Vehicle rollover crashes are extremely complex accidents that can be violent and damaging. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), while they account for only about 1 percent of all crashes, rollovers account for about a third of passenger vehicle occupant deaths, and often leave victims with life-changing injuries and losses.
The type of vehicle involved plays an important role in a rollover accident; other factors are the behavior of the motorist and environmental conditions. If you have been injured in a vehicle rollover due to another driver’s negligence, a defective roadway or an auto defect, the experienced vehicle rollover attorneys at TorkLaw can help you better understand your legal rights and options.
If you have been involved in a rollover accident, the first thing to do is to determine whether you or others have suffered any injuries. If you are unable to move or are trapped in the vehicle, remain where you are until help arrives. If emergency personnel offer treatment at the scene, definitely accept it. It is best to go to an emergency room right away, even though you may feel you don’t need it. After a traumatic event, pain can be temporarily masked by shock and adrenaline, so it is best to get medical attention, care and treatment as soon as possible.
Be sure to file a police report. Give them your account of what occurred. Try to recollect details the best you can. If you cannot remember something, tell the officer you can’t remember or don’t know. Don’t guess or provide inaccurate information.
It is important to collect as much evidence from the scene as possible. If you are hurt, however, make receiving medical care your priority. Ask a family member or friend if they can arrive at the accident scene and collect crucial information such as insurance details from other parties involved, photos and videos from the scene, contact information for eyewitnesses, physical evidence, etc.
Preserve your vehicle in its current condition — it might be among the most important pieces of evidence in your crash. The crashworthiness of the vehicle, roof strength and any stability issues the vehicle might have had due to design flaws are factors that might play a part in causing a rollover accident. Don’t repair your vehicle until an accident reconstruction expert has had the opportunity to examine all evidence.
Contact an experienced rollover accident lawyer to help analyze all aspects of the incident, keep you abreast of the official investigation and help protect your rights every step of the way. A knowledgeable lawyer will be able to help ensure that critical evidence in the case is preserved and guide you through the claim process so you can receive maximum compensation for your losses.
A majority of rollovers occur when a driver loses control of a vehicle and it starts to slide sideways. When this happens, an object such as a curb, guardrail, or tree stump could trip the vehicle and cause it to roll over. Rollovers could also happen when a driver tries to turn a vehicle too aggressively, or at too high a speed. In such conditions, the frictional force between the tires and the road can cause the vehicle to tip and then roll over.
In addition, the forces in a multi-vehicle crash, such as a chain reaction collision could also cause a vehicle to roll over. For example, a vehicle that is broadsided may be pushed over by the striking vehicle. However, roughly 75 percent of rollover fatalities occur in single-vehicle crashes. More than 50 percent of vehicle occupants killed in single-vehicle crashes are involved in rollovers.
There are a number of situations that may cause these events; understanding these might help prevent these tragic and devastating incidents:
Tire defects: A defective or worn-out tire may cause a rollover due to a condition known as tire tread separation. Blown tires or tread separation can happen very quickly when the vehicle is in motion, and cause a driver to lose control.
Tread or belt separation occur most often with older tires. When tires exceed their shelf life (typically six years), the rubber dries out, leading to cracks, so it is important to check your treads frequently, and replace your tires as soon as they show such wear. If you buy used tires, make sure that are not more than four years old. However, it is not just old tires that fail — defectively manufactured tires may also blow out or separate.
Excessive speed: High speed or unsafe speed is one of the main causes of rollover crashes. The faster a vehicle is traveling at the time of a crash, the more likely it is that the vehicle will roll over on impact with another car or an object, such as a post or tree. It is important to stay within the speed limit or drive at a speed that is appropriate for traffic, roadway and weather conditions.
Driving under the influence: Driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs is a factor in at least half of all rollover collisions.
Poor vehicle design: When a vehicle is designed with a high center of gravity, greater ground clearance and narrower track width, this means their mass is distributed higher off the road relative to the vehicle’s width. it has a higher propensity to roll over. When there is more cargo in the vehicle, this further increases its center of gravity, heightening the risk of a rollover. This is primarily why a number of models of SUVs and pickup trucks are more prone to rolling over than smaller passenger vehicles. In 2016, 47 percent of SUV occupant deaths were caused by vehicle rollover accidents, and 43 percent of fatalities involved pickup trucks. Only 22 percent of deaths in cars were in rollovers.
Occupants of vehicles involved in rollover crashes are likely to suffer catastrophic or even fatal injuries. Here are some of the most common injuries suffered in rollover crashes.
In any car accident, investigating the cause of the accident is extremely important. In a rollover accident, especially, there are a number of factors that must be closely examined in order to determine how and why the accident occurred. For example, in a number of single-vehicle rollovers that result in catastrophic injuries or deaths, vehicle occupants tend to be partially or fully ejected.
Law enforcement agencies such as local police departments or the California Highway Patrol often don’t have the resources to examine every aspect of the crash. For example, when a person is ejected in a rollover crash, many investigators tend to assume that the person was not wearing a seatbelt. And, while 67 percent of those killed in passenger vehicle rollover crashes in 2016 were unbelted, 33 percent of the time, the victim was ejected despite wearing a seatbelt.
Liability in such cases depends on what caused the accident and the devastating injuries. For example, if the seatbelt failed and the occupant was ejected and killed, the victim’s family may be able to file a wrongful death lawsuit against the automaker and the manufacturer of the seatbelt restraint system. It is also important to look into whether the airbags in the vehicle deployed correctly during the rollover collision. In many cases where airbags don’t deploy properly, victims suffer blunt force trauma injuries, which can be fatal. This is one of the most important reasons the vehicle should be preserved for a detailed examination.
A number of rollover crashes also occur at street intersections. In such cases where reckless or impaired driving may have caused the crash, the other driver can be held liable for the accident. In cases where a dangerous or defective roadway caused the accident, the governmental agency responsible for maintaining the roadway can also be held accountable. In such cases, a claim must be filed within six months of the incident.
The value of your rollover accident case will depend on the nature and extent of your injuries and damages. Victims of rollover accidents may be able to seek compensation for damages including:
The experienced vehicle rollover attorneys at TorkLaw have significant experience in investigating these types of cases and helping injured victims secure maximum compensation for their injuries, damages and losses. Please call us at (888) 845-9696 for a free consultation and comprehensive case evaluation.