One person died and several people were injured in a 15-passenger van accident in the Lee County area of Wisconsin this week, according to a news report on WISTV’s Web site. According to the report, the 1992 Ford van filled with members of the Prayer and Faith Temple in Hopkins, Wisconsin overturned on the freeway after its left tire blew. Officials say the van flipped several times. Several passengers were ejected from the vehicle and were transported to area hospitals.
One woman, believed to be in her 40s, died in the crash, the television station reported. According to EMT reports, at least 18 people were crammed into the 15-passenger van. Sixteen out of the 18, of which two were children, were taken to the hospital with injuries, the article says.
It is hard to believe that church groups and community organizations are still using these “death trap” 15-passenger vans. It is a disgrace that with all the information that is now available about these defective vehicles that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has not mandated these vans off our roads. It is shameful that NHTSA still allows them to be sold to the unsuspecting public.
Why are religious organizations and schools still using these “death traps” when there is so much information and evidence showing how unsafe these vehicles are? Any organization that still uses these 15-passenger vans for the transportation of people must be held accountable for the consequences of their choices. The maker of this van must be held accountable as well. The maker is fully aware of the dangerous propensities of these vans. Just visit these Web sites http://www.nhtsa.dot.gov/cars/problems/studies/15PassVans/15PassCustomerAdvisory.htm and http://www.15-passenger-van-accidents.com/recalls.shtml to see how dangerous these vehicles are.
Based upon the news story, this accident started with a blown tire. Why did the tire fail? The manufacturer of the tire may have a substantial responsibility for this accident.
Annually, on average, 86 people die as a result of 15-passenger van accidents. Half of those fatalities are in single-vehicle rollover accidents, just like this one in Wisconsin. In June 2004, NHTSA released a warning to consumers stating that 15-passenger vans have a high risk for rollover accidents. Even earlier than that, similar warnings were issued in 2001 and 2002. What’s more, this information shows that the more people in these vans, the higher and more severe the number of injuries. Why do organizations and schools repeatedly ignore these warnings and continue using these vans? Economics? It isn’t a good idea to expose your students, parishioners or friends to the substantially increased likelihood of a serious injury accident to save money in the transportation budget.
This is not the only instance. In 2005, nine Utah State University Agriculture Department students perished in a freeway crash as they were returning from a field trip. That accident was almost identical to this week’s Wisconsin crash. Their tire blew and the vehicle went off the road. The following year the victims’ families filed wrongful death lawsuits against Daimler Chrysler and the tire company.
My advice, every person injured in this Wisconsin crash and every family that lost a loved one, seek out and retain one of the very few law firms in the country that has specialized in 15-passenger van cases against auto manufacturers. Retain one of these firms and you will have the best chance of receiving the compensation you rightfully deserve. Your lawsuit will hit the auto maker in the pocket book – the only place that makes a difference to them. It will motivate the corporate giant to produce safer products, stop selling this particular type of vehicle for passenger use on our nation’s highways and saving about 85 lives a year. I expect there will be a great deal of litigation over this accident. Get an experienced law firm on your side early. Call us, we’d be glad to assist.
As with any serious injury accident, I am available for telephone consultations with injured people and the family of deceased victims. Consultations with me are free and totally confidential. Call 800-956-0123, to arrange. If I can’t assist you, I will put you in contact with a law firm that can.