Georgia residents may have read media accounts about the stretch limousine accident that claimed the lives of 20 people in New York on Oct. 6. Investigators soon discovered that the Ford Excursion limousine involved had failed several safety inspections and was in a poor state of repair when it crashed into a stationary SUV. This incident has raised questions about how well these vehicles are regulated and how safe they are to travel in.

Road safety advocates are especially concerned because New York has some of the nation’s strictest limousine regulations. Cadillac and Lincoln produce longer versions of their luxury sedans specifically for the limousine sector, but most of the SUVs used by limo companies have been modified by specialists that are not required to meet the same tough crash protection standards as auto manufacturers. The model that crashed in New York was discontinued by Ford more than 10 years ago and was not equipped with side-curtain airbags even when it was new.

Seat belt use is also a factor in most limousine accidents. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, only one of the 12 occupants killed in fatal limo accidents between 2012 and 2016 was properly restrained. The National Transportation Safety Board raised this issue after learning that the comedian Tracy Morgan and his companions were not buckled up when the limo van they were traveling in was struck by a tractor-trailer in 2014.

Personal injury attorneys generally file car accident lawsuits against reckless drivers or their insurance providers. However, they could pursue civil remedies against limousine builders or state agencies when their clients have suffered serious injuries because dangerous vehicles were allowed on the road.