This past Sunday, a 15 passenger van carrying 15 farm workers from West Palm Beach to New Jersey rolled over, killing 3 and catastrophically injuring 11 others traveling in the van. The van rollover accident occurred when one of the van’s tires separated, causing the driver to lose control.
For many years, 15-passenger vans have been the vehicle of choice when transporting large groups of people. These vehicles are often used for transporting church groups, school children, and large groups of workers.
Since 1990, there have been over 500 reported fatalities involving single-vehicle, 15 passenger van rollovers. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) studies have shown that the design of these large vans increases the rate at which the rear tires wear. When a tire blows, as was the case in Sunday’s 15 passenger van rollover crash, it is extremely difficult for the driver of the van to regain control. What tends to happen is the weight of the engine takes over and forces the van into a spin. The spinning causes an unequal distribution of weight, and within seconds, the van rolls over. This was the case Sunday Morning, when the 1997 15-passenger van being driven by 57-year-old Vilbrun Bertrand, rolled several times, ejecting multiple passengers and claiming the lives of 38-year-old Benitoh Delice, 45-year-old Berteau Nazairre, and 34-year-old Sonja Maubrun.
Many times, 15-passenger vans are operated in the South where roads have high surface temperatures and tires blow out or delaminate preceding the rollover accident. Many 15-passenger vans still have recalled tires on them; that is, defective tires that are prone to blow out or tread separation.
As an experienced PA 15 passenger van rollover attorney who has investigated and litigated many rollover claims involving tire defects, I am aware of internal corporate documents possessed by the automobile manufacturers that clearly indicate the dangers of these vehicles. For over three decades, the experienced van rollover lawyers of Reiff & Bily have been successfully investigating and litigating 15 passenger van rollovers. Our hearts and prayers go out to the victims and their families.