full fares of the plaintiff and their eldest child Milagros. No fare was charged on Raquel and Fe, since both were below the height which fare is charged in accordance with plaintiff’s rules and regulations.
After about an hour’s trip, the bus reached Anao where it stopped to allow the passengers bound therefore, among whom were the plaintiffs and their children to get off. Mariano Beltran, carrying some of their baggage was the first to get down the bus, followed by his wife and children. Mariano led his companion to a shaded spot on the left pedestrian side of the road about four or five meters away from the vehicle. Afterwards, he returned to the bus in controversy to get his paying, which he had left behind, but in so doing, his daughter followed him unnoticed by his father. While said Mariano Beltran was on he running board of the bus waiting for the conductor to hand him his bayong which he left under one its seats near the door, the bus, whose motor was not shut off while unloading suddenly started moving forward, evidently to resume its trip, notwithstanding the fact that the conductor was still attending to the baggage left behind by Mariano Beltran. Incidentally, when the bus was again placed in a complete stop, it had traveled about 10 meters from point where plaintiffs had gotten off.
Sensing the bus was again in motion; Mariano immediately jumped form the running board without getting his bayong from conductor. He landed on the side of the road almost board in front of the shaded place where he left his wife and his children. At that time, he saw people beginning to gather around the body of a child lying prostrate on the ground, her skull crushed, and without life. The child was none other than his daughter Raquel, who was run over by the bus in which she rode earlier together her parent.
For the death of the said child, plaintiffs comment the suit against the defendant to recover from the latter damages.
Whether or not the child was no longer the passenger of the bus involved in the incident, and therefore, the contract of carriage was already terminated?
There can be no controversy that as far as the father is concerned, when he returned to the bus for his bayong which was not unloaded, the relation of passenger and carrier between him and the petitioner remained subsisting. The relation of carrier and passenger does not necessarily cease where the latter, after alighting from the car aids the carrier’s servant or employee in removing his baggage from the car.
It is a rule that the relation of carrier and passenger does not cease the moment the passenger alights from the carrier’s vehicle at a place selected by the carrier at the point of destination but continues until the passenger has had a reasonable time or a reasonable opportunity to leave the carrier’s premises.
The father returned to the bus to get one of his baggages which was not unloaded when they alighted from the bus. Raquel must have followed her father. However, although the father was still on the running board of the bus awaiting for the conductor to hand him the bag or bayong, the bus started to run, so that even he had jumped down from the moving vehicle. It was that this instance that the child, who must be near the bus, was run over and killed. In the circumstances, it cannot be claimed that the carrier’s agent had exercised the “utmost diligence” of a “very cautious person” required by Article 1755 of the Civil Code to be observed by a common carrier in the discharge of its obligation to transport safely its passengers. The driver, although stopping the bus, nevertheless did not put off the engine. He started to run the bus even before the conductor gave him the signal to go and while the latter was still unloading part of the baggage of the passengers Beltran and family. The presence of the said passengers near the bus was not unreasonable and they are, therefore, to be considered still as passengers of the carrier, entitled to the protection under their contract of carriage.
*Case digest by Hipolito R. Bael, LLB-III, Andres Bonifacio Law School, SY 2018-2019