Experts say 15-seater vans may be unsafe

Individuals in Louisiana may be unaware that the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration has been issuing warnings about the dangers of 15-seater passenger vans for years. On March 30, another fatal accident occurred in one of these vehicles in Florida. The van was overloaded with 18 passengers when the driver missed a stop sign, and the van ran off the road and into a ravine. The driver and seven passengers died.

In many accidents that occur with this type of van, the tires blow or the van turns over. While neither of these happened in this particular accident, experts say that the vans are difficult to control and have safety issues. Many of these safety issues have to do with the inherent design of the vehicles. Some do not have stability controls or tire pressure monitoring, and their height and weight are an issue. The seats do not always have enough seat belts, and the seats themselves lack structural integrity.

Because the vans are inexpensive, they are often used by nonprofits such as churches and schools. However, one expert points out that the vans have such a reputation for being unsafe that some insurance companies will not insure them.

Individuals who are injured in an accident like this one could face a long recovery period. They may wish to file a lawsuit against the responsible party or parties. In a case like this one, it might be the driver and even the organization that owned the van. If it can be demonstrated that it was a defective vehicle, the manufacturer may be at fault. An attorney may be able to advise individuals as to whether a lawsuit may be an appropriate and potentially successful response.

Source: The New York Times, “Crash of church van kills 8 in rural Florida,” The Associated Press, March 30, 2015

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