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Mike Bryant
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Minnesota Family’s Motor Home Tragedy Involves Many Issues

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The first week in April saw the horrible collision where a motor home left Interstate 35 and crashed in a valley below. There were 18 people and the crash killed five family members. The driver was a 17-year-old son. As the St Paul Pioneer Press reported:

The crash happened about 9 a.m. Sunday as an extended family and some friends returned from an annual motocross vacation in Texas. The Kansas Highway Patrol described the vehicle as a truck that had been modified with living quarters and was towing a trailer. The Freightliner cab and Haulmark trailer broke through a guardrail on Interstate 35 in northeastern Kansas outside the town of Williamsburg and plunged into a ravine.

The unimagined affect this had to have on the entire family and friends is beyond the amount of national attention the collision garnered.

Reports are that the National Transportation Safety Board will be looking at the age of the driver, the number of people in the motor home, and how the incident happened. As the Dodge Globe reported:

NTSB spokesman Peter Knudson said the agency wants to determine whether the driver, who was critically injured in the accident Sunday, was "legally able to drive" such a large vehicle and whether the applicable laws and licensing requirements "could have played a role in this accident."
"This does seem to be quite an unusual circumstance, so we want to be able to understand all the issues that surround it," Knudson told The Associated Press. "I don't recall another accident involving a motor home with this many individuals injured or killed. We have a total of 18 who were in the vehicle. I don't recall another NTSB investigation where you have that many individuals."

The local reaction was that there could be some review of the driver's license and the regulation of the vehicle. The bigger issue would be what is done federally.

There will be a lot of legal issues involved in the collision also. There will be coverage issues for the insurance that was purchased in Minnesota ( Liability, No Fault, and UM/UIM) and legal issues based on it happening in Kansas ( Statute of Limitations, reimbursement, and investigation). The key will be making sure all of the right questions are asked and answered.

Often here at the Injuryboard, the members from the different states will work together to make sure that the right thing is done in each state. It is the main reason that we work together, go to training around the country, and have put this type of network together.

Our sympathies go out to all of those involved who were injured or lost. As with any death in a Minnesota motor vehicle collision, there are a number of issues that will need to be reviewed. My partner, Joe Crumley, addressed this topic in an article for the Minnesota Lawyers Trial magazine. I was interviewed on the same topic.