Are Limousine drivers and the companies they work for liable for a limousine accident they cause? Is it safe to take a limo home from holiday parties and celebrations? It's a good idea to know the answers to these questions if you are considering taking a limo or shuttle home from holiday parties instead of driving your personal vehicle this season. While taking a limousine is most certainly safer than driving home after a few drinks, it is not an entirely safe way to travel and limousine drivers and their employers can be liable for injuries and wrongful deaths suffered by their passengers in an automobile accident.
Limousine drivers in Kansas can utilize their regular driver's license while operating a limousine. However, if the limousine driver operates a vehicle that transports 16 passengers or more, such as a limousine shuttle bus, they are required to obtain a Class C Commercial Driver's License. Drivers and companies that employ them without this license are guilty of negligent hiring practices which they can be held liable for when an accident occurs. This can include negligent hiring, negligent training, negligent supervision, failure to create a safety plan and similar types of independent causes of actions.
Limousine companies and their drivers have a duty of care that includes properly maintaining the vehicle and its components. They violate this duty of care if they drive with bald tires, fail to maintain seatbelts and other safety systems including brakes and collision avoidance systems, or otherwise fail to fix known defects that can negatively affect safety performance such as transmission or steering systems.
Limousine drivers are required to provide reasonable care to their passengers. This means they must operate the vehicle in a safe manner that is in accordance with the law. Drivers must obey posted signage including speed limits, travel at speeds that are safe for conditions, and avoid engaging in driving behaviors that may place their passengers at risk of injury or wrongful death in a limousine accident.
Many limousines are merely extended passenger vehicles manufactured by Lincoln, Cadillac, Ford, Hummer, etc. This means that operating controls are not difficult for most drivers to master. However, the extension of the vehicle has a significant impact on performance and the way the vehicle handles. Extending a limousine changes the vehicle's turning radius, center of gravity, and overall performance. This means that limousine companies have a duty of care that includes training their drivers on how to handle the vehicle in order to safely transport passengers. Companies that fail to train drivers and inform them of known safety issues can be held liable for negligent training practices that place passengers in harm's way.
Kansas is a comparative negligence state. This means the limousine driver, limousine company, and other parties involved in the accident can share a portion of the liability for a limousine accident. For instance, the court may rule that a driver was 30% liable because they were driving beyond the vehicle's safe operational speed, but the employer was 70% liable for failing to train the driver about the vehicle's operational limits. Many companies fail to train using the Smith System and similar defensive driving protocols. When companies fail to set up Fleet Safety programs and operate a fleet of only a few vehicles they can be additionally liable for failing to implement these safety systems and training systems.
Brad Pistotnik Law represents clients who are injured in a limousine accident in Overland Park, Kansas City, Lawrence, Wichita, Garden City, Liberal, Dodge City, Guymon, Kearney, Lincoln,and cities throughout Kansas, Illinois, Nebraska, Missouri and Oklahoma. Passengers riding in limousines have a right to be transported safely to and from their destination. Our firm helps clients pursue compensation when the negligent actions of a limousine driver, limousine service, mechanic, or other motorist turns a smooth ride into a bumpy trip down I-70, I-35, city streets, or country lanes.
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