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Eric T. Chaffin
Eric T. Chaffin
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The Unique Factors Involved in a Rollover Crash

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The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) states that rollover accidents have higher fatality rates than other types of crashes. In 2010, of the nearly 9.1 million passenger car, SUV, pickup and van crashes, only 2.1 percent involved a rollover—yet rollovers accounted for nearly 35 percent of all deaths from passenger vehicle crashes. In 2010 alone, more than 7,600 people died in rollover crashes.

Because of the seriousness of these accidents, victims often seek the assistance of a rollover accident attorney to help them recover damages.

What Causes a Rollover Accident?

A number of factors can come into play in a rollover accident, including the characteristics of the road, the vehicle, environmental factors, and the behavior of the drivers involved. Though all types of vehicles can roll over, taller, narrower vehicles like pickups, vans, and SUVs have higher centers of gravity, so are more prone to rolling over, particularly at higher speeds and when making sharp turns. The NHTSA states that more than 40 percent of fatal rollover crashes involved excessive speeding—nearly 75 percent of those in a place where the posted speed limit was 55 miles per hour or higher.

Alcohol and other driver impairments are also common causes of rollover accidents—nearly half of all crashes involve alcohol. Rural roads, driver distraction, and inattentiveness can play a part in a fatal crash, as well.

Tripped Rollovers

Data collected by the NHTSA shows that 95 percent of single-vehicle rollovers are tripped. This means an external object, such as a curb or a collision with another vehicle, acts on the vehicle and causes the rollover. Untripped rollovers occur when other forces destabilize the vehicle, such as when cornering too fast.

A tripped rollover may occur if the tires strike a curb, dig into soft ground, or come into contact with a steep slope, guardrail, or other vehicle. Untripped rollovers are less common, and often occur when drivers are swerving trying to avoid a collision.

Determining Liability in a Rollover Accident

There are more SUVs, vans, and pickup trucks on the road today than ever before, exposing more people to the risk of a fatal crash. New technology like electronic stability control helps drivers to maintain control during abrupt maneuvers on slippery roads, and is now available on all SUVs sold in the U.S. Such technology can help reduce public risk, but the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety notes that some models still need improvement when it comes to protecting people. In addition, there are still a lot of the older, less safe models on the road.

Injuries that often result from rollover accidents include head, back, and neck injuries, broken bones, skull fractures, spinal cord injuries and paralysis, internal injuries, lacerations, and rib and torso injuries. If the vehicle flips and catches fire, it can lead to burn injuries.

When determining liability, a rollover accident attorney will help determine what happened. Passengers in a crashed vehicle may be able to recover damages from the driver. If a victim was hit when another vehicle rolled over, he may be able to recover expenses from the other driver, or from the company the driver was working for. If the vehicle suffered a malfunction or lacked adequate safety designs, the manufacturer may be liable.

Because of their serious and often severe nature, injuries from rollover accidents can be extremely costly. A successful personal injury lawsuit can be helpful in allowing victims to reclaim their lives.