The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is calling for new limo seatbelt requirements in the wake of a deadly limo crash in upstate New York.
Agency Proposes Tighter Safety Regulations
The NTSB’s safety recommendations were released on October 2, 2019, nearly a year after a notorious limo crash that left twenty people dead.
On October 6, 2018, a 2001 Ford Excursion SUV limousine was traveling transporting seventeen passengers through Schoharie, NY when it blew past a stop sign and veered into the parking lot of a popular general store. There the limo hit a parked, unoccupied 2015 Toyota Highlander and two pedestrians before landing in a ravine. The crash killed the limo driver, all seventeen of his passengers, and the two pedestrians. The incident represented the nation’s deadliest transportation accident in nine years, following a 2009 plane crash near Buffalo that left fifty dead.
The NTSB was unable to begin its investigation into the limo crash until January. Local law enforcement officials had prevented the board from conducting a full inspection of the wreck until then, arguing that criminal investigation took precedent.
Following its inspection, the NTSB recommended to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration that lap and shoulder seatbelts should be required on any new vehicles that are modified to be used as limos, as the Ford Excursion SUV had been. The agency also argued that seating systems in these vehicles must meet minimum performance standards so that they maintain their integrity during a car accident.
The NTSB wrote that the human toll in the Schoharie limo crash “might have been mitigated by a combination of adequate seat integrity, well-designed passenger lap/shoulder belts, and proper seat belt use.”
The NTSB also noted that none of the limo passengers appeared to have been wearing the seatbelts that were already available at the time of the accident, though the belts themselves were so poorly designed that they “would not have provided adequate protection.”
New Laws Demanded as Owner Awaits Trial Over Limo Crash
The limo company’s operator, Nauman Hussain, is currently awaiting trial for criminally negligent homicide. Prosecutors in New York allege that he allowed an improperly licensed driver to operate an “unserviceable” vehicle. The limo had failed a state inspection that examined such things as the chassis, the suspension, and the brakes just weeks prior to the limo crash.
Additionally, the parents of the passengers killed in this limo accident have joined the parents of four young women killed in a 2015 limo wreck on Long Island in calling upon state lawmakers to tighten limousine regulations. They are demanding a new state law that would require seatbelts and airbags for all limo passengers, stronger inspection rules, and better enforcement to ensure that limos and drivers have proper licenses and permits.
Your Limo Driver Has a Duty to Keep You From Harm
These regulations could make a difference for future passengers, even though they would come too late for the victims of these tragedies. But even in the absence of tougher seatbelt requirements, the owners and operators of limos, cabs, and other commercial means of transportation have a duty to keep their passengers from harm. If they breach that duty and inflict damages as a result of their negligence, the passengers have a right to be compensated for their damages, which may include physical and psychological injuries, medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and loss of enjoyment of everyday life.
But to make sure that they obtain fair compensation, injured passengers must convey the full extent of their losses and the culpability of the defendants – and commercial insurance companies make their living by minimizing both. To help level the playing field, contact the Chicago personal injury attorneys at GWC Injury Lawyers if you have been hurt as a passenger.
GWC is one of the premier Personal Injury and Workers’ Compensation law firms in Illinois. For over four decades, we have fought tirelessly to get our clients the justice they deserve. And with more than $2 billion recovered in verdicts and settlements, we think our results speak for themselves.