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In Light of Bachelorette Limo Fire, Safety is an Important Issue among Commercial Drivers

Five women died Saturday evening in San Mateo after the stretch limousine they were riding in was suddenly engulfed in flames. Four women and the driver escaped from the fire and treated for burns following the incident. The women were on their way to a bridal shower when the 1999 Lincoln Town Car caught fire. The source of the fire is still unknown.

The driver, Orville Brown, emerged unhurt from the accident and went home from the hospital early Sunday morning. Limo Stop, the company operating the limousine, is assisting the California Highway Patrol with the ongoing investigation and was unaware of any problems with the vehicle. The California Public Utilities Commission, which regulates limousine companies, said the company is licensed and insured.

“This incident is a terrible tragedy and my heart goes out to the families and friends of the victims. It is still unclear if the limo company had any previous safety or maintenance issues, but regardless safety is an important issue to consider when riding public transportation,” says Frank N. Darras, America’s top insurance lawyer.

In California, a driver must carry the following insurance minimums when being paid to drive passengers:

  • $500,000 for sedans 1-8 passenger
  • $750,000 for a stretch 1-8 passenger
  • $1.5 million for all other types of vehicles with 8-15 passengers
  • $5 million for limo-buses
  • $1 million liability, $100,000 property damage, and a deductible not greater than $10,000 for taxi services

Drivers must also get a Passenger Vehicle Endorsement from the DMV if driving a vehicle that can hold ten or more people. With the exception of taxi service, medical transport, and transportation within a city, drivers or companies must have a permit from the California Public Utilities Commission.

“Before using the services of any taxi or limo company, make sure to check that all requirements are fulfilled. However, don’t stop there. Check into the company’s safety record and ask about the requirements for drivers. Most reputable transportation companies have strict requirements that drivers must meet before being hired,” says Darras.

Safety should be a top priority for any night out. Do not overload the maximum capacity for any limo. While California has some of the highest requirements for commercial transportation providers, it’s always a good idea to evaluate each company before signing a contract.

“In the end, the safety of all passengers is more important than any amount of fun planned for a night out. Be responsible by picking a responsible company,” says Darras.

DarrasLaw is Americas' most honored and decorated disability litigation firm in the country. Mr. Darras has seen more, evaluated more, litigated more, and resolved more individual and group long term disability and long-term care cases than any other lawyer in the United States.

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