The tragic New York limousine accident that resulted in 20 fatalities has brought much-needed attention to industry safety. Seventeen passengers, the driver, and two bystanders died as a result of the accident, which remains under investigation. New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo told reporters that the limo had failed a recent inspection and thus should not been on the road.
The limo accident was the deadliest such accident in the United States in nine years. Stretch limousines are a fun way to celebrate special occasions with friends; however, as this accident demonstrates, such celebrations can turn deadly. If you’ve been seriously injured while riding in a limousine, or if you’ve had a loved one killed due to a limousine company’s negligence, contact Meldon Law today to speak with one of our experienced personal injury attorneys.
The Dangers of Stretch Limousines
A stretch limousine is a regular car or SUV that is cut in half, with the body extended on the top, bottom, and sides. In order to accommodate this larger design, builders sometimes remove the side rollover pillars and airbags. Federal safety standards apply before a vehicle is sold to a consumer, and these modifications occur after the vehicle leaves the factory. Furthermore, stretch limousines generally do not have to meet the same state and federal regulations set for standard limousines, making regulation of these oversized vehicles a gray area that can vary widely from state to state.
- Dangerous drivers. Modified vehicles are more difficult for drivers to control than standard vehicles. Brakes and tires are generally designed for standard vehicles, and struggle to accommodate extra capacity added during the modification process. Under Florida law, a commercial driver must have a special driver license endorsement to operate any vehicle—public or private—that is designed to transport more than 15 passengers (including the driver). Failure to have the proper experience and required license endorsement place all passengers at risk of serious injury or death.
- Lack of seat belt regulations/requirements. One important aspect of the party experience for limousine passengers is the vehicle’s banquet-style seating, which positions passengers inward facing each other. Federal law does not require large limousines to have seat belts for passengers who don’t sit facing forward. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), passengers not wearing seatbelts are thirty times more likely to be ejected from a vehicle. More than three out of every four accident victims experience an ejection die from their injuries.
Call Meldon Law Today
Oftentime, people choose to enlist the services of stretch limousines as a precaution to avoid drinking and driving. Young people also enjoy the prestige of arriving at their proms and other social functions in such an infamous vehicle. While stretch limousines provide for a unique mode of transportation, dangerous modifications and drivers without proper license endorsements make for a deadly combination.
When a fun time turns tragic due to a vehicle that failed inspection or driver error, hold the negligent parties responsible. Meldon Law has significant experience in Florida personal injury and wrongful death cases. If you sustained a serious injury or lost a loved one in a limousine accident, call Meldon Law today at (954) 334-1276, or contact us online today to schedule a free case evaluation.