Church Van Wreck Raises Lots of Questions

Earlier today, a 15 passenger van wrecked in Florida killing eight people on board and critically injuring five others. This crash like most other cases involving passenger vans will have a number of key issues including:

  1. Were the occupants wearing their seatbelt? It has already been reported that a 4 year old child was not in a car seat. We also know 18 people were in a 15 passenger van so at a minimum 3 of them were not wearing their seatbelt. In serious accidents, especially frontal crashes, the components of the seatbelt system will have “witness marks” on them if the occupant was wearing a seatbelt. The D-ring, the webbing of the belt and latch will also show signs of load caused by a combination of the accident forces and the occupant’s body weight. While the failure to wear a seatbelt is not admissible in the typical motor vehicle accident claim, it is admissible in a product liability claim.
  2. Were there any mechanical issues with the vehicle or its tires? One of the accident victims has reportedly indicated the driver did not notice a curve in the road and then could not stop in time. So obviously the braking system will be analyzed and likely the tires too. As explained here, churches often fail to adequately maintain their tires.
  3. What were the qualifications of the driver? Under Florida law (and Tennessee too), a commercial driver’s license or CDL is required to drive any vehicle transporting 16 people or more, including the driver. Did the driver have poor safety record such that the church was
  4. negligent in allowing him to drive its vehicle?
  5. Did the church have adequate insurance on the vehicle? Are any of the accident victims covered by underinsured motorist coverage?
  6. Was speed an issue in the crash? Accident reconstructionists can measure both the skid marks left by the vehicle’s tires as well as the crush or damage to the vehicle and accurately state the speed at the time the crash sequence began.
  7. Was the driver under the influence of alcohol or narcotics at the time of the crash? While DUI accidents are down, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has issued two reports that show drugged driving (both prescription and illicit medications) are on the rise.

If you would like to discuss a church van or passenger van accident, please contact us at toll-free at  866-812-8787 for a free, no-obligation consultation with one of our award-winning lawyers.