Modifications to “stretch” limousines are under scrutiny by federal officials, after questions were raised regarding the safety of these vehicles.
The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has agreed to look into whether modified vehicles are safe for the road, after high-profile crashes caught the attention of a lawmaker and others.
Investigation follows deadly accident
The announcement comes in the wake of a deadly limo accident in Long Island wine country that took the lives of four young women. The accident occurred when a pickup truck smashed into the limo as it was making a U-turn, nearly cutting the limo in half. Four of the eight women in the limo were killed, while the other four were seriously injured. Both drivers involved in the accident were also taken to area hospitals with injuries.
The NTSB investigation is a response to a letter sent by Sen. Chuck Schumer (Dem-NY) after the Long Island accident. The agency rarely conducts such investigations, but spokesman Eric Weiss said the office would be looking at limousine crashes on a “case-by-case” basis. The NTSB had also received a report about the limousine accident that seriously injured comedian Tracy Morgan in 2014.
Concerns regarding limo modification
Concerns about these vehicles involve the way in which they are altered to create the stretch limo look and feel. According to a report at ABC 7, some of the original frames of these vehicles are cut in half and side panels are added to make them longer. However, without safety standards to guide the modifications, there is no guarantee that the new side panels are reinforced sufficiently to withstand impact in the event of a crash.
Last year, an NTSB investigation into the crash involving Tracy Morgan found the vehicle had a sheet of plywood added to separate the cab from the passengers. Unfortunately, that piece of wood posed a danger to passengers in the vehicle, making it difficult for first responders on the scene to get the passengers out quickly. That investigation did prompt the NTSB to recommend multiple exits in limos to avoid those sort of risks in the future.
However, the NTSB also found that the failure of many passengers in that crash to wear seatbelts also contributed to their injuries. In addition, the driver of the truck that hit the limo had not slept in 28 hours prior to the crash and failed to slow down despite posted warnings.
Driving under the influence
In the Long Island crash, the driver of the pickup truck pleaded not guilty to charges that he was driving intoxicated at the time of the accident. The driver of the limo was also tested for substance use and while alcohol was found in his system, it was below the legal limit of intoxication. Now, one of the surviving passengers has filed a car accident lawsuit against both drivers in the collision, seeking an unspecified amount in damages.
Victims of DUI or limo crashes can face a lifetime of injuries. In the case of a fatal accident, survivors are left without the company and companionship of their loved one.
The lawyers at Edelman, Krasin & Jaye have seen firsthand just how life-changing these events can be and how challenging it is to pick up the pieces and move on after a tragic occurrence. We help victims pursue damages for medical bills, lost wages and other non-economic losses. For a free evaluation of your case and to discuss your options with veteran Long Island personal injury attorneys, contact Edelman, Krasin & Jaye at 1-800-469-7429.