There are few car accidents that are more deadly and destructive than rollover collisions. In fact, every year, more than 10,000 people are fatally injured in this type of crash, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Those who survive the crash often suffer a range of serious injuries.
The type and severity of an injury from a rollover accident depends on a number of factors, including the type of vehicle, the speed at which the car was traveling, and the position of the vehicle when it lands. In most cases, rollover accidents involve a single vehicle that loses control due to slick road conditions, uneven ground, striking the curb or guardrail after the vehicle loses traction or hitting an obstacle.
When a car, SUV, or truck is involved in a rollover accident, seat belts and airbags may help prevent devastating fatalities, but it is unlikely that the vehicle occupants will walk away without a scratch. Injuries caused by rollover accidents can range in severity from cuts and lacerations to traumatic brain injuries (TBIs). In extreme cases, rollover accidents can cause devastating fatalities. The following are examples of some of the most common injuries that rollover accidents can cause:
- Broken bones: The impact of a rollover accident can cause crushed or broken bones, particularly in the arms, legs, ankles, and ribs.
- Cuts, bruises and soft tissue injuries: Severe cuts can cause blood loss, nerve damage and loss of limbs if the cut is extremely deep. Rollover accidents can also cause pulled muscles and tendons and torn ligaments.
- Head and neck injuries: Rollover accidents can cause skull fractures, whiplash, concussions, and herniated or compressed spinal discs. In extreme cases, the person may suffer a TBI that can cause permanent impairments.
- Spinal cord injuries: The force of impact from a rollover accident can cause permanent damage to the spinal cord. Depending on the severity of the injury and the location of the spine that was impacted, the accident can cause paralysis, including paraplegia or quadriplegia, as well as nerve damage, chronic pain, and other debilitating back injuries.
- Internal injuries: The occupants of the vehicle can suffer organ damage from the force of the impact if they are struck by broken automotive components or ejected from the vehicle.
What Are the Common Causes of Rollover Accidents?
A rollover accident occurs when a vehicle tips over onto its side or rolls over completely. If the vehicle is traveling at a high speed when the accident occurs, it may roll over multiple times before it stops. According to the NHTSA, while rollover accidents represent only about two percent of all traffic accidents in the United States, they account for close to 35 percent of all traffic-related fatalities. There are two types of rollover accidents, including the following:
- Tripped rollovers: These account for the vast majority of single-vehicle rollover accidents. They occur when something like soft soil, a curb, a median or a guardrail trips the vehicle, causing it to roll over.
- Untripped rollovers: Only about five percent of rollover accidents are untripped, which occurs when a top-heavy vehicle is traveling at a high speed and suddenly swerves to avoid hitting another vehicle that turned onto the roadway without waiting for a sufficient opening in the flow of traffic.
SUVs and pickup trucks are more susceptible to rollover accidents for a number of reasons, including the fact that they have a higher center of gravity, which means they are more likely to tip over when making sharp turns or during extremely windy conditions. In addition, if an SUV or pickup truck is carrying cargo, the driver can lose control of the vehicle if there is a redistribution of weight caused by a shift in cargo.
While it is a common assumption that rollover accidents are caused by motorists who are driving too fast when they approach a sharp curve in the road. However, the majority of rollover accidents are caused by the following conditions:
- Potholes: Cold weather conditions can cause major potholes, and when highway departments and maintenance workers fail to repair them in a timely fashion, motorists are at an increased risk for rollover accidents.
- Eroding road shoulders: Motorists often use the shoulder when they are getting ready to exit their lane or for safety reasons. If the shoulder has dips or depressions, it can cause a rollover accident.
- Defective tires: If a faulty, or poorly installed tire causes a blowout, the motorist may lose control of the vehicle, causing a rollover accident.
Who Is Liable for a Rollover Accident?
In most cases, rollover accidents are caused by motorists who are drowsy, distracted, speeding, or driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. If you suffer a serious injury in a rollover accident that was caused by another person’s negligence, you may seek financial compensation by filing a personal injury lawsuit against the other driver.
Rollover accidents may also be caused by a defective design or a defective part in which case you may be able to file a products liability lawsuit against the company responsible for the defect.
Dangerous road conditions like sharp curves or unsafe speed limits can also increase the risk for rollover accidents. An experienced car accident lawyer can assist you with the claims process.
What Steps Should I Take After a Rollover Accident?
The first step you should take after a rollover accident is to call 911 to report the accident and notify dispatch of any injuries so that they can send emergency medical technicians to the scene. Even if your injuries do not seem serious, it is important that you seek immediate medical attention. Some injuries may not seem obvious rights away, including head injuries and certain internal injuries. It is imperative that a health care provider conducts a thorough examination so any underlying injuries can be diagnosed and treated.
If you are physically able to do so, take pictures of the accident scene, including the damage to your vehicle, your injuries, debris in the road, and the location of the accident. Exchange information with the other driver, and if there were witnesses, ask if they would be willing to provide a statement. It is highly recommended that you consult with a skilled car accident who can protect your legal rights.
How Can I Prevent a Rollover Accident?
While you cannot prevent the way another person drives, or the way the vehicles are designed and manufactured, you can take proactive steps to make safety a priority and avoid a devastating rollover accident. The following safety tips can help you protect yourself from a rollover accident:
- Make sure your vehicle has electronic stability control (ESC). Most newer vehicles are equipped with this technology, which corrects traction loss by applying the brakes during potentially dangerous driving situations.
- Understand your vehicle’s limitations. Make sure that you review your car’s specifications, including how much weight it can safely carry, and stay within those limits.
- Distribute loads evenly. When hauling cargo, make sure that it is properly loaded and secured so that it does not shift, causing an uneven weight distribution, which increases the risk of a rollover accident.
- Maintain the vehicle’s tires. There is an increased risk of rollover accidents when the vehicle’s tires are worn or underinflated. Make sure that the proper tire pressure is maintained and rotate the tires according to the manufacturer’s recommendations.
- Slow down when approaching a curve. It is particularly important to slow down if you are driving an SUV, a truck, or any other type of vehicle that has a higher center of gravity and is more susceptible to rollovers.
- Wear your seat belt. If you are involved in a rollover accident and you are not wearing a seat belt, you are at risk of being ejected from the vehicle, which can cause severe and often fatal injuries. According to the NHTSA, close to half of all people who were fatally injured in car accidents in 2019 were not wearing their seat belts at the time of the accident. Seat belts reduce the risk of death by nearly 45 percent.
Virginia Beach Car Accident Lawyers at Anchor Legal Group, PLLC Represent People Who Have Been Injured in Rollover Car Accidents
If you have been severely injured in a rollover collision, our Virginia Beach car accident lawyers at Anchor Legal Group, PLLC will work closely with you to determine who is responsible for the accident. We will walk you through every step of the claims process and address all of your questions and concerns. To schedule a free consultation, call us at 757-LAW-0000 or contact us online. Located in Virginia Beach, we serve clients throughout Chesapeake, Norfolk, Suffolk, Portsmouth, Newport News, Hampton, and Eastern Shore, Virginia. We also serve our clients throughout the United States through our network of associated attorneys.