California 15-Passenger Van Accident Lawyers
In 2001, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration released a report warning of the safety risks associated with 15-passenger vans. Since that time NHTSA has repeatedly warned the public of the hazards associated with these vehicles and instituted numerous regulations. Despite these concerns, 15-passenger vans continue to be manufactured and continue to cause serious injuries and fatalities.
National Leaders in 15-Passenger Van Accident Litigation
The attorneys of Greene Broillet & Wheeler, LLP, have been at the forefront of litigation over 15-passenger vans and the accidents they cause. We have successfully represented dozens of clients in 15-passenger van accident cases.
Fifteen-passenger vans are dangerous for many reasons, including:
- Unstable at any speed: The extended wheelbase and extended rear end make these vans hard to handle and easy to rollover under any conditions. Even a lane change at 35 miles per hour can cause the driver to lose control and roll over.
- More passengers, more risk: Vans carrying 10 or more passengers have three times the rollover risk of vans with fewer than 10 people on board. Loading cargo on top of the van also increases the rollover risk.
- Defective tires: Many 15-passenger van accidents are caused by tire failures.
The Hanson family was devastated in a Ford E-350 15-passenger van crash in August 2006. A defective Firestone Steeltex tire on the left rear separated leading to a rollover on Highway 40. Kelly Hanson, who was seat belted in the right front passenger seat, suffered fatal head injures. Daughter Jessica was ejected and killed. Wife Belinda and daughter Jacqueline received serious orthopedic injuries. Two other family friends, including Jessica's boyfriend Adam Bacon, died. As a result of work by attorneys in the firm, Ford and Firestone reached a confidential settlement with the families.
- Experienced drivers only: A commercial (class B) driver's license is required in many circumstances to drive these vehicles, but these regulations are frequently not enforced. Churches and schools are often unaware of these rules. Specialized driver training is recommended but not readily available.
- Car rental: 15-passenger vans are often rented to consumers without adequate warning of the increased danger of these vehicles and the specialized training for driving and loading the van.
- Restricted use: NHTSA has restricted the use of 15-passenger vans. They cannot be used as regular transportation for K-12 school children or those attending daycare centers. But the vans are frequently used for sports teams, college groups, airport shuttles, church groups and other organizations.
In May 2003, a church group from Hayward rented three Ford E-350 15-passenger vans from Enterprise for a trip to a religious retreat in Southern California. One of the vans, carrying 15 college students, rolled over, killing five and severely injuring several others. In representing the families of the church group, GB&W attorneys established that Enterprise had violated its own rules by renting the van to the church and allowing drivers who did not have proper qualifications to drive the vans. Confidential settlements were reached with Enterprise and Ford.
If you were injured in a 15-passenger van accident or if a member of your family died a wrongful death in a van, please contact an attorney at Greene Broillet & Wheeler, LLP. We represent clients in the Los Angeles area and throughout Southern California.