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Rollover Accidents Turn Deadly Fast
Rollover accidents are among the most deadly vehicle accidents.
A rollover occurs when a vehicle, often an SUV, turns over onto its
roof or side. All cars can rollover, but automobiles with high centers
of gravity, such as SUVs and pickups, are particularly susceptible to
It is important to act quickly in obtaining an experienced attorney following a rollover accident, so that critical evidence can be secured and an investigation is started as soon as possible. Rollover accident cases are among the most demanding and expensive cases to fight. Your attorney should be experienced with rollover cases and have the financial resources to retain experts and investigators and prepare a thorough case.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA)
released a report in March 2007 showing the true deadly nature of SUV
and other single vehicle rollover accidents. According to that report,
in 2004, the latest year for which data is complete, 2.7% of occupants in rollover accidents were killed, while only .2% of the occupants in vehicles that crashed, without rolling over, were
killed. While less than 3% of all vehicles involved in crashes rolled
over, 33% of all deaths occurring as a result
of these crashes were in rollover accidents. The rate of occupants
suffering fatalities or incapacitating injuries in a rollover accident was a substantial 11% in passenger cars, pickups and SUVs, and 8% in vans.
Rollovers are much more likely to occur in sports utility
vehicles (SUV’s) than in any other type of vehicle. According to the
NHTSA’s 2007 report, in 2004, of vehicles involved in a single vehicle
crash 23% of SUV’s rolled over, 17% of pickups rolled over and 10% of
passenger cars rolled over. The bottom line is that SUV rollovers were
2.3 times more likely to occur in a single vehicle crash than passenger
cars. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, 60% of
the people who died in SUV accidents in 2005 were in SUV rollover
Certain models of SUVs are substantially more prone to rollover accidents than are others. The Ford Explorer has the highest risk of rollover accidents according to an NHTSA test. Other models with a significant history of rollover accidents include the Jeep CJ, the Jeep Wrangler and the Jeep Cherokee.
Additional Passengers Increase the Likelihood of Rollovers, Especially in Fully Loaded 15-Passenger Vans
Additional passengers in vehicles with a high center of gravity mean an increased risk of a rollover accident; there is more weight at an already high center of mass. According to the NHTSA, a loaded fifteen-passenger van has a dramatically increased risk of rollover. Fully loaded fifteen-passenger vans have less resistance to rollover and are more difficult to control in emergency situations than other vehicles.Read more on 15-passenger van rollover accidents.
Common injuries occurring in rollovers include:
The injuries caused by rollover accidents can have a devastating financial impact. The losses for which a victim might receive compensation include loss of past and future wages, medical and hospital bills and actual expenses related to the rollover accident. A victim may also recover current and future pain, disfigurement, disability, diminished enjoyment of life, the body’s decreased ability to fight off infections and illness, and a decreased life expectancy.
If you or a loved one has been involved in a vehicle rollover, time is of the essence. It is critical that you contact an accident attorney experienced in all aspects of large and complex auto accident case management. Preserving the evidence in a rollover accident is necessary for pursuing products liability cases, as well as government entity claims for road design defects and dangerous conditions, which are common causes of these accidents. The following tasks often need to be performed without delay:
Many factors make rollover cases difficult and
expensive to litigate. Choosing the right attorney can make a critical
difference in the outcome of a rollover accident claim. Often more
than one party bears responsibility for causing the rollover accident
or increasing the injuries. Therefore, rollover accident cases can
involve multiple defendants. Careful investigation by your attorney
and retained experts is necessary to identify all the potential
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Rollover accidents are normally single car accidents. In fact, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, 75% of all rollovers occur in single car accidents. This type of rollover accident often occurs after a driver has lost traction and begins to slide sideways, such as in snow or icy conditions. While sliding, the automobile might “trip” and begin a rollover. Common factors that cause SUV’s and other vehicles to “trip” and rollover on are soft-road shoulders, uneven ground, or roadside objects such as a curb or guardrail. According to the NHTSA, about 95% of rollovers are “tripped.” A central contested issue in the litigation of these rollover accident cases is whether the vehicle design made it more likely that the vehicle would tip over instead of continuing its slide.
Products Liability: Determining Fault for Injuries Caused by Defective Products in Rollover Accidents
Manufacturers of vehicles and their parts as well as others in the distribution chain, including wholesalers and dealers, are responsible for ensuring that passenger cars, pick-ups, vans and SUVs and their component parts are safe and do not pose an unreasonable risk of harm to the public. Injuries in a rollover accident that result from the defective manufacture of a car or SUV, or their parts, can subject the manufacturer to damages under the area of law known as products liability. A court might find a defendant in a rollover accident liable under any of three product liability theories: negligence, breach of warranty or strict liability.
Tread separation and road hazards are a leading cause of SUV and other vehicle rollovers. In defective tire cases, both the automobile and tire manufacturer may be held strictly liable for defectively designed or manufactured tires.
Driving at higher speeds increases the likelihood of vehicle rollover accidents. This includes driving at excessive speeds, but also driving on the highway at the posted speed limit. The probability of rollover accidents increases dramatically at higher speeds. In 2004, according to the NHTSA report, the probability of a rollover accident involving a single vehicle was:
In most states, even when a driver is partially at fault for an accident, the manufacturers of the vehicle or its defective parts, dealerships, retailers, government agencies, or other third parties who bear some fault can be held liable to the extent of their percentage of culpability, for driver or passenger injuries. Therefore, the fact that a driver may be found to bear fault should not discourage a potential claimant from consulting an accident attorney on a rollover accident case. If you have been involved in such an accident, you should contact a reputable and experienced accident attorney without delay.
Also although a driver may bear fault in a rollover accident, that driver may be entitled to pursue a action against the manufacturers of defective cars, SUVs and/or their parts. Consumers have a reasonable expectation that the vehicles they drive will keep them reasonably safe from severe injuries in the event of a rollover accident. In many cases, for example, vehicles which were built with defective roofs have resulted in catastrophic injuries which could have been prevented with safer designs.
There are many components of a vehicle that can
fail to perform adequately in rollover accidents, leading to injuries
or increasing the severity of injuries. Some of these include roof crush, faulty door locks, restraining systems such as seat belts and defective airbags, poor interior padding and side windows that are not made of tempered glass. Roof crush is a major cause of serious and catastrophic injuries
in vehicle rollover accidents. Roof crush results when the roof
collapses because of structural weakness. A strong passenger
compartment is the best way to prevent severe injuries to the occupants
in a car or SUV. Unfortunately, many popular cars and SUVs have been
manufactured with roofs that are structurally deficient and as a
consequence they fail to prevent major injuries.
The Reeves Law Group has successfully represented thousands of accident victims and has obtained exceptional results in all types of serious and catastrophic injury cases. If you or a loved one has been injured in a rollover accident, we may be able to help you receive compensation for your losses. Call us or email us for a free consultation.