In upstate New York, an unthinkable tragedy occurred earlier this month that has led to much-needed scrutiny of the limousine service industry. As you may have heard or read by now, 20 people were killed when a limousine carrying 17 passengers barreled through a T-intersection and crashed into an unoccupied vehicle. All 18 occupants (including the driver) and two nearby pedestrians lost their lives, making this the deadliest transportation-related accident in nine years.
The limousine service had been hired to transport the passengers to a local brewery for a birthday celebration. Knowing that they would be enjoying some adult beverages, they did the responsible thing and opted to let a someone else do the driving, so they could enjoy the afternoon and evening and get home safely. Sadly, the limo service company failed horribly (and tragically) in their duty to keep their customers safe.
Who is Responsible for a Limousine Accident?
Some well-off Floridians travel by limousine out of convenience. Many others rent limos and typically pay several hundred dollars for a few hours of enjoyment to celebrate special occasions such as weddings, proms, birthdays, and other types of parties. With Halloween coming up later this month and the holidays quickly approaching, limousine rentals will soon be in high demand in the Sunshine State.
When people rent a limousine, they seldom pay much thought to the idea that they could be in an accident. It is assumed that this is a safe mode of travel, and that even if there was a crash, the size of the vehicle would most likely keep those inside protected. As the recent tragedy in New York shows, this is not necessarily the case. Although most limousine rides go smoothly and without incident, accidents do happen, and some of them can be severe and catastrophic.
Determining responsibility for an accident with a limousine can be difficult. There are several parties potentially at-fault, and these accidents often occur due to multiple factors converging together at just the wrong time and in just the wrong place. Some of the parties that may be at fault for a limousine accident in Florida include:
- The driver of the limousine;
- The limousine service company;
- The vehicle (or vehicle part) designer or manufacturer;
- The driver of another vehicle that was involved in the crash.
These cases can become quite complicated, as the case in upstate New York shows. The accident is still under investigation by state police and the National Transportation Safety Board, so we are still awaiting final conclusions. According to initial reports, the vehicle previously failed an inspection and should never have been on the road to begin with. In addition, the driver did not have the proper commercial license endorsement to be operating a limo. The company and the vehicle have been under scrutiny in the past, and the owner’s son was arrested and taken into custody following the accident. In cases like these, a thorough investigation is needed to determine who is responsible and which parties the victims (or in this case the victims’ families) should take legal action against.
Steps to Take after a Limousine Accident
If you are a passenger in a limo accident, there are some steps you should take right away to protect yourself and others who were involved:
- Call 911: A limousine crash can result in severe injuries, some of which are not easy to detect right away. The first thing you should do is make sure everyone is okay – including yourself. Call 911 for medical help so you can get an ambulance to the scene as soon as possible.
- Retain Extensive Documentation: Assuming you are physically able, write down in as much detail as possible what happened during the crash. Memories fade over time, so the sooner you get things down on paper, the better. Along these same lines, take several pictures of the accident scene from multiple angles, and speak with any witnesses and write down what they say happened.
- Speak to an Experienced Attorney: As mentioned earlier, limousine accident cases can get complicated. And deciding which party to pursue for damages is not always easy. A seasoned personal injury lawyer will be able to thoroughly assess the case and explore every potential legal avenue toward obtaining full compensation.
At Whibbs Stone & Barnett, we have over six decades of combined experience representing victims of all types of motor vehicle accidents in Pensacola and throughout the Florida Panhandle. We understand the complexities involved with these kinds of cases, and we have a successful track record going up against even the most well-funded adversaries. For a free consultation with one of our attorneys, call us today at 1-888-219-4561, or you may send a secure and confidential message through our online contact form.