Accidents Involving Minivans and Large Passenger Vans

As any high school student knows, physics plays a large part in our lives even if the majority of the public does not understand the inner workings of that type of science. In terms of motor vehicles and traffic-related collisions, engineers and accident reconstruction experts apply the theories and technical concepts of physics to understand the motion of cars, trucks and sport utility vehicles prior to and after a highway crash. As Maryland personal injury attorneys, we rely heavily on the analysis of roadway accident experts to determine responsibility for many negligent auto accidents.

At the law offices of Lebowitz & Mzhen, LLC, the success of any number of personal injury lawsuits may hinge on the findings of police accident reconstruction teams as well as the professional observations of engineers and other expert witnesses. One thing that any auto accident lawyer realizes early on is that different vehicles exhibit different behaviors in extreme driving situations.

Just like a slim Olympic ice skater or gymnast can change directions more quickly than a larger, more bulky weightlifter due to the vast difference in body size and mass, so do the various types of cars and trucks maneuver and handle differently on the road. Over the past several decades sport utility vehicles (SUVs) have become so very common on our nation’s roadways that most people now know that these large vehicles have very different driving characteristics than the typical sedan or compact car.

In most people’s minds, the ubiquitous SUV is a strong, though lumbering vehicle capable of protecting their family in the event of a bad traffic collision. However, as most every experienced auto accident attorney knows, occupants riding in these SUVs can also end up being caught up in sometimes deadly rollover crashes simply because the driver did not respect the more top-heavy aspect of his or her vehicle.

Rollover incidents in large sport utility vehicles and other large trucks can cause serious injuries. This is not always readily obvious to the passengers until the event is in progress, but the deadly results can become evident in only moments once such a crash commences. The legal staff at Lebowitz & Mzhen are well aware of the dangers posed by these taller and less stable vehicles. We also know that other large vehicles with high centers of gravity can be just as dangerous given the proper circumstances.

While SUVs generally get the most attention when it comes to the danger of rollover incidents, it is instructive to point out that even passengers riding in basic family minivans or larger-capacity commercial passenger vans can suffer the same fate as those individuals who travel in SUVs. And when a rollover crash occurs, there is usually no time for passengers to react.

As mentioned previously, SUVs, minivans and large-capacity passenger vans all feature a rather high center of gravity along with a comparatively narrow track, which can make the vehicle less stable under certain driving situations. Emergency maneuvers or quick lane changes at highway speeds can unsettle these types of vehicles with devastating results. When the design of a motor vehicle is suspected as a contributing factor in an injury-related traffic accident, it may be time to contact a skilled Maryland auto injury lawyer.

Those large-capacity vans, such as the 15-passenger Ford E350 passenger vans that have been used for years to transport people around airports, as well as for other uses, have become so well-known for their inherent danger that many school systems no longer purchase or lease them. However, church groups, daycare centers, private shuttle services and other organizations still maintain these kinds of vehicles in their transportation fleets.

The data is out there. Certain studies by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) show that accident frequency increases when these large-sized vans are loaded with 10 or more occupants, and even more so when those individuals are seated toward the rear of the vehicle. And the danger can be increased even more, according to experts, when the passenger load is shifted to an area behind the rear axle. The attorneys at Lebowitz & Mzhen understand this and other factors, such as improper tire inflation, can also contribute to the potential instability or dangerous handling characteristics of these types of vehicles.

When a rollover crash does occur, the odds of the occupants surviving such an event can have a great deal to do with the basic occupant protection features provided by the vehicle itself. Unfortunately, with some SUVs and passenger vans, the lack of adequate roof and pillar strength combined with a lack of seatbelts or failed door latches can all contribute to severe injuries and even death of the driver and passengers.

Not surprisingly, because many of these vehicles are in regular use throughout the country, almost 300,000 rollover-type traffic accidents occur annually and take the lives of nearly 10,000 people every year; many more are either seriously injured or permanently disabled as a result. Sadly, the unpredictable nature of rollover accidents can catch victims by surprise. At Lebowitz & Mzhen, we study all the facts pertaining to a client’s auto injury case in order to build a strong lawsuit against the responsible party(s).

The rollover tendency of SUVs and passenger vans necessitates any driver of these kinds of vehicles to exercise care while operating the vehicle. This includes not exceeding recommend speed limits, maintaining a smooth driving style and being alert to any potential emergency situations that may take place ahead of the vehicle. Unfortunately, drivers who pilot these vehicles typically receive no special training.

We know that a life-changing accident is just one mistake away when riding in these kinds of vehicles. If you or a loved one has been hurt in an SUV rollover or a crash involving a large 15-passenger van, Lebowitz & Mzhen urge you to seek the assistance of a competent lawyer skilled in personal injury law and experienced in fighting for victims’ rights to compensation. Our job is to determine if an automaker sold a potentially dangerous or defective vehicle; or to find out whether the driver or owner of the van may be liable for the accident that caused a victim’s injuries.

As skilled personal injury attorneys, Lebowitz & Mzhen is ready to help victims better understand their legal rights when it comes to recovery of damages, such as emergency room costs, surgical expenses, charges for rehabilitation, lost wages, and other monetary consequences of a serious rollover accident. We offer free, no-obligation consultations to individuals who have been hurt in a Maryland roadway collision. Call us to arrange a meeting to discuss your motor vehicle-related injuries and learn more about your legal options. You may send an email to either Jack Lebowitz or Vadim Mzhen, or call our offices toll-free at (800) 654-1949.