Every year, far too many Americans are seriously injured or killed in passenger van accidents. Recently, an especially deadly Florida accident occurred that left 8 people dead and 10 others injured. At the time of the accident, all 18 passengers (traveling in a 15-passenger van) were returning to their Haitian Assembly of God church in Fort Pierce after attending a “weekend Palm Sunday revival in Fort Myers.” According to the Florida Highway Patrol, this late-night accident happened shortly after the church van “ran through a stop sign, crossed all lanes of U. S. 27 and landed in a canal in rural southwest Florida.”

Although the patrol officers initially questioned how this accident could have occurred, one of the passengers has now said that the van driver (who was killed), “didn’t notice a curve in the road and couldn’t stop in time.” Those injured in this accident ranged in age from 4 to 89. Uniqueness of This Accident: Number of Deaths and An Overloaded 15-Passenger Van Perhaps the most unusual fact about this terrible tragedy is that it’s been investigated by National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) agents. NTSB spokesman Peter Knudson said, “There are 12 million highway accidents annually and our teams investigate about a dozen.”

It appears that this accident’s high number of fatalities and the known dangers tied to 15-passenger vans clearly influenced the decision to visit this Florida crash scene. Back in May of 2006, the NTSB even issued a Safety Alert to fully inform the public of the special dangers of 15-Passenger Vans. Among other points, the government stated that there can be special tire inflation issues. At this Florida crash scene, someone spotted, “a long strip of [tire] tread rest[ing] in one of the ruts made by the van as it plunged into the canal.”

Overloading this Dodge van may have also increased the dangers. These vans have special “center of gravity” issues that can make it extra hard for a driver should emergency maneuvers become necessary. Accidents Like These Require an Experienced Trial Advocate and Investigator

  • Investigative skills are critical. Since you’ll rarely have a crash site that’s investigated by the NTSB, it’s critical to hire an experienced Georgia trial lawyer – someone who has represented many clients (and their survivors) in major vehicle accidents in the past.

  You’ll also need your attorney to investigate the negligent driver’s actions and activities at the time of the crash, the adequacy of all pertinent traffic signs and signals, and the general roadway design. In the Florida accident referenced above, one person has already questioned whether or not there should have been a “flashing red light, or at least a bright white light, at [or just before] the intersection;”

  • Strong courtroom and negotiating skills are a must. Accident victims also need a professional advocate to interact with the other driver’s insurance company. After all, these companies are in business to deny claims whenever they can – or else to pay out very limited sums of money. You’ll also need someone who knows how to properly present your case in court;
  • A thorough knowledge of the law is essential. You’ll need an Atlanta personal injury trial attorney who understands all pertinent legal fields, including the complex realm of product liability law that involves checking to see if all vehicles were functioning properly at the time an accident. Likewise, your lawyer must be ready to help you if the other driver was uninsured. Although we all have to carry some type of uninsured motorist coverage, the minimum levels required by law may not be fully adequate to cover the extent of your injuries. Your attorney will need to prepare strong arguments in favor of your receiving the maximum available under all statutes.

Conclusions If anyone in your family has been seriously injured or even killed in a deadly car, van, or motorcycle accident, you’ll need someone whose has all of the skills listed above. The Bell Law Firm invites you to view our Verdicts and Settlements web page that clearly indicates our successful representation of many past clients.