According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), rollover accidents “have a higher fatality rate than other kinds of crashes.” In 2010, out of nearly 9.1 million vehicle crashes (involving cars, pickups, SUVs, and vans), only 2.1 percent involved a rollover. But, those accidents caused nearly 35 percent of all deaths in passenger vehicle crashes. That same year, more than 7,600 people were killed in rollover accidents. The Ohio Department of Public Safety adds that in 2012, a total of 7,741 crashes in the state involved a rollover, causing 171 deaths and over 5,000 injuries. Sport utility vehicles (SUVs), which were the most likely vehicles to rollover only a few years ago, are now safer than they used to be, thanks to more stable designs and electronic stability control. According to a 2011 report from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, drivers in a 2009 or later model SUV are less likely to die in a rollover accident than drivers of a similar year model passenger cars. Rollover accidents still occur more frequently than they should, however, and they can cause serious and debilitating injuries. For victims of these vehicle crashes, recovering damages is necessary to manage medical costs, therapeutic treatments, lost wages, and more. The personal injury lawyers at Chaffin Luhana understand the unique factors involved in rollover accidents, and can help hold negligent parties responsible.
What Causes a Rollover Accident?Even newer vehicles can be in a rollover accident if the conditions are right. Below are a number of factors that may cause a vehicle to tip:
- Driver going too fast: Speed is often a factor in a rollover accident, particularly if the driver is going around a corner too quickly.
- High center of gravity: This is why so many SUVs used to rollover. Older models are still more likely to tip for this reason.
- Road conditions: For a rollover to happen, the vehicle usually has to “trip” on something, such as a pothole, a curb, a shoulder, etc. When the wheel strikes such an obstacle, it causes the vehicle to tip up slightly, increasing risk of a rollover. A trip combined with high-speed increases risk even more.
- Tire grip: Though it’s typically considered to be a good thing if tires grip the road, if you want to avoid a rollover, too much grip can be a bad thing. Rather than allow the vehicle to slide a bit, such tires grip it to the road, increasing risk of rollover. Defective tires that malfunction can also cause rollovers.
- Tractor-trailer rollovers: Vehicles carrying trailers that are improperly loaded, or that are driven at inappropriate speeds, are at risk of rolling over.
Types of Injuries from Rollover AccidentsRollover accidents can cause various types of injuries, including:
- Ejection from the vehicle (particularly if not wearing a seat belt)
- Trauma to the head and neck
- Limb amputation
- Broken bones
- Brain injury
- Spinal injury
- Internal organ damage
Who Is Liable in a Rollover Lawsuit?The following parties may be liable in this type of accident:
- The vehicle manufacturer: Though the design of SUVs has improved, individuals driving older model vehicles may still be able to hold the manufacturer liable for design flaws. If certain parts of the vehicle did not work correctly—say the rollover bar failed to hold up, for example—the manufacturer may still be held liable.
- Other manufacturers: If the airbags failed to properly deploy, the seatbelt didn’t hold, the tires exploded, or other similar events occurred, the plaintiff can file claims against the companies who manufactured these other vehicle components.
- Other drivers: If the accident involved other drivers—in other words, if the victim had to swerve because of a drunk or negligent driver—that other driver may be held liable.
- Mechanics and repair shops: If a faulty repair was completed on the vehicle before the accident, the repair shop may be held liable.
- The government: Sometimes the government fails to keep up with proper road maintenance. In these cases, they may be held liable for allowing dangerous conditions to exist. The government may also be held liable for poor road design that contributed to the accident.