Recently, a fire on a limousine in California ended in tragedy and the death of five co-workers who were not able to escape from the vehicle. Witnesses reported seeing a blast of fire from the rear of the vehicle and the vehicle quickly became engulfed in flames. Authorities continue to investigate the cause of the fire and that investigation is likely to take weeks.

In a motor vehicle fire such as the one in California, there are many potential causes, including improper maintenance of the vehicle by the limousine company or a defect in the car’s design or manufacture. Improper maintenance could include the limousine company failing to inspect the vehicle and failing to make sure that, for example, the wiring in the vehicle was properly working and in good condition. There are many potential defects in the vehicle itself that could cause a fire, such as a faulty fuel tank and/or fuel system. In addition, a small fire that should be contained and confined without serious injury to passengers can be allowed to spread throughout a vehicle if a manufacturer does not properly shield the passenger compartment.

In a tragic motor vehicle accident like this, any investigation will focus on the precise cause that led to the fire and also whether the deaths of the passengers could have been prevented. Initial reports indicate that the limousine may have been over its stated capacity, but authorities will have to determine whether that played any role in the fire.

With wedding and prom season about to start, it is important for limousine renters to know about their rights should they be involved in an accident while a passenger in a limousine. In addition to making inquiry into the company’s reputation and track record regarding safety, one would be wise to make sure that the limousine owner/operator has enough insurance to adequately cover any injuries that could be sustained in a car accident. The accident attorneys at SUGARMAN have a history of representing those injured in car accidents, including accidents involving commercial or rented vehicles. If you need to speak to experienced attorneys regarding a motor vehicle or personal injury case, please fill out a Contact Form, call us at (617) 542-1000 or e-mail