What Do I Do After a Rollover Accident in San Diego?
San Diego has one of the most fully developed freeway systems in California, with six north-south freeway routes along the Interstate 8 corridor and six east-west freeways on the Interstate 5 corridor. Despite this, drivers in San Diego can expect to waste up to 56 hours a year sitting in traffic congestion resulting from commuters to employment centers in Mission Valley, Sorrento Valley, Otay Mesa, the Golden Triangle, and Downtown, as well as accidents along the city’s freeways.
One of the most serious types of motor vehicle accidents that occur in San Diego is a rollover. Individuals injured in rollover vehicle accidents can seek compensation for the extraordinary costs and negative impact on quality-of-life the accident caused. If you were injured in a rollover, and someone else’s careless or reckless actions caused the accident, let an experienced San Diego rollover accident lawyer help you make sense of the legal process involved with seeking compensation.
What Is a Rollover Accident?
Rollovers are extremely dangerous accidents in which the vehicle tips onto its side, then onto its roof, or even rolls completely over one or more times. While rollover accidents only account for about three percent of all traffic accidents, they account for about 30 percent of fatal accidents involving passenger vehicles. Any vehicle can roll over in certain circumstances. However, tall and narrow vehicles are more prone to rolling over, particularly when going around curves or corners at speed.
The Two Types of Rollover Accidents
Rollovers are a common type of single-car accident that often occurs if the driver has been improperly trained, is drinking, is speeding or falls asleep. However, for all these reasons and many others, rollovers can also result from multi-vehicle collisions.
There are two main types of rollover accidents:
Tripped rollovers: This type of rollover occurs when the vehicle’s tires strike something that “trips” the vehicle and causes it to overturn. The vast majority of rollovers are tripped, and some of the most common causes of the trip are medians, guardrails, curbs, and other vehicles during a high-speed collision.
Untripped rollovers: About five percent of rollover accidents are untripped, meaning the accident was not the result of a tire striking an obstacle and causing the vehicle to roll. Instead, untripped rollovers generally occur when a top-heavy vehicle attempts to take a curve or corner at speed.
Why Do San Diego Rollover Accidents Occur?
Many actions can cause a motor vehicle accident.
However, most rollover accidents result from a few careless or reckless driving behaviors such as:
Speeding. More than a quarter of all traffic fatalities in the U.S. result from speeding, which refers to driving faster than the posted limit or faster than roadway conditions allow. Speeding reduces the driver’s control of the vehicle and increases crash severity. It is not at all uncommon for a high-speed collision to result in a tripped rollover.
Impairment by drugs and alcohol. Impairment reduces a driver’s ability to operate his or her vehicle safely, and impacts driving skills such as surveillance, signal detection, the ability to brake effectively or to maintain a safe speed, the ability to maintain a single lane of travel, and the ability to exercise good judgment and respond appropriately in emergency driving situations.
Fatigued driving. Similar to alcohol or drug impairment, driver fatigue degrades driving skills. One of the largest rollover risks faced by fatigued drivers is the risk of falling asleep or being inattentive to the roadway and running off the road. Obstacles on the roadside can then cause the trip that makes the vehicle roll over.
Improperly loaded or overloaded vehicles. One of the main causes of untripped accidents is an improperly loaded, top-heavy vehicle. This can cause the car to tip to the heavy side when negotiating a sharp curve or corner. A weight imbalance can also cause the car to lean in a way that deforms the sidewall. This can cause the wheel rim to strike the pavement and tip up, which causes a tripped rollover.
Lack of maintenance. Drivers who fail to maintain their vehicles create a risk of an accident resulting from a vehicle part wearing out. One of the most common worn parts to result in a rollover accident is a blown tire. A tire blowout will usually cause the vehicle to become very difficult to control and a rollover can result from attempting emergency driving maneuvers attempting to correct this loss of control.
Defective parts. Manufacturers must ensure that the products they put in the marketplace do not pose unreasonable risks for consumers when used according to label instructions. Defective tires, brakes, or steering mechanisms can all result in a loss of vehicle control that can lead to a rollover.
Emergency driving maneuvers. Sometimes, when a driver swerves in an attempt to avoid a collision with another vehicle, a pedestrian, or other obstacle, the car will roll over. This is more common with higher-profile vehicles, such as trucks, vans, and SUVs, and also happens more often if the driver is traveling at a higher rate of speed when attempting to swerve.
The Types of Injuries Resulting From San Diego Rollovers
Rollovers are violent collisions in which drivers who are not wearing their seatbelt face a high risk of ejection and those who are wearing their seatbelt face the dangers of being struck by objects inside the car, broken glass, or metal. In recent years, side airbags in certain new vehicles protect belted passengers from broken glass from the side windows. They also keep unbelted passengers inside vehicles. Nearly half of the individuals who die in rollover accidents are ejected from the vehicle.
Some of the most serious injuries that a person can suffer involve the organs that make up the body’s central nervous system: the brain and the spinal cord. The body relies on the brain to control both involuntary responses such as breathing, heart rate, and the sleep/wake cycle, as well as voluntary responses such as walking, recalling events, or speaking. The spinal cord is the messaging system that the brain uses to communicate these responses to other parts of the body. Both the brain and the spinal cord only have a limited ability to heal from injury. These injuries commonly result in permanent deficits that impact the individual’s ability to earn an income or to complete personal tasks independently.
In addition to brain and spinal cord injuries, other injuries that commonly result from San Diego rollovers include:
Severe cuts and lacerations that can cause permanent scarring or disfigurement and carry a risk of infection.
Broken bones, which can cause loss of mobility and chronic pain.
Damage to the spinal vertebrae and discs, which often requires surgery and can also limit an individual’s mobility and cause ongoing pain.
Amputated limbs from traumatic crush injuries.
Internal injuries, which can cause life-threatening complications, including blood loss.
Seeking Compensation After a San Diego Rollover Accident
In California, individuals injured in rollovers can seek compensation through the civil court system. You have two years to file this legal claim. A personal injury lawsuit seeks to prove who was liable (legally responsible) for the accident that caused your injuries, and recover the monetary damages for the expenses and injuries you incurred.
To try to prove liability in a San Diego rollover lawsuit, you must show the following elements:
The at-fault party owed you a duty of care, meaning the actions that a reasonable person would take in a given set of circumstances to prevent harm to others.
There was a breach in the duty of care, meaning the at-fault party failed to act as a reasonable person would in similar circumstances to prevent harm to others.
The breach resulted in a rollover accident, which injured you and caused you to incur associated expenses and impacts.
The phrase “recovering damages” refers to the at-fault party paying compensation to the party they harmed. Economic damages involve a payment made in compensation for the expenses of your injury, while non-economic damages refer to a payment made in compensation for the negative impact your injuries have on your quality of life.
San Diego rollovers commonly include these expenses and impacts:
Medical expenses, such as the cost of emergency treatment, ambulance transport, hospitalization, diagnostic testing, surgery, physician services, prescription medication, physical therapy and rehabilitation, and the provision of prosthetic limbs, wheelchairs, or crutches.
Wage loss resulting from being too injured to work.
Loss of future earning capacity, if your injury prevents you from earning what you did before the accident.
Property damage, such as the cost of repairing or replacing the vehicle you were driving when the accident occurred.
Physical pain and suffering.
Loss of the enjoyment of life, if your injury impairs your ability to participate in activities or events you previously enjoyed.
Loss of consortium, which is a damage collected by the injured person’s spouse for the loss of physical intimacy and companionship that often accompanies serious injuries.
How a Motor Vehicle Accident Attorney Can Help
A car or truck accident attorney can help to ensure your right to seek compensation for you through:
A no-cost, obligation-free case evaluation, which is time that you have with an attorney to obtain answers to your legal questions, gain further insight into the personal injury process, and learn more about the services that a law firm can provide.
Determining all sources of liability and all insurance resources that can provide compensation for you.
Establishing a value to your case that is based on the expenses and impacts you have already incurred, as well as those you will likely experience in the future.
Negotiations with the at-fault party’s insurance provider in an attempt to obtain a settlement offer on your behalf. Insurance compensates nearly all personal injury claims. While it is possible to file a claim against an uninsured party and even to obtain a judgment in your favor, it would likely be very difficult to collect on that judgment, as most uninsured parties do not have the money to compensate for injury expenses and impacts.
The timely filing of your court-required paperwork, and attendance at all pre-trial conferences and hearings on your behalf.
The collection of evidence and witness testimony that can be used to prove your claim.
Guidance as to the pros and cons of accepting or rejecting an offered settlement.
Litigating your case if it proceeds to trial, which includes making opening and closing arguments, presenting evidence, and examining witnesses.
Assistance collecting your settlement or award.
A client-friendly contingent-fee payment scheme that allows you to withhold payment for your attorney’s services until there has been a successful outcome to your case.
Let an attorney put their experience to work for you in your pursuit of compensation for the injuries you incurred in a San Diego rollover accident. For a free case evaluation, contact a truck accident lawyer today.