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Learn the risks associated with rollovers, and you will want to understand why rollovers occur, what can be done to prevent them, and the most common injuries suffered in rollover accidents. If you have already been involved in a serious rollover vehicle accident then don’t hesitate to contact the car accident attorneys at Gomez Trial Attorneys to discuss your legal options.
A rollover accident is exactly what it sounds like: some action or force causes the vehicle to physically roll. It could fall onto its side or flip onto its roof. Depending on the speed at which the car was traveling and the force of the impact that caused the rollover, the vehicle might even continue to roll, flipping more than once. There are two main types of rollover accidents: tipped and untipped.
If you are driving down the highway and spot a rollover accident, you can be sure of one thing: there were almost certainly injuries involved. While rollovers are not the most common type of vehicle accident, the likelihood of injuries or fatalities increases whenever a rollover occurs. In 2018, California saw 3,563 traffic fatalities, and 22 percent of these fatalities were the result of a rollover. Nationally, this percentage is closer to 30 percent.
When we think of vehicle accidents, it is most common for accidents involving two vehicles to come to mind. For many rollover accidents, however, there is no impact with a second vehicle, as single-vehicle accidents are the most common scenario for rollovers. In fact, 85 percent of fatal rollover accidents only involve one car. Rollover accidents are commonly caused by circumstances relating to the car, the environment (such as the road or weather), and driver action or inaction.
Factors that can contribute to the likelihood of a rollover accident include:
We cannot overstate importance of the first factor—the type of vehicle. Studies show that while rollover crashes only accounted for 22 percent of occupant deaths in cars, they accounted for 45 percent of occupant deaths in SUVs and 41 percent in pickups in 2017.
Interestingly, complicated or abnormal driving maneuvers are not a common contributing factor to the likelihood of experiencing a rollover accident. Drivers are more often performing a routine action, such as driving on a straight road. This indicates that driver behavior, such as inattentiveness or distraction, is a major contributing factor to these types of accidents.
While you cannot completely prevent rollover accidents, you can reduce the likelihood of their occurrence and also reduce the severity of resulting injuries by taking the following steps.
A little research and smart driving decisions can go a long way in reducing the likelihood of being involved in a rollover accident.
Prioritize advances in technology. If you are shopping for a new vehicle, make sure you understand crash test ratings. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) provide comprehensive assessments of how well vehicles protect occupants in a crash and whether they include technology that can prevent a crash or lessen its severity. As it relates to rollovers, these tests can inform you about:
The Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards found that electronic stability control can significantly reduce the likelihood of rollover accidents and made it a required feature, starting in 2011. Make sure you stay informed on the SUVs and trucks that are most prone to flipping according to the various safety ratings organizations.
The more consumers begin to demand these features that can reduce the chances of rollovers and associated injuries, the more they will become standard in vehicles.
Avoid alcohol consumption. While this may seem obvious, alcohol is continuously found to be a factor in causing rollover accidents. A study by the NHTSA found that alcohol plays a part in almost 50 percent of fatal rollover accidents. Interestingly, drivers of passenger cars, which are generally less prone to rolling, were more likely to have consumed alcohol if they were involved in a rollover accident. Continued state and federal efforts to reduce drinking and driving are helpful, but each person must take their safety into their own hands and make the smart decision not to drink and drive.
Don’t speed. Similarly to avoiding alcohol consumption, this may seem obvious. But small changes can have big effects. Up to 40 percent of rollover accidents are speed-related. Being mindful of your speed, especially in vehicles more prone to rollovers, will help reduce the likelihood of their occurrence.
Check your tires. Tire blowouts and other tire issues are common contributors to rollovers. Make sure that the tires on your vehicle are the correct size and design. Also, regularly check your tire pressure to avoid driving on underinflated tires.
Invest in infrastructure. Fatal rollovers are much more common on roads without barriers. Any community that sees somewhat frequent rollovers should consider adding barriers as an important part of its infrastructure development planning.
One of the most concerning aspects of rollovers is the high rate of fatalities. You can, however, reduce the chance of fatalities and injuries if a rollover occurs.
Wear your seatbelt. One of the reasons rollovers are so dangerous to passengers is because they present a high risk of ejection from the vehicle. The jarring movement of the vehicle accompanied by shattering or deformation of doors and windows increase the chances an occupant could be thrown from the car. Over 60 percent of rollover fatalities were individuals who were ejected from the vehicle.
The best way to reduce the risk of ejection is to wear a seatbelt. The NHTSA found that 72 percent of individuals who died in rollovers were not wearing a seatbelt. Additionally, its findings showed that only 4 percent of individuals wearing seatbelts were ejected, while 53 percent of individuals not wearing a restraint were ejected.
Support technology advancements. While consumers don’t control regulatory bodies or car manufacturers, they do have control over where their money goes. The more consumers opt for vehicles that incorporate the most recent, advanced safety technologies, the more quickly these technologies will be adopted as mainstream.
Support the adoption of federal regulations that require these important technologies in all vehicles. One example is ejection mitigation regulations, which are required for all 2018 and newer model year vehicles. This regulation requires enhancement to side curtain airbag systems to ensure deployment during rollovers, helping avoid ejection through a side window.
Rollover accidents are among the most dangerous accidents on the roads. It should come as no surprise, then, that the resulting injuries can be quite severe. While the list below is not exhaustive, it includes some of the more common injuries suffered by vehicle occupants as a result of a rollover:
With the high risk of ejection and the extreme force exerted on occupants of vehicles involved in a rollover, occupants can anticipate significant and long-term injuries that may require extensive medical attention. In addition to the above injuries to your body, your car will likely suffer significant damage, perhaps so significant that your insurer will declare the vehicle totaled. Given the likely extent of injuries and damage, it will be important to consider your path to recovery after the accident.
If you were in a rollover accident, you may wonder what steps to take next. The first and most important step is to ensure that you and any other vehicle occupants receive the proper medical attention. Even if you do not feel like you have sustained injuries, it is important to see a doctor as soon as possible, as adrenaline may mask pain in the hours after the crash. In addition to ensuring your safety, having immediate documentation of any injuries is important for insurance purposes.
After you have taken time to focus on your health, you will need to consider whether any other party was at fault for the rollover. If possible, make sure you secure a police report, contact information for any witnesses, and documentation of the site of the accident. This information could be very important in identifying any external factors involved in the accident at a later date.
Examples of situations where you may need to investigate another party’s obligations include those where:
Even if none of the above apply to your scenario, you should also consider whether your car responded appropriately during the crash. If your airbags failed to deploy or the vehicle was not equipped with the required technology, such as electronic stability control, these failures likely contributed to the severity of your injuries, and the manufacturer should take appropriate responsibility.
An attorney can help you analyze your situation and determine how to secure appropriate compensation if others are responsible. For example, the attorney may advise you to bring a lawsuit against the city or state if there were poor road conditions that caused or contributed to the rollover. If there was a mechanical failure, it will be necessary to seek redress from the vehicle manufacturer. If another negligent party was involved, an attorney can help you navigate dealing with their insurance company or bringing a lawsuit against them. If more than one of these situations is relevant, an attorney can help you manage all the different work streams involved in ensuring you are fairly compensated.
If you need additional assistance, contact a licensed car accident lawyer to help answer your questions.
John Gomez founded the firm alone in 2005. Today, John acts as President and Lead Trial Attorney. He has been voted by his peers as a top ten San Diego litigator in three separate fields: Personal Injury, Insurance and Corporate Litigation. Since 2000, he has recovered over $800 million in settlements and verdicts for his clients with more than 160 separate recoveries of one million dollars or more. A prolific trial lawyer, John has tried to jury verdict more than 60 separate cases.
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