Church Bus Accident
The center of gravity of a large passenger church bus or van is much higher than most automobiles, making it highly susceptible to a rollover or other accident.
A fully-loaded passenger van has a 300 percent higher chance of rolling over than a van occupied by only the driver.
In many church bus accidents, the driver never received adequate training in handling a large van full of passengers. Other times, the vehicle's heavyweight and size caused a defective tire to blow or rupture, leading to a severe accident with injuries.
A Church Bus Crash Attorney can Help
The Chicago van accident attorneys at Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers LLC represent passengers on church buses and other vehicles operated by religious organizations. Our attorneys appreciate the hesitancy many injured passengers might feel when pursuing a claim against their spiritual group.
However, most of these accidents are covered by liability insurance policies that insulate the organization from any settlement funds directly from their finances. Suppose you or a loved one were injured in a church bus or van accident on an Illinois road. In that case, we encourage you to contact our personal injury attorneys for a free case evaluation to discuss your injuries and property damage.
Church Van Accident FAQs
Are Church Vans Really Unsafe?
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), loaded Church vans are more likely to roll over than passenger cars and light trucks. Church vans have a higher center of gravity that, when fully loaded, makes them challenging to handle when taking tight turns or driving through hazardous road conditions.
The Church van must be equipped with safety standards and features to prevent rollovers, crashes, rear-end collisions, and other accidents.
Why are Church Vans Dangerous?
Research conducted by the NHTSA shows the risk of rolling over a Church van increases significantly when the number of occupants increases to ten passengers or more.
Additionally, many Church vans are operated by drivers who have received minimal training and operating a high-profile vehicle on highways, freeways, and tollways.
Are Vans Dangerous?
On average, only about thirty-three percent of all passenger vehicle accidents are involved in a rollover. However, over half of Church van crashes are rollovers.
A Church van's weight and length make it more challenging to maintain control on slippery surfaces, black ice, inclement weather, or tight turns. Many accidents in Church vans result from an inexperienced driver unfamiliar with the difficulties of operating a high-profile vehicle.
Are Minivans Safe?
According to the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety (IIHS) test results, many vans are significantly safer than Church vans and fifteen-passenger vans.
The test scores from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) show a rating a five out of five on minivan safety, including rollovers. Additionally, many car makers manufacture many vans with rearview cameras as a standard feature to maximize safety.
How can You Maximize Church Van Driver Safety?
Driving a church van is no different than a commercial vehicle where the cargo (passengers) is distributed equally inside. A balance of passengers on both sides of the van and front to back can minimize kinetic energy when taking tight turns or driving through inclement weather.
Never place the passengers behind the Church van's rear axle without fewer passengers or cargo filling up the seats between both axles. Additionally, the driver should check the tires to ensure that each one has the right air pressure based on the manufacturer's recommendations.
What is the Most Reliable Passenger Van?
According to the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety (IIHS), the safest eight-passenger vans on American roadways include the Honda Odyssey (2019), Kea Sedona (2019), Ford Transit (2019), Mercedes-Benz Sprinter (2018), Mercedes-Benz Metris (2018), and Nissan NV 3500 (2018).
Church Organized Transportation
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 bus or van fully loaded with occupants.
Less than a decade ago, the NTSB (National Transportation Safety Board) issued a warning on the large church vehicle safety hazards 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 is beyond many churches' budgets.
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 and an increased number of church 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 bus driver must wear a seat belt while operating the vehicle, the passengers have no such requirement. Many church buses and vans 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 survival rate in a rollover accident. During an accident, the church vehicle's weight and size increase 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.
A truck accident injury lawyers 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 commercial vehicle or 15-passenger van by following state and federal government
- Safety rules and regulations,
- The church employed unqualified drivers to operate the vehicle without commercial driver's licenses, placing the safety of the passengers at risk,
- The van was equipped with defective tires or faulty brakes, which led to the car accident,
- The motorist was impaired through distraction, drugs, or alcohol.
- The driver caused severe injuries and fatal crashes by turning passenger vans into oncoming traffic traveling in the opposite direction.
In early 2019, several lives were taken near Gainesville, Florida, in a deadly Church bus accident when the passenger vehicle was headed toward Walt Disney World. Florida Highway Patrol stated that the seven people killed in the auto accident included children.
All religious organizations in the United States must follow roadway guidelines regulated by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Any bus accident victim can seek compensation from the church's insurance company or through a claim or wrongful death lawsuit.
As a plaintiff in a case, you can hold all defendants liable for your losses if the commercial vehicle was operating on church business or school travel.
Hiring an Illinois Church Van Accident Attorney
Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers LLC handles severe passenger vehicle accident cases in Illinois just like yours. We offer a free initial consultation to discuss financial compensation and provide you with legal options to proceed with the insurance company.
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.
Our accident lawyers will gather medical documents and review police reports to prepare for an out-of-court settlement or jury trial. Our lawyers are always mindful of taking steps to protect your church, church pastors and ministers, and your 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. Contact our law firm today at (888) 424-5757 (toll-free phone call) or through the contact form to schedule a free consultation.
All discussions with our law firm remain confidential through an attorney-client relationship. Our attorneys follow social distancing guidelines to prevent the spread of Covid-19 (coronavirus).