Throughout the past few decades, the 15-passenger van’s large seating capacity has made it a popular vehicle for transporting sports teams, church groups, students, wedding parties, and other groups traveling to and from professional and social events. Unfortunately, while 15-passenger vans may be a roomy and convenient travel option, these controversial vehicles have long been troubled by design flaws which make them susceptible to crashes, particularly rollover accidents.
If you, your spouse, or one of your family members was injured in a passenger van accident in the Salt Lake City area, injury lawyer Jay Sheen may be able to recover compensation for your lost wages, your medical bills, and other hardships you’ve endured because of the crash or collision. With more than 33 years of experience, Jay is proud to provide aggressive, nuanced, and knowledgeable legal representation to the people of Utah. It’s Jay’s belief that when you’ve been injured by the negligent acts of a driver or automobile manufacturer, you deserve closure, justice, and compensation.
To set up a free legal consultation, call Jay at (801) 618-3580 right away. Jay will keep your information private while helping you understanding your rights, responsibilities, and the possible next steps for you and your loved ones.
How Dangerous Design Defects Cause 15-Passenger Van Rollovers
It’s an unavoidable fact that certain vehicles will inevitably be safer than others. However, the risks inherent in the shape and design of the 15-passenger van are so prominent – and, sadly, have proven so deadly – that these vehicles have become somewhat notorious for their high accident rates. In fact, 15-passenger vans have even been banned for specified uses in certain parts of the world. Unfortunately, they remain in frequent use in Utah, jeopardizing the safety of countless people who may not be aware of the risks.
So what, exactly, is so dangerous about these outwardly unassuming vehicles? The answer lies in their blueprint. The 15-passenger van’s main design flaw relates to its center of gravity, which is higher than that of most other passenger vehicles. Ironically, the more passengers are loaded into the vehicle, the higher its center of gravity becomes, meaning 15-passenger vans are actually at their most dangerous when used for the very purpose they were designed for: transporting large groups of people.
This high center of gravity makes it dangerously easy for even skilled drivers to fishtail, lose control of the vehicle, and have a rollover accident in which the van turns onto its roof or side, scraping along the road surface at high speeds before finally coming to a stop. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), rollovers have a higher fatality rate than other types of crashes.
In addition to a high center of gravity, 15-passenger vans also feature another design peculiarity which increases the risk of a crash occurring: unusual tire pressure specifications, which frequently lead drivers to inflate the tires incorrectly. The NHTSA estimates that roughly 30% of 15-passenger vans have at least one “significantly” under-inflated tire, which contributes to the dangerous instability created by the high center of gravity.
Common Serious Injuries Suffered by Automotive Accident Victims
As the NHTSA has noted, rollover accidents have exceptionally high rates of death and injury compared to other types of vehicular accidents. Some common injuries resulting from rollovers include:
- Bone Fractures – Broken bones are some of the most common injuries resulting from automotive accidents. Van occupants frequently suffer from fractured wrists, broken ribs, broken noses, broken collarbones, broken legs, broken arms, fractured cheekbones, and fractured ankles.
- Road Rash – The NHTSA has noted that 15-passenger van accidents have a high rate of occupant ejections, even among passengers who are restrained by seatbelts: “The rate of ejection for unrestrained occupants is about 72% as compared to 18% for restrained occupants.” When an occupant is ejected onto asphalt or even grass, the friction can result in extensive skin abrasion colloquially known as “road rash.” In addition to being agonizingly painful, road rash can also necessitate expensive skin grafting surgery.
- Spinal Cord Injury (SCI) – The main function of the spinal cord is to transmit nerve impulses between the body and brain. When the spinal cord is injured and that ability is diminished, the victim can become paralyzed. Paralysis of the lower body is called paraplegia, while full-body paralysis is known as tetraplegia or, more commonly, quadriplegia.
- Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) – A rollover accident can crush or crumple a passenger van’s roof, driving it inward where it can strike, scrape, or cut a vehicle occupant’s head. Unsecured objects flying through the van can also cause blunt force trauma. Unfortunately, severe head injuries like TBI are often the result. Depending on the severity and location of the brain injury, TBI can cause a host of debilitating medical complications, including chronic pain, impaired cognitive function, loss of sensation, memory loss, muscle weakness, fatigue, difficulty balancing, reduced mobility, and incontinence.
Let Our Salt Lake City Auto Accident Lawyers Handle Your Case
If you suffered an injury as the driver or occupant of a passenger van in the Salt Lake City area, you may have a right to compensation for your losses. To learn more about the options that may be available to you in a free and confidential legal consultation, call accident attorney Jay Sheen at (801) 618-3580 today. Jay will give you a clear and honest assessment of your case, and you will not be charged any fees.