Fatal Limo Fire Questions Safety Record of Limousine Industry
I have often seen limos taking people to parties on the Oceanfront at Virginia Beach or in downtown Norfolk. In the past safety issues have not been associated with the limo industry in the same way as they have dogged the tour bus industry.
All that is changing. Recently I reported on a terrible limousine fire that claimed the lives of five women in San Francisco.
This fire in a limousine in California turned a bachelorette party into a scene of horror and claimed the lives of five passengers inside, including the bride to be.
In the wake of this accident many questions are being asked about the limousine industry and its levels of regulation.
WRAL.com reported all of the women who were killed were found pressed up against the partition behind the driver, “apparently because smoke and fire kept them from the rear exits of the extended passenger compartment.”
The driver and four women were able to escape from this crash.
WRAL.com reported the driver, Orville Brown, 46, of San Jose, said at first he misunderstood what one of the passengers in the back was saying when she complained about smoke.
This deadly accident raises questions about the whether the limo owners were following the rules. California Highway Patrol Commander Mike Maskarich said the state Public Utilities Commission had only authorized the vehicle to carry eight or fewer passengers, but it had nine inside on the night of the deadly fire.
It will take a few weeks for investigators to piece together “some semblance of answers for the tragic events that just occurred,” Maskarich said.
A spokesman for the California Public Utilities Commission, which regulates limos, said Monday that the limo owner, Limo Stop, is licensed and had shown evidence of liability insurance. The company had not been the target of any previous enforcement action.
However, Joan Claybrook, the leading federal auto-safety regulator under President Jimmy Carter, told the channel, the stretch limousine industry is “poorly regulated because the main agency that oversees car safety doesn’t have enough money to prioritize investigating the small businesses that modify limos after they leave the assembly line.”
“I think the oversight is pretty lousy, because the modifications are so individualistic, and there are not that many companies out there that do this. Mostly, they are mom-and-pop operations,” said Claybrook, who is a former administrator at the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
If a fault of the driver or a defect cause the fire in San Francisco, the owners of the limousine could be liable in a wrongful death lawsuit.
If you have been injured in an auto accident, you should contact an experienced Virginia Beach auto accident attorney for a free consultation.
The Norfolk, VA based personal injury law firm, Cooper Hurley with client meeting locations in Virginia Beach and Hampton, handles automobile, truck, and motorcycle injuries as well as wrongful death, railroad injury cases and medical malpractice. John Cooper and Jim Hurley have over 40 years of combined experience in handling auto injury accident claims. Attorney John Cooper has been named to Virginia “Super Lawyers” since 2010. Cooper Hurley represents people hurt in accidents in Norfolk, Virginia Beach, Portsmouth, Suffolk, Chesapeake, Hampton, Newport News and throughout VA. If you need help or advice about a serious injury, please call us at (757) 455 -0077 or see CooperHurley.com