Questions about Van and SUV Accidents
Little Rock, Arkansas
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Q. Why are these vehicles so unsafe?
Twelve and 15-passenger vans are large; most people, unless they have been trained, don't know how to drive them safety. Because of their design, they are prone to rolling over. The more passengers they hold, the more unstable they become. According to a 2008 report by the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA), ongoing safety issues for these vans involve:
- Maintenance: Fatal rollovers of 15-passenger vans are most likely to involve tire failure, since excessively worn or improperly inflated tires can lead to loss of vehicle control and ultimately a rollover.
- Experience: Licensing and training requirements for drivers of 15-passenger vans are of concern because some van drivers may not operate such large vehicles on a regular basis. They may be unfamiliar with the way the vans handle and how they should be maintained. NHTSA has recommended all drivers of these vans have a commercial driver's license.
- Design: Fifteen-passenger vans are larger than most other passenger vehicles and an inexperienced driver may have difficulty negotiating corners, backing up, or performing other maneuvers. These vans also have high centers of gravity, making them less stable than vehicles such as cars. Adding passengers raises the center of gravity of a vehicle, so given the greater seating capacity of 15-passenger vans they become increasingly difficult to handle and less stable as passengers are added.
- Belt use: An unrestrained 15-passenger van occupant involved in a single-vehicle crash is three times more likely to die than in another type of vehicle.
Q. What are makes/models of these vans ?
As of July 1, 2007, there were 503,346 15-passenger vans registered in the United States. Most all of these vans (85%) are Ford Econo Club E-350 and Dodge B350/3500. Only three make/models of 15-passenger vans are currently produced and sold - the Chevrolet Express 3500, the Ford Econo Club E-350, and the GMC Savana 3500.
Q: Why is it so important to hire a passenger van attorney who is also an experienced trial attorney?
Most personal injury cases settle before trial, but if you want to maximize your settlement, your attorney has to be willing to go all the way to the courtroom. The Duncan Firm has done this many times on major cases, including passenger van cases. Major business and insurance companies know this, so it is an incentive for them to settle. And if they don't, we have a track record of beating them in court.
Q. What if my family member was killed in a van accident?
A fatality most likely will involve a wrongful death lawsuit. In this case the victim's spouse or children are entitled to damages for loss of wages, pain and suffering and loss of marital companionship.
Q: What will an attorney cost?
Duncan Firm will not charge anything to represent you. We will take a percentage of the settlement offer as payment when we win.
Q: Are there any hidden fees?
No. Duncan Firm will not charge you fees for consultations, opening your file, copies, long distance, etc. Before you hire a lawyer, make sure you find out what they will be charging you, as these hidden fees can add up.
Q: What is my accident and injury claim worth?
The value of your van accident injury claim depends on the severity and permanency of your injuries. A Duncan Firm accident injury attorney can assess your claim and tell you what it may be worth.
Q: Should I accept the offer that the insurance company has given me?
An experienced attorney often can get insurance companies to substantially increase the amount of a settlement offer. If you have already received an offer for your injuries, contact a Duncan Firm accident attorney for an assessment of the offer to see if it is fair for your circumstances. You will not be charged for this consultation.
Q: How long does it take to settle most passenger van injury cases?
It depends on the facts of your case. Passenger van crashes usually involve multiple victims. This makes the case high stakes for the insurance company. The more fatalities and severe injuries involved, the longer it usually takes to settle. We also don't recommend settling until the full extent of the patient's injuries and outcome is known. We want to make sure future medical costs are included in any settlement. Talk to an attorney who has dealt with these cases for an assessment of your situation.
Q: Will pursuing my passenger van case take up a lot of my time?
No. At the Duncan Firm we often only have to meet with you for an initial interview and then we can do business over the phone. Of course, if we have to go to court, it will involve more time. But we will treat your time as valuable as we treat our own.
Q: Will I have to go to trial?
Most personal injury cases don't go to trial. However, we treat each case as if it is going to be tried in court. It's also an incentive for the insurance company to settle on your terms.
Q: Lawsuits can be expensive. Will it cost me any money up front for filing fees, court costs, expert witness fees and any other costs?
Filing a lawsuit, paying court costs and expert witness fees can be very expensive. Duncan Firm will pay these costs, including paying expert witnesses who can make the difference between getting thousands of dollars and getting nothing for your personal injury claim. Before you hire a lawyer, make sure they have adequate resources to pursue your case.
Q: What if the person who caused the accident does not have any insurance?
Most insurance includes uninsured motorist's coverage. In this case, your insurance company will be obligated for your damages. Duncan Firm will pursue your case against your own insurance company the same as with any other insurance company.
Q. What if I don't have any insurance?
If you were a van passenger, the owner and driver of the vehicle will be held responsible and we will deal with their insurance companies to get you money to pay for your losses.
Q: Who pays my medical bills?
Most Arkansas motor vehicle insurance policies have Personal Injury Protection, or PIP.This is no-fault healthcare coverage that covers your accident related medical expenses for up to one year or $15,000. Unfortunately, insurance companies do not like to pay these bills and will often send you for an "independent" medical exam, where you are evaluated by a doctor who works for companies that mainly do exams for insurance companies. No matter what these doctors say, if your personal doctor (or the doctor who first treated you for your injuries) believes the treatment is related to the accident, Duncan Firm can almost always get the insurance company to pay the medical expenses. We do not charge clients for helping get their medical bills paid.
Q: What if my medical bills are more than my Personal Injury Protection coverage limit?
If your medical bills are more than $15,000 or your treatment goes on for more than a year, your personal injury protection insurance will no longer pay your bills. You are then personally responsible for any bills in excess of your personal injury protection coverage. If you have healthcare coverage, it will often pay for treatment in excess of your personal injury protection coverage. But the health insurance company usually will want to be paid back out of any settlement or judgment you get.
Q: Doctors are coming after me for unpaid bills, can you help?
Duncan Firm attorneys routinely work with healthcare providers to keep them from sending clients to collections for unpaid bills. Often, we can keep them from sending bills to collections if we agree in writing that we will pay them first once we get paid on a settlement or judgment. When there is not enough insurance coverage to pay all of the bills, we can usually get healthcare providers to reduce their bills low enough so that there is still money left over for our clients.
Q: I am out of work as a result of my injuries. Can you help me?
Yes. Your personal injury protection insurance provides wage loss for up to 52 weeks after your accident. Duncan Firm attorneys and staff will work with your doctors and your insurance company to make sure you are promptly paid the maximum amount of your wage loss benefits. If your injuries are permanent and you are forced to find a new line of work, the other party should have to pay for any future lost wages and retraining costs. We often hire a vocational rehabilitation expert to determine how much your future lost wages and retraining expenses will be so we can make these costs part of any settlement or judgment.
Q: I don't want to bankrupt somebody. What happens to the person I sue?
Although the lawsuit will have the other driver's name on it, we are actually going after the insurance company. In most every case, the person we sue does not pay - their insurance company pays.
Q: What parts of Arkansas do you handle cases in?
Although we are located in Little Rock, we handle cases throughout Arkansas and even in other states.
Please call or email our law office today if you would like a free consultation with one of our passenger van attorneys.
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