A fatal accident in Florida involving a 15-passenger van hit the headlines in the USA recently with American safety officials warning about the risks these vans pose for certain groups, including tourists.
Eight people from Palm Beach, a very popular Florida tourist location, were killed last week when the van in which they were travelling crashed into a water-filled ditch. They were all members of the Independent Haitian Assembly of God in Fort Pierce, Florida and were on their way to a religious service.
The other ten passengers, one of whom was a four year-old child, sustained personal injuries of some sort. It is understood that the van, which had a 15 passenger capacity, rolled over off a road in Glades County and into a ravine.
So, with 18 people fatally injured in this tragic accident, the van was overloaded.
According to US federal statistics, 521 people died in accidents involving 15-passenger vans between 2004 and 2010. America's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) have campaigned for more than 10 years about the potential instability of 15-passenger vans and have warned church groups and colleges, among others, that overloading these vehicles makes them very difficult to manoeuvre in emergencies and makes the risk of a rollover much higher. As well as overloading, not having the correct tyre pressure can also cause these vans to roll over.
The warnings about overloading 15-passenger vans don’t just apply to church groups or colleges. Many UK tourists visit Florida each year on holiday and who knows how many of them will travel in passenger vans? The vans are often used as shuttle transport for tourists as well as being used by small companies offering day trips. They are also readily available to hire by some US-based car rental companies.
The NHTSA have recommended that anyone driving passenger vans of this size should have a commercial driver’s licence and that, despite the 15-person capacity, the load should be kept to no more than nine people (including the driver) to minimise the rollover risk.
If you have been injured in a passenger van accident in Florida or any other part of the USA and want to understand whether or not you can claim compensation then you should seek expert legal advice as soon as possible.
Slater and Gordon Lawyers have years of experience in dealing with USA accident claims and have represented many clients injured on holiday in Florida, including a couple injured when their rental car was struck by a US driver, and air crew injured because of poor driving by their work colleague.
Compensation in the USA
The law in the US varies from state to state, and whilst many people believe the compensation in America is high there can be some difficulties in pursuing a case which is why seeking the help of an expert Travel Litigation Lawyer is vital.
For example whilst motor insurance is compulsory in many states of the USA, the limits under the policies can be as low as $10,000.00. In some circumstances compensation is only payable in Florida for pain and suffering if a permanent injury can be proven. You may have a choice as to where to pursue your case, and may be entitled to bring an action either in England or the US and you need to consider each option and the pros and cons very carefully before committing to litigation.
Our Travel Litigation Lawyers have years of experience in dealing with Florida and USA accident claims and have strong links with a number of US Attorneys to ensure that you receive the most appropriate legal advice.
Joanne Berry is a Senior Personal Injury Lawyer specialising in Travel Litigation at Slater and Gordon Lawyers UK.
Slater and Gordon Lawyers are experts in dealing with claims arising from holiday accidents in Florida and most claims are dealt with on a No Win, No Fee basis. For a free consultation call us 24/7 on freephone 0800 916 9046 or contact us online.
Immediate legal representation and rehabilitation support are available anywhere in the UK.
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