A birthday is always a reason for a celebration, and many in New York choose to hire a limousine to transport them to their party destinations. They may do so assuming their trip will go without a hitch, and in general should not have to worry about their safety while in the vehicle. Unfortunately, as one recent incident shows, even limos can be involved in a deadly crash.

In a recent, tragic accident, a modified limousine carrying 17 people on their way to a brewery for a birthday celebration ran a stop sign and collided with a parked vehicle. Twenty people were killed in the incident, including all 17 occupants of the limo, the driver of the modified vehicle and two pedestrians. At least one victim sent a text message before the crash questioning the safety of the limo.

Now, according to New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, the limo, which had been modified, was not road-worthy, and the limo driver lacked the necessary license to operate the limo. Investigations are ongoing to determine if the crash was caused by driver error or a vehicular malfunction. However, the modified limo did not pass a New York State Department of Transportation Inspection in September, and thus should not have been driven. Moreover, the operator of the limo was supposed to have a commercial driver license with a passenger endorsement, which he did not.

This incident serves as a sobering reminder that when people hire commercial vehicles, such as limos or party buses, they expect that doing so is the responsible thing to do, especially if they are a large group and may be drinking. What they don’t expect is that the vehicle itself may be defective or that the driver of the vehicle may act negligently while behind the wheel. However, it is of the utmost importance that limos, buses and other passenger vehicles are properly maintained and driven with due care. Motor vehicle accidents such as this one should never occur. When they do, it is important to hold the appropriate parties legally accountable for their negligence.