Earlier this week in Glades County, Florida, a church van packed with 18 people ran a stop sign and plunged into a ditch that was partially filled with water. According to one local news source, eight of the 18 passengers died in the accident. The other 10 passengers were taken to four area hospitals with varying injuries.
Evidently, police are still trying to determine what caused the accident. What investigators do know is that the van was traveling eastbound on State Road 78 when it ran a stop sign at the intersection of US Highway 27. After running the stop sign, the van continued through four lanes of traffic before it plunged into the partially filled ditch. No one saw the van crash; the only witnesses were those aboard the van. It is unclear why the van ran the stop sign, although investigators did tell reporters that the van was rated to carry 16 people and there were 18 inside at the time of the fatal accident.
At the time of the most recent publication, eight people inside the van had died and 10 were still suffering from their injuries. Of the 10, all but two were in stable condition. The other two remain in critical condition. Police are continuing their investigation and will update the news media when more is learned about the tragic accident.
Accidents Involving Multi-Passenger Vehicles
Any fatal accident is tragic, but when multi-passenger vehicles like the church van in the accident above are involved the potential for widespread tragedy increases. Like other drivers on the road, the operators of these multi-passenger vans have a duty to operate their vehicles within the bounds of the law in a safe and responsible manner. This means following all posted speed limits, abiding by other posted traffic laws, and ensuring that the vehicle is not overloaded or otherwise unsafe.
Here, it seems as though the van was packed above capacity. This may have had nothing to do with the fatal accident, but at the same time it very well could have. For example, if the additional passengers obscured the driver’s view,made the van more difficult to maneuver, or put added stress on the tires, the accident may have been at least in part caused by the driver’s decision to operate the van under these compromised conditions.
Liability in Florida Passenger Accidents
Before an accident victim is entitled to recover based on the injuries they sustained in a traffic accident, they need to show that a driver was negligent. This is often the driver of the other vehicle, but it doesn’t necessarily need to be. The driver of the car an accident victim was riding in can still be held liable for their negligence. There are numerous ways to prove this kind of case, but most often it involves showing that the driver was engaging in some kind of prohibited conduct (such as drunk driving or distracted driving) or that they were negligent in the maintenance, repair, or operation of their vehicle. If an injured passenger is able to prove driver negligence, they may be entitled to monetary damages for their injuries.
Have You Been Involved in a Florida Accident?
If you or a loved one has recently been involved in a serious or fatal Florida accident while you were a passenger, you may be entitled to monetary damages. Even if you know the driver, the reality is that the driver likely carries auto insurance exactly for this purpose. To learn more about Florida auto accidents, and to speak to a dedicated Florida personal injury attorney about your case, call 352-387-8700 to set up a free initial consultation.
More Blog Posts:
Canadian Motorcyclist Killed in Accident in Florida, Ocala Injury Lawyers Blog, published January 22, 2015.
Florida’s “2 Drunk 2 Care” Driver Pleads Guilty to DUI Manslaughter in Fatal Crash, Ocala Injury Lawyers Blog, published March 3, 2015.