Earlier this month, 20 people were killed in upstate New York when a limousine barreled through a T-intersection and crashed into an unoccupied vehicle. The crash killed all 18 occupants of the limousine (including the driver) and two nearby pedestrians, making it the worst tragedy in the United States in nearly a decade. The crash is still under investigation, but according to New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, the limousine had failed an inspection last month and never should have been on the road in the first place. In addition, the driver did not have the required commercial license endorsement to be driving the vehicle.
The recent tragedy in New York has helped shine the spotlight on a high-end means of travel that is assumed by most people to be safe. Many choose to travel by limousine for special occasions such as proms, weddings, concerts, and parties. In the case of the upstate New York crash, the passengers were in route to a birthday celebration at a local brewery. Knowing that alcohol was going to be involved, they did what they thought was the responsible thing and hired a limo to drive them, so they could all make it home safe. Sadly, the limo service provider failed miserably to live up to their obligations.
Who is Responsible in a Limousine Accident?
With Halloween parties happening later this month and the holiday season rapidly approaching, many West Virginians are making plans for celebrations with family and close friends. But with what just happened in New York, many are wondering if renting a limousine for these occasions is such a good idea. Most limo excursions do end safely. That said, it is important to perform your due diligence and check out the limo service before you hire them. Make sure they have the proper licensing and have a good record with the Better Business Bureau and other consumer organizations.
Some people also wonder who is responsible if they should happen to get into an accident as a passenger in a limousine. As the recent case shows, there is not always a definitive answer to that question. According to NBC News, it is still not clear if the crash was the driver’s fault, or if it was caused by a vehicle malfunction. In a typical case, the accident could be the fault of the driver, the limousine company, the vehicle (or vehicle part) designer, manufacturer, supplier, or distributor, or a combination of factors.
The driver could be at-fault if he/she was:
- Speeding or driving recklessly;
- Driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs;
- Driving while drowsy;
- Driving while distracted (e.g., texting while driving).
The limousine company could be at fault if they:
- Did not have the proper licensing to operate a limo service;
- Deployed vehicles that are not properly maintained and are unsafe to be on the road;
- Pressured drivers to work unreasonably long hours;
- Overloaded the vehicle with too many passengers;
- Hired drivers that were unqualified or did not have the proper licensing.
The vehicle designer, manufacturer, or other parties in the supply chain could be at fault if a faulty or defective product proves to be responsible for the limousine accident. Finally, the driver of another vehicle could be at-fault if their negligence or reckless actions on the road were the cause of the accident.
What to Do if you are Involved in a Limousine Accident
If you are involved in a limousine crash, there are some steps that should be taken right away to ensure that you and other passengers are protected:
- Seek Medical Attention: The first priority is to make sure everyone who may have been injured (including yourself) is treated for their injuries. Call 911 right away to bring an ambulance to the scene. It is important to keep in mind that some injuries (such as whiplash and internal bleeding) are not always discovered right away. Even if you think you are okay, have a medical professional check you out just to be sure.
- Document what Happened: Gather as much information as you can at the accident scene while everything is fresh in your mind. Take detailed notes of the incident and how it occurred. Take multiple photographs of the scene from various angles. And obtain the contact information of those nearby that may have witnessed the crash.
- Obtain Strong Legal Representation: Limousine accident cases can be quite complicated. With multiple potential at-fault parties, it is not always clear which legal avenue is best to pursue. For this reason, it is very important to speak with a seasoned personal injury attorney who understands the complexities of these types of cases.
The experienced injury attorneys at Bailey, Javins, and Carter have over four decades of experience representing victims of all types of auto accidents in West Virginia. We have in-depth knowledge of this area of the law, and a successful track record obtaining full compensation for our clients and holding responsible parties fully accountable. Contact our office today to schedule a free consultation with one of our attorneys.