California Limousine Injury Attorney
More About this Specialized Area of Tort Law.
Limousines, limo buses, and charter party carriers usually get treated the same under the law. Also, they are legally allowed to provide alcohol to passengers while the vehicle rolls. Often, charter limos have full wet bars in the back of their transports. But this can be a severe problem when hired for a high school prom or Quinceanera.
Because of this, minors could have access to that booze. So the limo operator needs to stow the alcohol in the trunk to keep it from the children. Recently, an intoxicated woman jumped out of a moving limo on the freeway. In another case, several women were burned to death in a highly publicized rear passenger compartment fire. Michael Ehline was interviewed in that case here.
Another possibility comes from Michael Ehline, an attorney specializing in limousine law.
'He wonders if the air bladders keeping the tires from scraping against the wheel wells in the 14-year-old limousine might have deflated.
"What will happen is those rear tires can scrape against the rear wheel wells and remember tires are made out of petroleum products. Once it gets to flashpoint the tire will literally ignite and that heat build up next to that gas tank can actually ignite that gas tank," Ehline said.'
Limo companies and other common carriers have a higher duty of care. So they must go beyond what an average, non-licensed person would do when driving a friend home.
Limo companies have a special duty to prevent issues, such as:
- Motorcycle accidents can be caused by blind spots on a limo, causing severe injury or death to the cycle rider.
- Bicycle accidents are very similar to motorcycle accidents. Also, they can cause deglove injuries or amputation.
- Car accidents can cause sheet metal in a passenger car to break apart. In turn, this can sliver in a collision with a large limo. So this can cut victims’ bodies with lacerations. Also, it can cause passengers to be tossed out of the vehicle if not buckled.
- Pedestrian accidents with victims getting hit in a crosswalk can lead to friction burns, road rash, or worse.
- Limo overcrowding accidents get seen in more detail below. But too heavy a vehicle with too many people inside can cause increased accidents.
- Limos operating within California get regulated by the Public Utilities Commission or PUC. Also, the California Highway Patrol (CHP) enforces regulations. But all interstate transportation gets governed by the federal Department of Transportation or DOT.
If you or a loved one has become injured due to a limousine crash, a specialized attorney becomes needed. Because of the complexity of the case, you call Ehline Law Firm. California's livery law contains a whole body of commercial rules and regulations.
So it focuses on dealing with vehicles carrying multiple passengers. The livery laws apply to limos the same way laws applied to the boarding and care of horses in the past. Today, it deals with relevant larger carriage vehicles, including limos, buses, and boats. (Free Dictionary.)
What the California Legislature and DMV Say About Limousine Law & Regulations:
“SECTION 1. Section 27315 of the California Vehicle Code is amended to read: 27315. (a(2) The operator of a limousine for hire or the operator of an authorized emergency vehicle, as defined in subdivision (a) of Section 165, shall not operate the limousine for hire or authorized emergency vehicle unless the operator and any passengers four years of age or over and weighing 40 pounds or more, in the front seat are properly restrained by a safety belt. . .” “(f) Every owner of a motor vehicle, including every owner or operator of a taxicab, as defined in Section 27908, or a limousine for hire, operated on a highway shall maintain safety belts in good working order for the use of occupants of the vehicle. The safety belts shall conform to motor vehicle safety standards established by the United States Department of Transportation. This subdivision does not, however, require installation or maintenance of safety belts where not required by the laws of the United States applicable to the vehicle at the time of its initial sale.”
Multiple types of vehicles, including charter buses, sightseeing buses, limos, airport buses, and mass transit buses can be limousines. But school buses and others such as Uber Black, all have the potential to be held to higher standards of care when transporting passengers for hire.
Our expertly trained and aggressive attorneys have vast experience in the field of limousine law. Hence, we can assist the victim in working through the medical and legal issues commonly following an accident of this type. Also, the DMV lets customers check on particulars of the law at (916) 657-8153 or visit its Web site at www.dmv.ca.gov.
What Is Common Carrier Liability and Its Significance?
In short, a common carrier is a “carrier of persons for reward.” Under ordinary negligence principles, a person is negligent if he owed duties of “reasonable care” to another person, and that duty got breached. Next, the breach had to cause damages like broken bones, a type of orthopedic injury. Sometimes a “reasonable” duty of care is harder to prove.
But if a person is a common carrier, it owes a heightened duty of attention. And this greater duty is far beyond an ordinary, “reasonable” obligation. Typically it is a special duty because the person is a professional like a doctor, lawyer, or taxi driver with special training in their field. Because of this special duty, when the duty is breached, it is much harder for the negligent tortfeasor to escape liability. Thus, at summary judgment, the case moves forward because the court allows a jury to hear the matter and be the decider of fault.
Common carrier liability can sidestep a common refrain from insurance companies. These Fortune 500 companies love to argue that a limo case is a junk lawsuit. But according to the California Supreme Court, even a ride at an amusement park can be subject to common carrier liability.
For example, the Indiana Jones ride at Disneyland is subject to common carrier liability. This heightened responsibility is also seen in Gomez v. The Walt Disney Co., WL 1404420 (Cal. June 16, 2005). Any “carrier of persons for reward,” must use the utmost care and diligence for safe carriage. So they must provide everything necessary for that purpose.
Also, they must exercise to that end, a reasonable degree of skill. As quoted from the Cal. Civ. Code Sec. 2100, Carriers must “provide vehicles safe and fit for the purpose to which they are put.” Also, no excuse exists for default in this respect by any degree of care. (Cal. Civ. Code Sec. 2101.)
Under state law, common carriers include limo companies. Hence, they have to maintain physical damage coverage. Also, they may need general liability coverage and worker’s compensation coverage. They may need garage liability coverage, and garage keeper’s legal liability coverage. Last, some may have to purchase excess/umbrella liability coverage, property coverage, among others. As of 2006, except for Class C charter-party carriers, limos must maintain specific insurance coverage. So they need at least $750,000 for seven passengers or less.
Furthermore, they will need $1,500,000 for 8 to 15 passengers. Also, they will need $5,000,000 for 16 passengers or more. The minimum coverage for Class C charter-party carriers is $750,000. And his requirement remains mandatory regardless of the vehicle's seating capacity. For additional information, see General Order 101. This order applies to PSCs or General Order 115, as pertains to TCPs.
Common Carriers must file evidence of insurance coverage in the state of California. Minimum liability insurance limits vary by type of carrier and other factors. Also, proof of insurance coverage must be registered with the California Public Utilities Commission, or PUC. Any for-hire passenger carrier with employee chauffeurs must present coverage proof on demand. For example, they must provide evidence of worker’s compensation coverage and liability coverages.
So they must file a certificate of insurance (Commission form TL-938) or a certificate of consent to self-insure. The certification gets issued by the Department of Industrial Relations. Minimum coverage limits are available in the PUC general orders. They can get seen in the General Orders, for example, General Order 115.
California Limousines Regulation Enforcement Remains the Responsibility of Several Government Agencies Depending on Intrastate or Interstate Regulations?
Yes. Both federal and state laws come into play with limousines. The DMV and Public Utilities Commission (PUC) differentiate between “PSG” and “MTR” classes. Motor carriers of passengers are known as PSG regs. But Motor Carriers of Property get called MTR. Common Carriers go by the designations PSC– by passenger stage corporations.
However, there is also TCP– by charter-party carriers or Cal-T– by household goods carriers. Mostly, we see these number decals on the rear and front bumpers of limousines. And this helps the CHP, as well as LAX Airport Police, keep track of these different types of transports in their various enforcement jurisdictions.
In most cases, California passenger transports for hire must get approved and permitted by the PUC. But several companies are exempt from these State requirements. Of special interest, taxi and ambulance services are locally regulated based upon the city and county of operations. The location of these regulations is in California Public Utilities Code Sections 226 and 5353. Of particular interest, the PUC issues PSC permits/certificates as well as charter-party carrier/TCP permits/certificates.
These are different from each other in many ways. For example, a PSC allows transportation services to the general public on a paid fare basis. The PSC operator usually works a “fixed” route. So they typically have a regular schedule, such as airport shuttles.
TCP charters, as most limos are, are usually prearranged. Usually, they are exclusive and akin to private party transport. These are often round trip excursions, such as in wine tasting tours or sightseeing.
An MC number is a requirement for interstate transportation. Federal law mandates such a permit get issued before a limousine carrier for hire can leave the jurisdiction of California, as often seen on trips to Las Vegas.
The Aftermath of a Limousine Accident.
When faced with a limo accident leading to injury, you must understand what you may recover. Most of all, you can get lost wages and money for mental anguish. Your jury award will typically consist of compensation for physical pain and suffering. But in addition to emotional and physical distress, you are also entitled to seek compensation for reasonable costs of medical care and bills. Also, in extraordinary situations, you can even get punitive damages, such as when a chauffer rapes or assaults a passenger.
Steps to Take in Bringing Your Limo Case.
First, the police must know to create a record and take witness statements. But you must avoid speaking with an insurance company while unrepresented. Adjusters are famous for trying to use it against you. Hence, they can twist your words into making it appears that you were not hurt or that you were responsible.
But do take an ambulance to the hospital to get x-rays, an MRI, and a full physical examination. Don’t wait for the situation to get worse. Getting a swift medical checkup will create evidence in your case that can help you later. Always, if faced with physical or sexual assault, make sure you get a police report and medical help.
Next, contact an attorney immediately. Our lead attorney, Michael Ehline, has experience from owning and operating a limo company. So he brings the knowledge necessary to take your claim to victory. We fight for our clients to help right this terrible situation.
Hire the Best Limousine Accident Attorneys Now!
There’s a reason many people consider us California’s best limousine accident attorneys. These accidents occur while traveling back and forth from proms, parties, weddings, or other events. So knowledge of the laws and regulations from the PUC and DOT is vital in getting your life back on track. Call us for a free consultation today at (213) 596-9642.