Chattanooga Passenger Van Accident Attorney

Most often, buses are used to transport large groups for tours or day and weekend trips, but sometimes the number of passengers is too few to justify using a bus. On these occasions, organizations tend to opt for passenger vans.

Passenger vans are large vans containing 5 rows of seats to accommodate up to 15 people, including the driver, and are federally classified as buses in terms of safety standards. They are regularly used by churches, colleges, airports, resorts and hotels, tour and travel agencies, daycare and eldercare centers, and other organizations. Though they are frequently used, they are very hazardous vehicles when used for carrying people. Therefore if you have suffered injuries from another driver while in a van, seek the assistance of a Chattanooga passenger van lawyer to hold the negligent party responsible. An experienced bus accident attorney can assist in guiding you through the claims process and ensuring that you know what to expect at each step.

Dangers of Passenger Vans

Passenger vans are very different from other small passenger vehicles. Originally manufactured to transport cargo, they were never fully redesigned to safely transport people. Instead of carrying most of their weight near the floor like cargo vans, passenger vans carry most of their weight above the seats, changing the center of gravity and the handling characteristics of the passenger van. However, most vans have not been changed to account for this different use. This makes passenger vans much easier to rollover or go out of control. They are longer, higher, and wider than smaller passenger vehicles and require heavier reliance on side mirrors for changing lanes, more space, longer braking distances, and, overall, are at a higher risk of crashes, especially rollovers. Despite these significant risks, auto manufacturers continue to create and sell 15-passenger vans that are poorly designed.

Passenger Van Rollover Causes

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 15-passenger vans are at greater risk for rollover crashes due to three factors:

  1. Inexperienced drivers,
  2. Improperly sized and/or inflated tires, and
  3. Incorrectly loaded cargo and/or passengers that affect the center of gravity.

Driving a 15-passenger van is different from driving a smaller passenger vehicle, even if it is a minivan or pickup truck, and so it is imperative that the driver is trained and experienced. An inexperienced driver may have difficulty changing lanes, turning corners, backing up, and/or performing other common maneuvers. Additionally, the center of gravity is raised once passengers are added, making the van less stable and more difficult to handle. Ultimately, inexperienced or improper driving will increase the chances of a fatal passenger van rollover crash in Tennessee therefore also increasing the need for a Chattanooga passenger van attorney.

Ensuring that the passenger van has the right sized and properly inflated tires is important. Under or over-inflated tires can affect its stability and thus increase the risk of a crash. Fortunately, the latest models of passenger vehicles, including 15-passenger vans, use automatic tire pressure monitoring systems. Even so, the tires, as well as the rest of the van should be inspected before every trip.

Improperly loading cargo and/or passengers greatly increases the risk of a 15-passenger van rollover accident in Tennessee. The vehicle weight should never exceed the Gross Vehicle Weight Rating. In addition, a driver should never pack cargo or luggage too high and should never carry more passengers than the van can legally hold. Even without overloading, 15-passenger vans are three times more likely to roll over when occupied by 10 or more passengers.

Passenger Van Crashes in Tennessee

According to the Tennessee Department of Safety, between 2003 and 2007, there were 4,000 15-passenger van crashes across the state. Of these:

  • 1,030 caused injury
  • 37 caused fatalities
  • 2,933 caused property damage
  • 35 were caused by a vehicle defect
  • 1,618 were caused by driver negligence, recklessness, or error

The injury attorneys at Massey & Associates, PC, have handled many Tennessee passenger van cases winning large recoveries for injured victims and their families.

Filing a Claim With a Chattanooga Passenger Van Lawyer

Passenger vans are not governed by the same regulations as other commercial vehicles. Some states, like Tennessee, have imposed some restrictions on their use, but licensing and training drivers still remains a concern. However, just because the regulations are not established does not mean you have no recourse against a negligent driver or auto manufacturer.
If you or a loved has been injured in a Tennessee 15 passenger van accident, the experienced Chattanooga passenger van attorney at Massey & Associates, PC can help you understand your legal rights and options. Please contact us today so that we may answer all of your questions.

Chattanooga Bus Accident Lawyer