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Jonathan Rosenfeld

March 2, 2023

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Passenger vans are used for many smaller outings by schools, churches, and youth organizations to transport small groups back and forth to their destination.

Most passenger vans are more cost-effective than either using several smaller passenger vehicles or investing in a larger commercial vehicle. However, they do have serious safety concerns [1].

The 15-passenger vans, in particular, have been under scrutiny and are considered by some to be one of the most dangerous vehicles on the road today.

An Illinois Passenger Van Injury Attorney Can Help

If you were injured in a Chicago passenger van accident, contact Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers LLC for a free case evaluation. Our attorneys have successfully resolved Illinois motor vehicle accidents involving passenger vans on behalf of injured passengers and other motorists.

It is essential for you, a family member, or a loved one to speak to an Illinois passenger van attorney who can determine the best way to proceed with a personal injury claim.

Our personal injury attorneys currently represent clients throughout the United States, Illinois, and the following localities: Cook County, DuPage County, Kane County, Lake County, Will County, Arlington Heights, Aurora, Berwyn, Chicago, Elgin, Joliet, Naperville, and Waukegan.

High Rollover Propensity Compared With Other Vehicles

Nearly all 15-passenger vans are heavy vehicles with a high center of gravity designed originally to transport goods, not people. This design, coupled with a poor understanding of their drivers on how to handle these larger vehicles and improper loading, can make them dangerous in a rollover situation.

Compared to passenger vehicles such as cars and smaller vans, they are more likely to roll over and cause injuries to those transported inside.

  • About 52% of 15-person passenger van fatality accidents are rollovers. Compare this to a 33% rollover rate in other passenger vehicles.
  • When the van is full, there is an even higher chance of rollover. 85% of single-vehicle rollovers involving a 15-passenger van have 10-15 passengers on board.
  • Most 15-passenger vans have a higher chance of rollover without any other vehicle involved. Approximately 81% of fatal rollover accidents, truck accidents, and bus accidents involved only one vehicle.

General Safety Concerns Regarding Van Accidents

There are other factors beyond the physical safety concerns of the 15-passenger vans that can contribute to accidents. Vans are typically used in-group settings, such as churches, schools, and nursing homes for transport.

Often, the vans are being driven and loaded by non-professional drivers unfamiliar with driving and maintaining these larger types of vehicles.

Unfamiliarity can lead to several safety issues that can compile on top of their already less-than-stellar safety rating:

  • Loading the van – The van’s weight should be distributed front to back. Uneven loads can contribute to balance and gravity issues
  • Handling a large van – Many van drivers are inexperienced at driving a large vehicle. Large, top-heavy vans handle much different than other smaller passenger vehicles
  • Maintenance – Tire pressure is vital for larger vehicles. Proper maintenance needs to be used to ensure both the rear and front tires are at the correct pressure to avoid an auto accident caused by a tire blowout.
  • No endorsement – No special license is needed to drive large passenger vehicles. Many times, untrained drivers never learned how to handle a larger vehicle before behind the wheel.

A Lack of Government Oversight

The FMCSA (Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration) regulates the oversight of commercial vehicle transport, including passenger vans, school bus operations, the CTA, and the trucking industry.

However, passenger vans used for transport without direct financial compensation are not required to follow safety standards [2] defined by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations.

Without oversight, passenger van companies, businesses, and churches could allow passengers to travel without a seatbelt or other safety features.

Unfortunately, a lack of oversight often results in serious passenger van crashes where accident victims suffer serious harm, including traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord damage, internal organ bleeding, and death.

Passenger Van Accident Injury FAQs

Below are some frequently asked questions related to personal injury and wrongful death cases involving passenger vans. We know that each case is unique and you likely have questions specific to your situation.

Consequently, we invite you to contact our law firm for a free consultation with an attorney who has experience with passenger van accidents in and around Chicago, Illinois.

Are 15-Passenger Vans Really Unsafe?

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the federal Safety Act prohibits specific organizations and schools from leasing or purchasing new 15-passenger vans. The regulations on these fifteen-passenger vans restrict the transportation of younger students in pre-primary, primary, and secondary schools.

These vans must not transport students to and from their school or any school-related event because they are deemed unsafe. Schools that violate the regulation might be subject to significant penalties under civil law.

Why do 15-Passenger Vans Roll Over?

The design of a 15-passenger van creates an unsafe center of gravity where the bottom portion of the vehicle’s ways much less than the top, that when overloaded, could because the van to tip over.

Additionally, any underinflated tire could cause a rollover due to the high risk of a blowout at high speed. If a tire explodes, the driver could quickly lose control of the van and ultimately roll it over.

Is a Van or an SUV Safer?

Statistically, SUVs (sport-utility vehicles) have better safety features compared to large passenger vans and minivans. SUVs have a lower center of gravity, a higher seated-driver height, and better visibility than a passenger van, creating a safer driving environment for the operator and passengers.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) crash test ratings show positive results for most sport-utility vehicles.

How Many People can Fit Into a Van?

While a 15-passenger van is designed to hold fifteen adults, there is a specific limit based on the amount of weight the vehicle is designed to carry. Some commercial companies using or renting passenger vans will install luggage racks on the back or top of the vehicle to hold more weight, creating a potentially dangerous problem.

The added weight raises the vehicle’s center of gravity, creating a dangerous scenario where the vehicle could easily tip over when traveling fast or taking a sharp turn.

Is it Hard to Drive a Passenger Van?

Drivers that are new to operating a large van might be overwhelmed at the height of the driver’s seat and restricted line of sight through the rearview mirror. Passenger vans have an extended wheelbase, cargo weight limits, and different control features than minivans or small school buses.

Operating a fully loaded van requires extra distance to come to a complete stop. Driving too fast when cornering a turn could cause the vehicle to tip over.

Do 15-Passenger Vans Have Seat Belts?

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), large vehicles, including passenger vans, could pose a significant risk to an inexperienced driver and other motorists and truck drivers sharing the road.

The National Safety Council recommends all passengers and the driver wear seat belts while moving. Seatbelts are essential to passenger safety, so those responsible for maintenance must replace any broken, missing, or damaged component on the seat belt.

Passenger van occupants who wear a seat belt are significantly less likely to die in a car accident than an unrestrained passenger.

Hiring a Chicago Passenger Van Accident Attorneys for Injured People

If you, or a loved one, have been injured when aboard a passenger van, you might need legal assistance fighting your claim- particularly when there is a commercial insurance carrier involved.

The Illinois van accident attorneys at Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers LLC understand the sensitive nature of some of these accidents and help get you the financial compensation you need and deserve.

Contact our law firm today at (888) 424-5757 (toll-free phone call) or through the contact form to schedule a free consultation for legal advice on filing a serious injury claim or wrongful death lawsuit. All discussions with our car accident attorneys concerning your personal injury case remain confidential through an attorney-client relationship.

Our law office will talk directly to the insurance company and file the necessary paperwork in the appropriate county courthouse before the statute of limitations expires.

Resources: [1] NHTSA, [2] FMCSA

Client Reviews

Jonathan Rosenfeld was professionally objective, timely, and knowledgeable. Also, his advice was extremely effective regarding my case. In addition, Jonathan was understanding and patient pertaining to any of my questions or concerns. I was very happy with the end result and I highly recommend Jonathan Rosenfeld.

- Michonne Proulx

Extremely impressed with this law firm. They took control of a bad motorcycle crash that left my uncle seriously injured. Without any guarantee of a financial recovery, they went out and hired accident investigators and engineers to help prove how the accident happened. I am grateful that they worked on a contingency fee basis as there was no way we could have paid for these services on our own.

- Ethan Armstrong

Jonathan helped my family heal and get compensation after our child was suffered a life threatening injury at daycare. He was sympathetic and in constant contact with us letting us know all he knew every step of the way. We were so blessed to find Jonathan!

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This lawyer really helped me get compensation for my motorcycle accident case. I know there is no way that I could have gotten anywhere near the amount that Mr. Rosenfeld was able to get to settle my case. Thank you.

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Jonathan did a great job helping my family navigate through a lengthy lawsuit involving my grandmother's death in a nursing home. Through every step of the case, Jonathan kept my family informed of the progression of the case. Although our case eventually settled at a mediation, I really was impressed at how well prepared Jonathan was to take the case to trial.

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