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Chicago Limo Company Ordered to Halt Operations after Fatal Crash

Chicago Auto Accident AttorneysAuthorities from FMCSA (Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration) have ordered the Lyons Limousine company to cease all operations on interstate and intrastate roadways. This order comes on the heels of an April 2016 limousine-involved crash occurring on Interstate 90 (Jane Addams Memorial Tollway) in Elgin, that claimed the life of Terri Schmidt and left six others critically injured. The release of information from the FMCSA revealed that authorities believe that Lyons Limousine could be “an imminent hazard to public safety.”

The order that was released by the United States Department of Transportation revealed that “Lyons Limousines use of unqualified and under-age drivers with poor driving records, lack of inspections, repairs and maintenance records, and complete disregard of the hours-of-service regulations substantially increases the likelihood of death or serious harm to drivers, passengers and the motoring public if not discontinued immediately.”

The order to cease operations was served to the Wisconsin company owners Patrick and Mary Lyons after the completion of the investigation of the March 2016 accident involving Schmidt and her husband along with two other couples traveling from the state of Wisconsin to O’Hare International Airport. At the time of the fatal crash, the couples were headed to the airport for a vacation in Mexico. During the initial investigation, the young limousine driver claimed he was blinded by the bright sunlight when traveling to the tollway construction zone.

Numerous Violations

While the 20-year-old limousine driver Aaron Nash was of legal age in Wisconsin, federal law mandates that all commercial vehicle operators crossing state lines must be 21 years and older. Federal investigators are most startled at the revelation that at the time of the accident, the limo driver had been operating the vehicle on a suspended driver’s license by the state of Wisconsin for the previous six months, as a result of not paying a fine. Even with a suspended license, the driver had been dispatched at least two times before the crash that occurred in March 2016.

The Department of Transportation also found that the limousine company, owners and operators had violated numerous regulations including a failure to perform pre-employment background checks as required by law and failure to monitor the number of hours every driver was behind the wheel to avoid fatigue. The young limousine driver had been cited five times for routinely failing to keep vehicle maintenance records, failing to obey traffic signals and signs, and obstructing traffic in a property damage accident.

The U.S. DOT released information revealing that the limousine company had previous violations that included obstruction of traffic, speeding, failing to obey traffic signals or signs, failing to use seatbelts and following too closely. By law, all commercial carriers including limousine companies must carry $1.5 million worth of liability coverage in the case of an accident with damage, injuries or death. However, the Lyons Limousine Company had no liability insurance at all.

FMCSA spokesman Duane DeBruyne said that “The immediate aspect is the company is not allowed to operate. The shutdown order is based on the company’s lack of compliance with the Federal Motor Safety Act.” In addition to the company violating multiple federal safety regulations including their failure to maintain minimal liability insurance coverage, Lyons Limousine did not possess operating and safety authority registration to operate according to law. Records revealed that the limousine company employed two drivers including the business co-owner whose own personal driver’s license had been suspended for more than two years.

Filing a Lawsuit against Lyon’s Limousine

Two accident victims involved in the March 25 along Interstate 95 have filed a lawsuit in Cook County Circuit Court against Lyons Limousine in May 2016 alleging that the company, owners and driver of the limousine Aaron Nash created “an unreasonable risk” of harm. Robert Rosa and his partner Michael Johnson are seeking unspecified damages against all parties who are directly and indirectly involved in the accident. An additional third-party, the Wisconsin-based Zenith Limousine Company, is also named in the suit because a plaque with the company’s name was found in the damaged limousine after the accident.

The lawsuit, filed by attorneys working on behalf of the plaintiffs in the case claim that the young driver was also in the employ of the Zenith Limousine Company when the crash occurred. However, Zenith spokesman said that the limousine company does not have any liability in the accident and that their connection with Lyons Limousine involves nothing more than a marketing agreement arranged between both companies that had expired the previous year. A personal injury law firm working on behalf of the victims are also investigating the construction zone to determine if traffic patterns could potentially have played a role in causing the accident.

Even though the limousine company failed to secure liability insurance, skilled personal injury attorneys can still seek and obtain financial compensation for the victims and surviving family members. The commercial vehicle accident attorneys that Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers LLC are experts in commercial regulations, practices and contractual standards of insurance carriers. Our law firm seeks to hold every responsible party financially and legally accountable.

Our comprehensive understanding of Illinois tort law and negotiation and litigation skills have successfully resolved many limousine accident claims and lawsuits in Illinois. We encourage you to contact our law offices today at (888) 424-5757 to schedule a free consultation. The reimbursements are handled through contingency fee arrangements and are only necessary after the victims receive a favorable settlement or jury award.