Regardless of how comfortable your limo is, that does not necessarily mean that it is safe. In reality, the average limousine size and the number of individuals they are capable of carrying at a given time make them even more dangerous compared to other vehicles. For limo passengers, other motorists on the roadway, and nearby walkers, this implies that a limousine crash will almost at all times lead to severe injuries to the ones involved.
If you suffer injuries as a result of a limo crash in Los Angeles, you may qualify for compensation for all the inconveniences you go through. At The LA Personal Injury Law Firm, our attorneys are readily available to help you recover fair compensation. We have successfully represented many accident victims, including those involved in truck accidents, motorcycle crashes, and car accidents, not to mention the pedestrians that have been injured by vehicles. You can always trust us to work tirelessly in ensuring that you get adequate compensation for your injuries, losses, and damages.
Understanding California Limo Safety Laws in case of an Accident that Leads to Catastrophic Injuries
The state of California has strict insurance, licensing, and operation rules for limo services.
- Limo licensing - Limo companies are required to have a special operating license that’s issued by the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC). The license is referred to as TCP or Charter-Party Carrier. For the companies to be able to get the license, they have to give detailed information on all autos that’ll be used for transporting clients all over the state. CPUC should be informed whenever the limo company adds a new automobile to the fleet. The company will be given a special permit which relates to seating capacity. Limo companies shouldn’t transport several clients in one vehicle than the TCP permit allows. Those companies that desire to utilize modified limos should apply for additional permits and licenses.
- Insurance requirements - In California, all limos have to be insured. There are minimum insurance requirements that depend on the limousine size and seating capacity.
- Motorist restrictions - All limo drivers need to have licenses, and they have to adhere to all the state’s vehicle code requirements and the state’s code of regulations. Motorists should either have the TCP permit or authority. Or they should be under the complete direction, control, and supervision of the particular operating carrier. Put otherwise, the driver should obtain CPUC permits or otherwise work for authorized limousine companies. New laws restrict the period a modified limo driver can drive at a given time. In several cases, a limousine driver can’t drive for over ten hours at a given time after resting for eight hours.
New Safety Rules for Modified Limousines in California
Several companies utilize modified limos. The definition of a modified limo is provided under CVC 378(b). It refers to any auto that has been altered, extended, or modified in a way that elevates the general vehicle wheelbase, exceeding the original manufacturer’s specifications in an amount enough to accommodate more passengers. Modified limos that operate in California cannot transport over ten passengers, including the motorist.
Due to a couple of fatal limo accidents in 2013, California legislatures diverted their attention to the legal treatment of modified limousines. New laws changed how limo companies could operate. As per these new rules, modified limos have to be:
- Made with five doors plus an emergency exit (roof hatch or pop-out windows)
- Retrofitted to have two additional exit points (a roof hatch and window or pop-out windows)
- Subject to frequent safety inspections after every thirteen months
- Make sure drivers comply with the strict restrictions of traveling
Under the old statutes, modified limos were not subject to scrutiny. Also, there were few requirements for oversight to make sure that automobiles were safely modified. These new laws aimed at protecting passengers that hire limousine services for traveling in and throughout California.
Common Limo Accidents that Can Result in Catastrophic Injuries
- Head-on collisions - Head-on collisions happen when the force is received in the front vehicle part, either at the front of its dimensions or at the center part. The impact might involve two vehicles being destroyed at their front part. Most limos install absorbers in bumpers as well as airbags that reduce the impact.
- Sideswipe - This occurs when the limousine hits one side of another auto. It mainly takes place at the road intersections. This kind of accident affects the doors, stirrup, and central parallels. To minimize this form of crash, most limousine manufacturers put protective bars on doors, and sophisticated side curtains together with airbags in the doors.
- Rear-end collisions - This type of accident happens most frequently. It occurs when the limousine is going at a faster speed compared to the auto in front and doesn’t maintain a secure distance from it, leading to the damaging of the limousine’s front and the rear part of the other involved vehicle.
Liability in a Limousine Accident
If you are involved in any collision, it is vital that you quickly determine the party that is responsible so your lawyer can pursue proper legal action. The parties that could be held accountable in a limo crash include:
- The limousine driver - Since most collisions usually arise from driver mistakes, it would make sense in many cases to presume that the limousine motorist is responsible. This could be because he/she fell asleep while driving, did not observe the laws of the traffic, or was driving under the influence. Having said this, usually, limo motorists are covered by the insurance of their employer. This opens another avenue of possible liability too.
- The limo company - Limousine companies are mainly accountable for the well-being and safety of their passengers and motorists. Any accident that involves a driver that is on duty when the crash takes place may technically place the company at fault as well. Also, limousine companies are accountable for the maintenance and upkeep of their automobiles. They may be to blame if they neglect their duty of maintaining vehicle safety standards.
- The limo manufacturers and sellers - Companies that make and sell limousines are held to particular standards, just like those companies that make and sell other types of autos. Should these companies be negligent in their obligation to produce safe products, they could be held liable in certain limo accidents too.
- The limousine maintenance company - In case a limousine company outsources maintenance duties to a third-party, and the party becomes negligent in their work, they might also be held liable if a limo crash occurs.
- Other motorists - In instances where the limousine driver was driving while observing the law, and their vehicle didn’t have any issue, it could be the fault of the other driver. This creates possible claims from the limousine company and their insurance, and from any victims that got hurt while riding inside the limousine involved in that crash.
- Other passengers - Because limos are mainly used for celebrations that involve several people, one or multiple persons may act specifically recklessly when riding in one, therefore exposing other passengers to danger. If a limo passenger is careless enough so that their conduct leads to a crash, you can file a personal injury claim against them.
Proving Responsibility in a Limo Accident
Common carriers don’t fall under strict liability laws. Therefore, a complainant in a common carrier claim like a limousine has to show that the particular carrier violated their duty of care of preventing injuries (i.e., it was negligent). After proving this, the plaintiff has then to show the violation of the duty of care was the precise reason for their claimed damages. It is also critical to provide evidence of the degree of the injuries for which you are seeking compensation in any claim.
Usually, violating the duty of care is proven in these ways:
- Driver fatigue
- Sleep deprivation. That is, lack of sleep due to grueling schedule
- Speeding, aggressive, or unsafe driving like swerving
- Inadequate training by limo company or careless hiring practices
- Lack of or improper maintenance
- Overloading of limos
- Manufacture defects
- Driving while intoxicated with alcohol or drugs
- Erratic behavior from the driver
- Distracted driving. Approximately 70% of motorists admit to the frequent use of mobile phones or infotainment systems to surf the internet or text while driving.
- Operating a limo service with no permit
- Lacking proper insurance
Common carriers have to operate with maximum care of diligence when passengers are aboard. Additionally, limo companies should provide autos that are in a safe condition and fit to transport passengers. Limousine company owners could be held responsible for injuries that are a result of their failure to provide a vehicle that is safe and maintained properly for use.
Duties Owed by Common Carriers
Limousine and other common carrier companies have a higher duty of care. Therefore, they have to act beyond how average non-licensed persons would do when driving passengers. Limousine companies have a specialized duty to avoid issues like:
- Motorcycle accidents - Motorcycle crashes can occur due to blind spots on a limousine, leading to severe injuries and sometimes the death of the motorcyclist.
- Bicycle crashes - Bicycle accidents are quite the same as motorcycle collisions. They also can result in severe injuries or amputations.
- Pedestrian accidents - When victims get knocked over in crosswalks, it can result in road rash, friction burns, or worse injuries.
- Car crashes - A car collision can lead to the sheet metal in the car breaking apart. This, in turn, may sliver in a collision with a large limousine. Thus, this may cut the bodies of the victims with lacerations. Additionally, it could also lead to passengers being ejected from the auto if they are not buckled.
- Limo overcrowding crashes - A vehicle that is too heavy with too many passengers inside could result in increased collisions.
Common Injuries that May Arise Due to a Limo Crash
Generally, passengers in a limousine don’t put on seat belts. This fact alone can lead to severe, permanent injuries beyond that which would be anticipated in a standard auto collision. When you consider the limo’s mass, the accident-related injuries are significantly more substantial in a limousine crash compared to a car collision.
To understand the extent of injuries in a limo collision, consider that which a car passenger would go through in case of a car accident, then to that, add the lack of wearing seat belts plus the increased impact involved in a limo accident. Limo accident injuries range from slight to severe, just like in other collisions. They include:
- Back injuries
- Amputations and severed limbs
- Neck injuries
- Injuries to the spinal cord
- Fractured bones
- Facial lacerations
- Head injuries, including brain damage and concussions
- Broken bones
- Cuts, bruises, and scrapes from broken wine bottles or glasses
- Traumatic brain injuries
- A separated shoulder that may arise from wet and slippery limo floors
- Soft tissue injuries that include back sprains and whiplash
- Leg and arm breaks or sprains
- Abdominal injuries
- Broken ribs and chest wounds
- Internal injuries
Steps to Take After a Limousine Crash
When a limo accident happens, anyone hurt needs to know his/her choices for legal action if the collision took place because of negligence. The steps you take determine your chances at compensation and the amount you will receive if you qualify. The various steps you should take after a limousine accident include:
- Call law enforcement. While you are still at the scene of the accident, call police officers and have them get to the scene. Ask them to document the crash before it’s cleared. Request for a copy of their report and keep it for you may need it for future reference, for instance, at trial. This report will contain information concerning the different parties that were involved in the crash. It could help your lawyer in determining who was responsible for the collision.
- Get urgent medical care for the injuries you suffered in the crash. Insist that your doctor carries out a complete assessment of your head, spinal, and back injuries and internal damage you may have. If a visit to the hospital isn’t necessary, visit a physician immediately after the crash. Several injuries won’t reveal themselves immediately, and it needs a specialist to detect them. Remember to document any medical report and the progress of your treatment. It will help determine the extent of your injuries, which in turn helps in determining the amount of compensation you will receive.
- Don’t admit anything, including being at fault to anyone without the presence of your personal injury attorney
- Exchange identifying details and insurance info with all the parties that have been involved in the collision
- Don’t communicate directly with the insurance adjusters of the liable party, their lawyers or representatives concerning the facts surrounding the incident without consulting with your attorney first. Talking to insurance providers or their investigators first before meeting your lawyer could ruin your case and lower the compensation amount that you’re capable of recovering. One way through which this could happen is that these parties might use the information you provide them against you.
- Collect proof - Take photos of the accident scene, your vehicle, and other autos involved as well as the injuries you suffered in the crash. Take note of any details you think might be critical and useful. If you do not have a camera, you can use your mobile phone to collect the evidence. Print out or email these photographs for safekeeping. Ensure you note the name as well as contact details of any person involved, including the limousine motorist, the limo passengers, and the passengers in other autos, if any. Try to puzzle out the facts surrounding the crash. For instance, ask yourself, where did the impact occur? Was there heavy traffic? What was the condition of the weather? These hints may help your lawyer to reconstruct crucial proof that may explain what happened. Also, gathering evidence is vital since you will need it when you file your claim or when your case goes to court.
- Don’t sign any forms of medical release without consulting with your limo accident personal injury lawyer
- Consult with a qualified lawyer - The other parties involved in the accident, including the driver, Limousine Company, or manufacturer may retain attorneys that specialize in defending limo accident cases. Reaching out to an attorney that boasts the knowledge and has resources to fight for you from the beginning to the end will provide you with the best chance to increase the compensation amount you’re owed from the liable parties.
Recoverable Damages in Limousine Accident Claims
The compensation you may be awarded should your limo accident personal injury claim becomes successful includes:
- Past, present, and future medical costs - This consists of the expenses of continuing therapy as well as disability-related bills. Medical expenses compensation can also cover costs like in-home rehabilitation services, costs you incurred in the emergency room, doctor visits, hospital visits, x-rays, MRI testing facility, dentists, chiropractors, radiologists, etc. Costs of any medical equipment like braces, crutches, wheelchairs, or medical devices purchased and used in the course of your recovery are also covered under medical expense compensation.
- Lost income - You can be awarded this if your injuries have caused you to miss a substantial period at work, or have made you incapable of performing your tasks. You may qualify for more lost income if the injuries leave you disabled permanently and incapable of finding consistent work.
- Loss of future earning capacity - Apart from present lost wages, you are entitled to receive compensation for future lost income if the injuries you sustained render you incapable of going back to work. Our attorneys will negotiate with the insurance provider of the at-fault party to obtain your deserved lost future income.
- Pain and suffering - In certain instances, the damages sustained from bodily pain or your suffering could be compensated so you can pay for your therapy treatments.
- Mental anguish - A limousine accident victim can be awarded damages for the mental suffering he/she goes through, including anxiety, depression, fright, grief, or trauma. You may be awarded mental anguish damages if it’s reasonable to presume that mental suffering will arise from the crash.
- Compensation for wrongful death - These damages are awarded in case the victim passes away. Wrongful death compensation includes funeral costs, burial expenses, medical costs from the time the victim was hospitalized to his/her death, loss of consortium, lost financial support, etc.
Other damages you can recover include:
- Emotional distress
- Loss of guidance
- Loss of consortium
- Loss of companionship
- Loss of enjoyment of life
Punitive compensations are granted in extreme cases whereby the injuries were as a result of another person’s recklessness. They are not awarded to the victim for his/her loss, but rather to punish the negligent defendant. They aim at discouraging the at-fault party and other parties from acting with a similar level of negligence again.
The Statute of Limitations to Bring a Limousine Accident Claim
The timeframe of filing a personal injury claim for the losses and injuries you sustained in a limo crash is two years from the time the accident took place. If you are bringing a property damage claim because your personal property was destroyed in the accident, then you have three years from the time the accident happened to do so. If the at-fault party is a government organization, you will have only six months from when the crash occurred to file your claim. If the government entity denies your claim, then you have another six months from the denial date to bring another claim.
Should you miss the deadline to file your claim, the chances of getting positive results after filing may be slim. For instance, the judge could dismiss your case, and your possibility of being compensated will be lost.
Find a Limousine Accident Personal Injury Attorney Near Me
After a limousine accident, you have to get legal representation immediately. An immediate investigation after a collision in a limo is the most critical stage of the process of obtaining compensation. At The LA Personal Injury Law Firm, we have several years of experience and have successfully recovered fair compensation for all our clients. We will gather solid proof to help you build a strong claim and negotiate with insurance companies, so you get the compensation you deserve to help you nurse your injuries and get your life back together again. If you are in Los Angeles, CA, and have been involved in an accident, contact us at 310-935-0089 as soon as possible, so we can help you work out the worth of your accident claim.