When the news carries a story of a California limousine accident, it invokes an image of people having the time of their life, suddenly ruined by tragedy. It may be a wedding, a night on the town, a trip to wine country or a ride to the airport for a long awaited vacation. Such was the case in Santa Clarita on August 1, 2015.
A limousine carrying ten people, including the driver, crashed into a car that was stopped in the road. The excessive weight of the limousine made it impossible for the driver to stop in time. The vehicle that was stopped went out of control and struck a third vehicle. Eleven people were injured in the accident five of which were critical. Police reports indicated that the limousine passengers were unrestrained.
When you hire a limousine as your mode of transportation, it is reasonable to expect a safe ride. However California limousine accidents do occur and they can be devastating to passengers involved.
Fortunately, most California limousine accidents are not as catastrophic as the Santa Clarita case. But injuries are still relatively common due several factors. Stretch limousines are heavier than standard sedans due to their modifications and greater amount of passengers. This extra weight requires a longer braking distance. Rear end collisions are the leading type of limousine accidents. Limousines are also difficult to maneuver because of their long bodies, leading to parked car strikes; the second most common type of accident. Limousines often exceed the speed limit in order to reach their destinations on time. They are frequently seen traveling at high speeds in the far left lane of highways.
Passengers in limousines are often unrestrained by seat belts and may be moving about when an accident happens. They may receive head or neck injuries, sprains or fractures from even a low speed impact. Many passengers are also seated sideways with their backs to the wall of the interior. This makes them extremely vulnerable to a side impact from another vehicle, which was the case in a well-publicized crash on Long Island, New York where four young women were killed when the limo in which they were riding was broadsided by a pick up truck while making a turn.
Common Carrier Responsibility
Under California law, a limousine is considered a common carrier. A common carrier is defined as an individual or company that offers transportation of people or goods for money. A common carrier is required to provide safe means of transportation for passengers. A limousine company could be liable for their driver’s negligence in the event of an accident.
An injured passenger can sue the limo driver and the limo company for their injuries if they are able to prove negligence. For the establishment of negligence the plaintiff must show that the defendant owed the plaintiff a duty to exercise reasonable care, the defendant breached that duty, and serious injuries resulted from that breach. How a prudent person would act in the same or similar circumstances defines reasonable care. In addition the injured passenger may be able to sue another driver if the limo driver was not at fault or partially at fault.
Following a California Limousine Accident
A successful negligence claim may award the plaintiff compensation for medical bills, pain and suffering, as well as lost income. The amount of the award can vary greatly depending upon the circumstances of the individual case. If you were injured in a California limousine accident it is important to seek the help of a skilled California accident attorney. Unraveling the details in any motor vehicle accident requires the skills of an expert. California limousine accidents are no exception. There are several different permits from different agencies required by common carriers depending on interstate or intrastate travel. Insurance requirements also vary from one class of common carrier to another. A qualified attorney will be knowledgeable in these areas.
If you are injured in a limousine accident you must avoid speaking to insurance claims adjusters without proper legal representation. They are not acting in your best interest but in the interest of the insurance company. They are well known for using injured parties words against them. Do not refuse medical attention. Take the ride to the hospital and get thoroughly checked through an MRI or x-ray. This will put a time and date stamp on your injuries to help your case.
Vititoe Law Group is a California personal injury law firm whose attorneys specialize in motor vehicle accidents of all kinds, including California limousine accidents. If you or a loved one were hurt in a limousine accident reach out to Vititoe Law Group to discuss your options. Call 818-991-8900 for a free initial consultation.