The center of gravity of a large passenger church van or bus is much higher than most automobiles, which makes it highly susceptible to a rollover or other accident. In fact, a fully loaded passenger van has a 300 percent greater chance of rolling over compared to a van occupied by only the driver. In many Illinois church van accidents, the driver has not received adequate training in handling a large van full of passengers. Other times, the heavy weight and size of the vehicle cause a defective tire to blow or rupture, leading to a severe accident with injuries.
The Illinois van accident attorneys at Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers LLC represent passengers on church vans and other vehicles operated by religious organizations. Our attorneys appreciate the hesitancy many injured passengers may feel when it comes to pursuing a claim against their group. However, the vast majority of these accidents are covered by liability insurance policies which insulate the organization from any settlement funds coming directly from their finances. If you or a loved one was injured in a church van or bus accident on an Illinois road, we encourage you to contact our Chicago injury law firm for a free case evaluation.
Churches, organizations, schools, and colleges often use large passenger vans to transport large groups of individuals between locations. However, since the 1990s, there have been significant safety concerns over the reliability of a passenger church van fully loaded with occupants. Less than a decade ago, the NTSB (National Transportation Safety Board) issued a warning on the safety hazards of large vans and called for better safety regulations.
By 2010, the FMCSA (Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration) changed compliance regulations requiring a CMV (commercial motor vehicle) to follow effective safety measures and meet new safety qualifications. Unfortunately, the high expense of retrofitting older vans with new safety features are beyond the budget of many churches. As a result, many van owners have not complied with the new regulations, placing all van passengers and drivers in harm’s way.
Other Causes Commonly Involved in Illinois Church Van Accidents
In addition to a high center of gravity being involved in an increased number of church van and bus rollovers, most van accidents share common factors that include:
- Driver negligence
- Driving impaired because of a distraction, alcohol or drugs
- Lack of training
- Vehicle instability at any speed when fully loaded
- Transporting passengers beyond the van’s weight capacity
- Tire blowouts caused by defective or poorly inflated tires
- Defective brakes
- Malfunctioning or missing safety features
Accident Liability: Who is to Blame When There is an Accident Involving a Church Van?
Even though the van driver is required by law to wear a seat belt while operating the vehicle, the passengers have no such requirement. In fact, many church vans and buses do not provide a seat belt for every passenger, making it impossible to remain safe inside the vehicle and secured to the seat while the vehicle is moving.
Statistics maintained by the National Transportation Safety Board show that it is much safer than not to be restrained in a seat belt any time the van is moving, with a higher rate of survival in a rollover accident. The weight and size of the church vehicle during an accident increases the passenger’s chances of being injected through the window during a rollover crash when not restrained by a seatbelt.
Protect Your Rights as a Passenger or Motorists Injured by a Church Van
If you have suffered a severe injury or a loved one has died because of a church van accident, you might be able to seek compensation. A skilled attorney specializing in motor vehicle accident cases can file a personal injury claim or wrongful death lawsuit on your behalf. An experienced law firm can build a solid case for compensation against every party at fault. The lawyer might be able to prove negligence by showing:
- The owner failed to maintain the church van or bus by following federal and state safety rules and regulations,
- The church employed unqualified drivers to operate the vehicle placing the safety of the passengers at risk,
- The van was equipped with defective tires or faulty brakes, which led to the accident,
- The driver was impaired through distraction, drugs or alcohol.
Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers LLC handle severe motor vehicle accident cases in Illinois just like yours. We offer a free initial consultation to discuss your case and provide you with legal options on how to proceed. Based on the level of your injuries, and the degree of required care, we can build a solid case to ensure you receive fair and adequate compensation from the owner’s insurance carrier and any other third party that is also at fault for your injuries.
Call our law firm at (888) 424-5757 to discuss your injuries, damages and losses. Our team of church van accident attorneys can investigate your claim, speak to eyewitnesses and gather medical documents and police reports to prepare for an out-of-court settlement or jury trial always mindful of the taking steps to protect your church and faith during negotiations. We work on all Illinois bus accident cases on contingency and require no payments from you until your compensation claim is successfully resolved.