On a recent Saturday afternoon in upstate New York, 17 close friends and family were piled into a limousine in route to a local brewery for a birthday celebration. They knew that alcohol would be involved, so they did the responsible thing and hired a limo to drive them, so they could all enjoy the celebration and get home safely. Tragically, the limousine service failed miserably in holding up their duty to keep the passengers safe.
As you may have heard or read by now, 20 were killed in this accident (including the 17 passengers, the limo driver, and two nearby pedestrians) when the limo barreled through a T-intersection that was known to be dangerous and crash into an unoccupied vehicle. The death toll of 20 made this the deadliest transportation accident since 2009, and left members of the local community where the victims were from looking for answers.
The crash is still under investigation, but the governor of New York said that the limousine had recently failed a vehicle inspection and should not have been on the road in the first place. The governor went on to say that the limo was a “chopped vehicle” that had been modified in a way that was not compliant with state law. It was also reported that the driver of the vehicle did not have the proper commercial license endorsement to operate a limousine. The exact cause of the crash has yet to be determined.
Who is Responsible when a Limousine Gets into an Accident?
Many southern Californians hire limos for special occasions. A few hours in a limousine is a stylish and luxurious way to celebrate a prom, birthday, wedding, or similar event without having to worry about who is going to drive you home. Most people who ride in a limo assume that this is a safe way to travel, and usually it is. However, as the recent tragedy in New York shows, limousine accidents do happen.
When there is an accident with a limousine, there are multiple parties that could potentially be responsible. These include:
- The limo driver;
- The limousine service company;
- The vehicle or vehicle part designer, manufacturer, supplier, or distributor;
- Another driver who may have been involved in the crash.
The driver of the limousine could be at fault if he/she was speeding, driving recklessly, driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs, driving while drowsy, or driving while distracted (e.g., texting while driving). The limousine service company could be responsible if they failed to properly maintain the vehicle, overloaded the limo with too many passengers, pressured the driver to work too many hours without enough rest, hired unqualified and/or unlicensed drivers, or lacked the proper permits, licensing, and insurance to operate a limo service.
The vehicle (or vehicle part) designer, manufacturer, or another party in the vehicle supply chain could be responsible if a defective or faulty part led to the accident. And another driver could be at fault if their actions while driving resulted in the crash. In many cases, a combination of factors could have contributed to the crash, and there may be multiple responsible parties.
In the case of the crash in upstate New York earlier this month, investigators have not yet determined whether the direct cause of the accident was the driver or a vehicle malfunction. In addition, the son of the limo company’s owner was arrested and taken into custody, so it also appears that the limousine company shares at least some responsibility for the incident. As this case shows, it can often be difficult to determine which party to pursue for damages after an accident with a limousine.
The Importance of Skilled Legal Counsel
If you or someone close to you was injured or killed as a passenger in a limousine accident in southern California, you have the right to compensation. In these types of cases, however, responsible parties often try to shift the blame to avoid paying out damages. For this reason, it is very important to work with a personal injury lawyer who understands the complexities of limo accident cases and what it takes to be successful in a legal action.
At Garmo and Garmo, our seasoned personal injury lawyers have successfully represented victims of all types of car accidents in San Diego, El Cajon, and surrounding California communities. We can thoroughly analyze your case and explore all potential legal avenues, so you are in the best possible position to obtain full compensation.
For a consultation with one of our attorneys, contact our office today at 619-441-2500 or send a secure and confidential message through our online contact form.