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UPDATE: Nine Children Injured In Dana Point Accident With Elementary School Van from Aliso Viejo After It Crashed Into Tree By Point Harbor Drive and Cove Road

Oct 4, 2018

Five Children Were Critically Injured In A Car Accident When Their Elementary School Van Experienced A Brake Failure and Crashed Into a Eucalyptus Tree By Point Harbor Drive and Cove Road

 DANA, POINT (October 3, 2018) Nine children were injured when their Aliso Viejo Elementary School Van lost brakes in an accident and crashed into a tree by Point Harbor Drive and Cove Road by Baby Beach.

The driver of the van lost control of her vehicle as she was taking the children to a after-school paddle board surfing program. A witness to the van accident says that the van towing a small trailer almost hit him as it was swerving down the road.

It was at that moment that he realized that the van had lost its brakes. The driver of the van told reporters that she aimed for the smallest eucalyptus tree she could find upon losing brakes.  

Reporters are saying that the hill where the accident took place is one of the steepest in Orange County.

Three children have been released from the hospital, but another five remain in critical condition and were transported to Mission Hospital. Children were pouring out of the van screaming and some were bleeding from the mouth.

Surfboards littered the scene of the van accident as investigators were examining what happened.  An investigation into the crash involving the Elementary School van from Aliso Viejo remains ongoing at this time.

What Causes Brakes To Fail?

It has been estimated that around 94% of all accidents involve some element of human error. But mechanical malfunctions regularly contribute to accidents. Brake failures often take place down hills and leave drivers with few options about what to do. Here are just a few of the reasons why brake failures occur:

  • Unreliable Parts: Brakes are made up of a number of parts including pads, hydraulic lines and air-lines. When one part malfunctions this can lead to a catastrophic failure of the whole system.

  • Fluid Leaks: Brakes operate by engaging a system of hydraulic actuators. If fluid with the brakes leaks, this can cause operational failure.

  • Brake Wear: Brakes pads get worn every time you put your foot on them. Eventually they can be so worn that there is not sufficient material left to press up against the tire. Metal is pressing up against metal at that point which offers almost no resistance.

  • Rust: Brake lines are made of metal and are susceptible to the elements as are other parts of the car. Rust will typically be a bigger problem for drivers that must operate their vehicles in heavy rain or snow.

  • Defective Hoses: Like brake lines brake hoses are susceptible to the elements and can be worn down by dirt, snow and water. After time these hoses can become brittle and crack.

Drivers should regularly have maintenance done on their vehicles in order to make sure they are in working order. This is especially important for drivers that live in cities with steep hills like Dana Point or San Francisco. Drivers who don’t properly maintain their brakes and cause an accident may face civil liability if anyone is injured. Victims of brake failure accidents may be able to receive compensation for their injuries by hiring a car accident attorney.

Liability In Accidents Involving Brake Failures

Drivers of commercial vehicles like vans or school buses have a duty of care to drive in a reasonably safe manner and to do everything in their power to avoid accidents. This is also true of the service providers that perform maintenance on these vehicles. For any accident involving a brake failure on a commercial vehicle like a van there may be multiple areas of potential negligence:

  1. Product Liability Claims: When a brake failure is caused by some type of mechanical defect with the brakes themselves the designer or manufacturer of the brakes may be responsible. Products are considered defective under three broad categories. Design defects occur when a product is inherently unsafe from the beginning. Manufacturing defects occur when a products assembly leads it to be unsafe. Marketing defects may occur when products are not properly labeled.

  2. Vicarious Liability Claims: Companies and school districts that hire drivers are responsible for the conduct of those drivers. Employers are responsible for the negligence of their employees insofar as those workers are operating within the course and scope of their duties. If the driver of a van acts negligently and causes an accident their employer may be liable. How a driver responds before and after a brake failure may very well be negligent. First, there are often signs that brakes may be failing which can be recognized. Second, there are steps that should be taken after a brake failure such as applying the emergency brakes.

  3. Negligent Maintenance: Regular maintenance should be done on vehicles in order to prevent catastrophic brake failures. If a vehicle service provider does a poor job on the brakes and this leads to an accident they may face civil liability.

  4. Municipal Negligence Claims: On certain occasions, a city may even be responsible for a brake failure accident if  a dangerous condition on the roadway contributed to the accident. In Johnson, Allen and Cascio v. City of Beverly Hills, an LAPD detective was killed when a cement truck lost its brakes on Loma Vista Drive in Beverly Hills. The plaintiffs attorneys successfully argued that the unusually steep nature of Loma Vista Drive made it a hazard and that the city did nothing to correct this.

Victims of brake failure accidents can be left with traumatic injuries and be overwhelmed about where to begin. An experienced car accident attorney can take steps to preserve your rights and make sure that you are compensated fairly after an accident.  

Getting Help After A Car Accident

We at West Coast Trial Lawyers extend our thoughts and prayers to all of the victims of this horrific accident in Dana Point. There needs to be a thorough investigation into what happened. The hill where the brake failure took place is reportedly one of the steepest in Orange County. This should be a wake up call for city officials. Something needs to be done before a similar accident takes place.

If you or someone that you love has been injured in an accident involving a brake failure you may have legal recourse. Our team of highly experienced personal injury attorneys will fight hard to get you the justice that you deserve after an accident. We are proud to have recovered over 1 billion dollars for our clients. More than anything else, our goal is to make sure that our clients needs are being taken care of and that those responsible are held accountable for their actions. Call us today for a risk free consultation about your case (888) 888-9285.   


  1. ABC 7. Dana Point vehicle collision leaves 9 children hurt, including 5 with traumatic injuries. October 3, 2018

  2. CBS Los Angeles. 5 Children Injured In Dana Point Van Crash. October 3, 2018

  3. AllLaw. Employer Liability in Car Accident Cases. 2018

  4. Auto Medics. Causes of Brake Failures. February 9, 2015.

  5. Fox 11 Staff. Beverly Hills pays $32.5 million to settle lawsuit over officer’s death. May 9, 2017.

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