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Minivan-Related Road Accidents Involving Children

There is nothing as sad as a child who has been seriously hurt. And, as any parent already knows, there are few things that strike the most fear into a mother or father’s heart than to be told that their young child has sustained a permanent or long-term injury. Combine such a life-altering injury with a senseless cause, such as a random car accident, and the tragedy is all the more distressing to the family of that youngster. There are few if any words that can console a heartbroken family when facing this kind of event.

As Maryland personal injury lawyers, the legal team at Lebowitz & Mzhen, LLC, understand how precious every child is. Children are the most important part of any loving family; of any society. They are the pride and joy of their mothers and fathers, and of the community. But, when a child is hurt or killed, the parents feel the pain and loss more than any other person. Unfortunately, the world is a dangerous place and it is difficult to protect our children every waking hour of the day.

Hard as it is to state, some children can be very prone to injury in the things they do or the ways in which they play. Many other youngsters may not have a predilection for dangerous activities, but can also be placed into situations where danger abounds. In our modern world, traffic accidents are often a fact of life. And, while not everyone will be exposed to a life-threatening highway accident or side-impact collision, there are people, both young and old, who will possibly be hurt in a car or truck wreck in the near future.

One of the more frequently seen passenger vehicles these days is the family minivan. These models, which have been around for decades, offer a large amount of carrying capacity in terms of passengers and cargo. Unfortunately, the taller profile of most minivans makes these utilitarian motor vehicles a bit more unstable than their relatively lower-profile passenger sedan cousins. Since many families have opted for the convenience and roominess of a minivan, a significant number of children -- from babies and toddlers to pre-teens and high schoolers -- may be exposed to additional danger on the road.

One of the most serious safety issues with minivans and other high-profile motor vehicles is their high center of gravity and reduced stability in high winds and during emergency driving maneuvers. Besides being susceptible to cross winds and other aerodynamic problems, the taller profile of these passenger vehicles can make them more likely to roll over during extreme highway maneuvers; rollovers also can occur if these kinds of vehicles are involved in traffic accidents that cause them to be pushed over onto their side.

It goes without saying that larger versions of the minivan, such as Ford’s E350 and other similar vehicles, have even more potential for a roll-over incident under the right conditions. Yet, family minivans can and do experience roll-over events from time to time. Because these vehicles are used to transport parents and their children, the odds of a child being injured in a traffic-related crash involving a minivan can be quite high.

Although minivans are typically lumped together with other passenger vehicles, such as family sedans and economy cars, they are not quite the same when it comes to handling and responsiveness. Furthermore, drivers don’t always understand how the handling differences between a minivan and a coupe or sedan can lead to problems under extreme driving situations. As personal injury lawyers, the legal staff at Lebowitz & Mzhen know that preventing a car crash is far easier than recovering from any bodily injuries sustained in a collision that has already taken place.

For a better approach to safety when operating a minivan, the following safe driving tips for minivan drivers may help some people to avoid a crash, or at least reduce the severity of one, and thereby maybe even save some lives including those of the adult passengers as well as any children who may be traveling inside the minivan at the time of the crash.

Understand Your Vehicle’s Blind Spots Because minivans and their larger cousins are much more bulky than other passengers car models, the blind spots associated with these motor vehicles can be significant as well. Before your first drive in a minivan, familiarize yourself with the potential dangers hidden in each troublesome blind spot. This is especially important when attempting to execute lane changes and when merging onto expressways.

Know Where Your Vehicle Controls Are Just like almost every vehicle, certain controls may not be in the exact same position inside the vehicle as on other family cars. Minivans in particular have driver controls that are often located in very different places than those found in smaller passenger vehicles. It is always wise to locate and identify each of the critical driver controls prior to taking the minivan out into traffic. Familiarizing oneself with the specific controls on the center console versus those on the steering wheel may help to reduce the chance of an accident.

Adjust the Driver’s Seat Correctly Adequate seating comfort is an important consideration for every driver, regardless of the type of passenger vehicle. The driver seat in a minivan is usually taller than those in other smaller vehicles on the road. Because of this, seeing out the front windshield is usually not a problem, but for shorter individuals the outward vision in front of the vehicle has a lot to do with proper seat positioning. Be sure to adjust the driver’s seat correctly before taking your minivan out into heavy traffic.

Note Your Vehicle’s True Dimensions This can apply as much to full-size sedans as it does to minivans or larger 15-seat transport vans, but drivers of any vehicle should become familiar with the overall length and other dimensions of the vehicle they are operating. As with any longer-wheelbase car, routine maneuvers -- such as backing up and parallel parking -- can be made more difficult or involve extra attention in a minivan. To get a feel for the way your minivan drives and functions, get a feel for the size and length of your vehicle by practicing typical driving maneuvers in a safe, low-traffic area before venturing out into densely packed urban driving environments.

Avoid Distractions When operating a minivan, or any vehicle for that matter, staying focused on the roadway ahead and the immediate traffic environment around you is of primary importance. Because parents usually have a load of kids traveling with them, it is easy to be distracted by those youngsters; however, avoid the temptation to become too involved in the routine goings on inside your vehicle.

Don’t Overload Your Vehicle Minivans are handy and offer increased capacity for passengers and cargo over other family vehicles. However, this doesn’t mean that these vehicles can carry anything or everything. Do not overload your vehicle or exceed its rated carrying capacity as recommended by the vehicle manufacturer. Just as important, avoid placing all the heavy cargo at the very rear of the vehicle as this could drastically alter its handling characteristics. Remember to distribute the load evenly, and be certain to secure any heavy or bulky items so that they do not shift under braking or become a projectile during an emergency stop.

Although many minivan owners might not consider their vehicle to be any different than a typical passenger car, because of a minivan’s greater cargo and passenger capabilities it is wise to understand the differences in order to avoid being caught up in a bad traffic collision, which could involve injuries or death. As auto accident lawyers, the staff at Lebowitz & Mzhen has seen too many people who have been injured in car and trucking-related crashes that could have been avoided with a little extra precaution.

Since children are some of the most frequent passengers in family minivans, it only makes sense to understand the special utility and driving characteristics of these vehicles. Whether you live, work or shop in Bowie, Rockville, Gaithersburg, or the District, if you or a family member is involved in a negligence-related roadway accident, it is a good idea to contact a qualified personal injury attorney to discuss your options.

We know that parents and grandparents feel great responsibility for their young charges. When another motorist causes a traffic wreck that sends a child to the emergency room, the worry and concern for that youngster can be overwhelming. The attorneys at Lebowitz & Mzhen have the training and skills to help victims and their families recover damages resulting from injuries to children caused by a serious automobile or commercial trucking collision. Do not hesitate to talk with an experienced personal injury lawyer in such instances.

We understand the anger and regret that many parents feel when their child has been seriously hurt. We are dedicated to helping families whose child has been injured or killed in a negligence-related traffic accident. Because of this, our legal team prepares each client’s case with the full intent to go to trial. While many cases do end up being heard in a court of law, some are settled out of court simply on the strength of the facts.

If you or your child has been hurt in a car crash caused by a negligent driver, we highly recommend that you speak to a skilled personal injury lawyer with experience in handling Maryland auto injury cases. Our attorneys are ready and willing to discuss your car or truck injury case so that you may be better informed regarding your rights to compensation under the law. Please feel free to contact us toll-free at (800) 654-1949, or end us an email; either to Jack Lebowitz or Vadim Mzhen to set up a meeting to discuss your case.

Testimonials
Throughout the process [of the motor vehicle collision case] you were available, responsive and up front. You were available for my questions, and my need for reassurance, and when the opportunity arose to better the outcome of my case, you did not shy away from the extra work. You have proven yourself to be an honest, realistic and caring advocate for the little guy in need. I will refer your firm to any who may be in similar need.
★★★★★
I can't thank you enough for your efforts and dedication to resolving my case. I also want to thank you for your consistent professional manner, touched with that extra personal care that I sensed whenever we communicated. . . . You are a wonderful person and I wish you continued success. Again, thanks for everything. Hallie W.
★★★★★
I am proud to have had Lebowitz & Mzhen represent me in an automobile personal injury case I was involved with. Not only did they come through with a settlement worth far more than I thought possible, the entire office was always friendly, knowledgeable, and ready to answer any questions I had. Should an incident like this occur again, I will not hesitate to contact Lebowitz & Mzhen for their counsel, advice and representation, and I would wholeheartedly recommend them to anyone seeking honest and effective attorneys. Mark B.
★★★★★