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Limousine Fire Highlights Inadequacies in Regulation of Livery Industry

A fatal limousine fire in California earlier this month has highlighted inadequacies in the regulation of the limousine and livery industry. The fire, which broke out on the San Mateo Bridge, took the lives of five women who were part of a bachelorette party. The limousine driver and four other women, two of whom suffered serious injuries, were able to escape.

The fatal incident has brought to light several regulation shortcomings that can lead to safety hazards for limousines and other hired vehicles. According to Mercury News, California does not perform safety inspections of smaller limousines in the way that it does for buses or for-hire vans. Moreover, California does not have any laws regarding the methods for converting regular-sized cars into stretch limos. Many times, smaller vehicles are cut in half in private garages and then lengthened with a long passenger cabin, which safety experts say adds stress to the critical vehicle components such as the fuel line and electrical wiring.

In the wake of the accident, California State Sen. Jerry Hill introduced a bill requiring that limousines with a seating capacity of less than 10 passengers be equipped with readily accessible and fully charged fire extinguishers.

If a person is injured or dies while riding in a limousine, he or she may be entitled to compensation in a personal injury lawsuit against the negligent motorist, limousine driver, or limousine company. If a limousine accident is caused by a vehicle defect, the manufacturer of the limousine could also be held liable for any resulting injuries or deaths in a product liability lawsuit.

The following are recommendations for anyone considering hiring a limousine for a special occasion:

  • Don't let price be your only consideration; look at safety records. Consumers can look up safety records for companies that are authorized to transport passengers across state lines on this federal site:

  • Check with state agency responsible for safety regulations. In Illinois, the Secretary of State oversees regulation and monitoring of the limousine industry.

  • Confirm that the limo company you plan to hire has insurance and is licensed to operate. Illinois limousine drivers are required to obtain a special license and to display Livery license plates on their vehicles. Moreover, limousine companies are required to obtain a minimum amount of liability coverage.

  • Obtain a written agreement listing the cost and deposit required, as well as refund and tipping policies, pick-up/drop-off times, arrival and departure locations, type of vehicle requested, and specific services.

The Chicago motor vehicle accident attorneys at Steinberg, Goodman & Kalish are dedicated to protecting the rights of those injured in motor vehicle accidents, including auto accidents, trucking accidents, bus accidents, and limousine accidents. We are dedicated to promoting motorist and passenger safety through adequate regulations and stringent liability for negligence.

If you have been injured or a loved one has died in a limousine, taxicab, or other motor vehicle accident, you may be entitled to money damages. To learn more, contact our office at (312) 782-1386 to schedule a free consultation with one of our knowledgeable Chicago motor vehicle accident lawyers.


Steinberg Goodman & Kalish  ( is dedicated to protecting victims and their families.  We handle medical malpractice, product liability, personal injury, wrongful death, auto accidents, professional negligence, birth trauma, and railroad law matters. Contact us at (800) 784-0150 or (312) 782-1386.

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