To many observers, the 15-seat passenger van seems like an unassuming and safe vehicle. We associate them with shuttle services for college kids and field trips for senior citizens. However, the statistics show that 15-seat passenger vans are actually one of the most dangerous vehicles on the road when it comes to the amount of passengers injured in a typical accident. If you or a loved one has been injured in a passenger van accident you will need top notch representation to ensure that your legal rights are protected and you receive fair compensation for your injuries. At Kraemer, Manes and Associates we have a team of experienced attorneys ready to zealously advocate for your case and get you the compensation you deserve.
Injury statistics for 15-seat passenger vans
The 15-seat passenger van is widely used for church events, youth sports and field trips. When the weather warms up many of these vans hit the roads and their popularity has been increasing in the past decade. Occupants and drivers of these vans should be aware that according to a study from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration the more people that these vans carry, the higher the risk of rollover. The study showed that a van with five or more people has three times the rate of rollover than a van carrying less than five. For the 2007 year the deaths resulting from passenger van crashes increased 20 percent from 2006 and in vans that actually rolled over, the fatality rate increased by 73 percent. The risk of death and serious injury is very real if you are an occupant in a passenger van that is involved in an accident.
Known problems with 15-seat passenger vans
The rollover risk for 15-seat passenger vans is dangerously high. Most people associate rollovers with SUV’s and trucks, but the passenger van actually has a greater risk of rollover than those other vehicles when they are filled with occupants and travelling at speeds greater than 50 mph. In fact, studies have shown that for each passenger over 5 that the van carries the risk of rollover gets higher and higher. The combination of a high center of gravity, large amount of passengers and a high ground clearance makes these vehicles highly susceptible to rollover accidents.
Other known problems
Not only do passenger vans present a high rollover risk, but they are not required to be equipped with the same level of crush resistant roofs as many other cars and trucks. On many passenger vans the seats are not securely bolted to the floor of the vehicle, they have insufficient padding inside, they lack air bags and they are designed with windows that are not shatter proof and cannot prevent occupants from being ejected in an accident. Moreover, passenger vans can be difficult to handle in emergency situations because they show a susceptibility to oversteering, especially when they are carrying a heavy load of passengers.
Due to the great risk involved with these vehicles, and the fact that any accident with a passenger van is likely to involve multiple people, the federal government has passed several regulations to make the vehicles safer for use. These regulations have made passenger vans somewhat safer, but they do not go far enough.
Due to the risks that 15-seat passenger vans pose, the federal government currently prohibits these vans from being sold to organizations that would use them to transport high school students. The federal government also requires tire pressure monitoring, door lock enhancements and, as of 2012, electronic stability control in the steering systems of the vans. These regulations improve the safety of the vehicles to a certain degree, but they still do not require crush proof roof strength, shatterproof windows and other safety features that many noncommercial vehicles have.
Additionally, thousands of the 15-seat passenger vans that are currently in use predate these standards and therefore lack the new required safety measures. Making matters worse, companies will often try to skirt these safety measures or take advantage of loopholes in order to save money in the manufacturing, distribution and sales of these vehicles. Newer laws, with stricter safety measures and more bite need to be put in place in order make these vans as safe as possible. Until that happens, these vans still present a great injury risk for their passengers.
Common injuries from 15-seat passenger van accidents
Injuries resulting from 15-seat passenger van accidents can be especially severe because of the structure of the vehicle itself. With unbolted seats and plenty of space inside the vehicle a passenger may be subject to being thrown around the vehicle with great force. Additionally, a passenger may be ejected from the vehicle due to the lack of shatterproof glass. Some of the types of injuries that result from 15-seat passenger van accidents include multiple fractures, traumatic brain injuries, amputations, paraplegia, and many other injuries that can be debilitating and require long term care.
How we assign liability
If you or a loved one was injured in a passenger van accident you may want to know how we will be able to get a recovery for you. In passenger van accidents there may be several parties at fault and we will work through the legal process to ensure that each one of them is held accountable. The operator of the vehicle may be at fault if she did not follow proper driving guidelines or was not in line with regulations required to operate the vehicle. Another driver on the road may bear some or all of the responsibility if their reckless driving caused the accident. Also, the designers and manufacturers of the vehicle may be at fault for you injuries. We can hold the producers of the vans responsible if they designed and sold a defective vehicle. For example, if they designed and sold the vehicle without the required electronic stability control and then the lack of steering control contributed to the accident, the designers may be responsible. Remember, if you are a passenger in a van, the driver, other drivers on the road, and the manufacturers of the vehicle itself all have a duty to ensure that they did all that they could to keep you safe. Here at Kraemer, Manes and Associates we will ensure that all of the parties who contributed to causing your injuries are held liable for what they did.
Safety advice for using 15 seat passenger vans
Although 15 seat passenger vans can be risky vehicles, you may find yourself in a situation where you need to continue using them. If this is your situation there are certain safety guidelines recommended by the National Safety Transportation Board that can help to lower the risk of accident and injury in these vans:
- Screen all drivers of these vans. One way to do this is to require all drivers to have a commercial driver’s license.
- Limit the capacity of the vans to 9. The more people in the van, the greater the risk of rollover.
- Do not use the van for towing. Adding additional weight and weight distribution can increase the risk of accident.
- Communicate to all of your passengers the risks associated with 15 seat passenger vans.
- Conduct regular and timely inspections. Pay special attention the air pressure of the tires.
- Remove all rear seats that are not being used. The rear loading of these vehicles contributes to the risk of accident.
- Do not use the back cargo area.
- Include first aid kits that are fully stocked with bandages and emergency medical equipment.
- Require that all passengers use seat belts and all safety restraints.
What to do if you are involved in an accident
There some steps that you can take immediately after the accident that can help you with your legal case down the road. First, seek medical attention immediately. You need to attend to any injuries that you have suffered, but this will also lay the groundwork for documentation and proof of your injuries that may be necessary in your legal case. Second, contact the police and all other necessary emergency services. When the police arrive, give them a good description of the events so that they can document an accurate police report. Third, if you have an opportunity, take photographs of the accident scene. You can do this on your cell phone if that is all you have available. Any visual evidence of the accident will help support your case. Taking these steps can go a long way towards helping you get a fair recovery in your personal injury case.
Why Kraemer, Manes and Associates is right for you
If you or a loved one has been injured in a 15-seat passenger van accident, KM&A is the right choice for you. We bring to the table the experience, knowledge and dedication necessary to get you the recovery that you deserve. When you choose our firm for representation you will find that you do not get just one attorney to handle your case, you get an entire team of attorneys and legal support staff. Each one of these team members is ready to tackle any challenge that arises along the way. Contact KM&A today, either through our website, email, or telephone numbers to receive a free consultation.