What Are Your Rights? How Will The Schoharie Limo Crash Affect New York Laws?

Announcer: The following segment is sponsored by Martin, Harding & Mazzotti.

Interviewer: Tragedy struck this past Saturday when a stretched Ford Excursion limousine crashed near Schoharie, killing all 17 of its passengers inside, the driver, and two pedestrians. The incident is one of the deadliest in recent transportation history and leaves us with countless unanswered questions. Now, here to help examine this issue is Managing Partner Paul Harding from the law firm of Martin, Harding & Mazzotti. Paul, welcome.

Paul: Thank you.

Interviewer: Thank you for being here. So, I mean, so many new developments with this story. Early reports seem to indicate that there were issues with both the driver and the stretch limousine, as well as the vehicle itself. What can you tell us about the driver and the vehicle?

Paul: Yeah. We know that the feeling around the community is like nothing I’ve seen since 9/11. There’s this somber feeling of everybody just looking for answers, and the answers keep getting a little bit worse. I mean, here, they determined early on, the driver may not have had the right CDL, right license. We’ve got a vehicle that should have been pulled out of service. Now, there’s been some discrepancy back and forth, but every time we hear something about this, people are just trying to figure out why.

Interviewer: Right. Now, what are the safety requirements for vehicles such as limousines? And how do you see this tragedy affecting the law?

Paul: Well, it’s coming to light right now that the requirements for limousines are a lot less than the everyday car we see on the road. There’s no airbags. The seat belts are there, difficult to find, and no requirement to wear one. And I think what we’re going to see, legislatively, is it’s going to change the way that limo companies operate in the State of New York from a safety perspective, as well as regulatory.

Interviewer: Now, obviously, still very early in the investigation, but many of the locals where this crash happened seem to believe that there was a problem on the road. Do you see any sort of legal recourse in this regard?

Paul: I think there will absolutely be a claim. They’re going to take a look, is that a dangerous intersection? You know, I took a look at it from kind of Google Earth, and it’s hard to get a feel for that. But just what people have been saying: vehicles can’t stop. They end up going through the road to that rest stop. And is there proper signage? Are they going too fast as they’re approaching that stop sign? That is absolutely going to be a claim.

Interviewer: All right, one last question. What can our viewers do to protect themselves?

Paul: Well, there are ways. You can go online. National Transportation will talk about different companies and how safe their vehicles are, but who does that, right? The reality of it is, there’s got to be a legislative push there. When you get that limousine, you’ve got to know there are other people watching every part of it and it’s safe. That, I think, is the answer. Let’s get down to Albany, and let’s get some legislation changed.

Interviewer: All right, Paul, thank you. Of course, just a terrible situation. We’re going to continue to bring you the very latest on the Schoharie limo crash on air and online. Be sure to head on over to cbs6albany.com. Like us on Facebook, and follow us on Twitter for the very latest updates.