As prom and wedding seasons approach, many parents and teens will be eager to book limousine services, relying on fleets of drivers to safely chauffeur riders back and forth.
While it’s easy to assume these drivers and the limo companies that employ them are safe and professional, the reality is, like most industries, corners are cut in the limousine industry, too — and catastrophic accidents do, and have, happened.
Cavanagh Law Group has seen firsthand the repercussions of limo companies who lack the licensing and safety protocol necessary to keep riders safe by representing clients who have been subject to serious injury and even death as a result of sloppy limousine services.
Cavanagh Law Group is currently representing two passengers who were injured in a fatal limo crash that occurred on Interstate 90 on March 25, 2016 in a wrongful death lawsuit against the limousine company, its owner and the limo’s unqualified driver. According to the complaint, filed in Cook County Circuit Court on behalf of two of the six crash victims, the limousine was transporting a group of friends to O’Hare International Airport for a vacation when Aaron Nash, the 20-year-old-driver, said his vision become obscured by bright sunlight while driving through a construction zone.
Nash subsequently crashed on the Illinois tollway near Elgin, killing Wisconsin resident Teri L. Schmidt and injuring six others, including serious spinal injuries.
Investigators with the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration found that not only was Nash too young to drive with a commercial license over state lines, but his license was suspended due to unpaid fines. It was also discovered Nash had been convicted of five traffic offenses between 2012-2015.
As the case continues, the federal transportation authorities have since ordered the closure of Lyons Limousine, saying it had posed an “imminent hazard” to public safety.
"The limousine company knew they posed an imminent safety hazard to the public on the day they sent this 20-year-old driver who had no driver's license, had no (commercial driver's license) to transport these friends and family members," Cavanagh Law Group attorney Tim Cavanagh said at a news conference announcing the lawsuit. "If they did do any history of his driving records their conduct is even more reprehensible."
Had the limousine company vetted its drivers and their qualifications more thoroughly, this devastating accident likely would have been avoided.
Fortunately, there are ways to make informed choices in selecting limousine transportation, and ways to help hold responsible those companies who fail to meet business and safety standards.
It’s imperative we carry out due diligence when it comes to researching these companies: What is its safety record? Are drivers qualified? Is the proper licensing all in order? We can’t take safety for granted.
These questions must be answered in order to ensure those riding off to prom, graduation, or other events are in safe hands.
• Make sure your driver actually has the required license to drive a limo. Many do not.
• Make sure they know where they are going and have the directions. Surprisingly, many drivers end up going to the wrong places or get lost.
• As a parent, talk to the driver to make sure he or she knows your expectations for your child’s behavior in the limousine.
• Give the driver a phone number to call if there is a problem.
• Often drivers are coming from other bookings (weddings, parties, etc.). Check the vehicle for left over alcohol. This is often a problem.
• Check to see what kind of insurance the limo service has if there is an accident. Many don’t have adequate insurance.