Car rollover accidents often mean substantial injury to the vehicle’s occupants. Rollover collisions frequently involve significant force. Collisions often throw anything in a vehicle around, which can cause further bruising and lacerations.
Do you deserve compensation after a rollover collision? It may depend on what led to the accident and your injuries.
Common Causes of Car Rollover Accidents
Rollover accidents can happen for several reasons. With an estimated 30 percent of passenger vehicle fatalities occurring due to rollover accidents, understanding the potential causes of a rollover collision and avoiding them can prove essential for keeping drivers safe on the road.
#1. Top-Heavy Vehicles
Many vehicles, including SUVs, often have a top-heavy design that increases the odds of becoming involved in a rollover collision. Drivers of those vehicles often need more room to maneuver around tight curves and may have more problems controlling their vehicles in high winds or under potentially dangerous circumstances. Some top-heavy vehicles, however, may pose a greater danger than others. In some cases, design flaws may increase the risk of a rollover collision.
In the case of design flaws that increase the risk of an accident, liability for the accident or injuries sustained by the passengers in the vehicle may rest with the vehicle manufacturer.
#2. High Speeds
It takes considerable force to cause a rollover collision, particularly in a car that sits lower to the ground. At higher speeds, vehicles have more force behind them, which may substantially increase the risk of multiple accident types. In addition, high rates of speed may further raise the risk that a vehicle will have enough force behind it to roll in a collision.
Drivers may speed for a variety of reasons. Some love the thrill of speeding down twisting roads, even though they may know the dangers of those challenges. Others may speed because they think that speeding will help them get to their destinations faster, despite the potential increased risks and even the risk of traffic snarls. However, as speed increases, drivers face a much higher risk of rolling over after even a minor accident.
Drivers who choose to speed may bear liability for any collision caused by their actions, including collisions caused because others around them cannot accurately predict their responses and behavior patterns.
#3. Sharp Drops
Geographic features may substantially impact the risk of a rollover accident. Traveling down mountain roads or in areas with a sharp drop may mean a higher risk that drivers will allow the car’s tires to slide off the road, and a sharp angle may increase the odds that the car will roll over as a result of that moment’s inattention.
Further, sharp drops often come alongside sharp turns, making it more difficult for drivers to keep their vehicles on the road. Speeding through those areas can prove particularly catastrophic.
While sharp drops may contribute heavily to the risk of a rollover accident, drivers bear liability for navigating those areas safely. However, the local city government may bear liability in areas where it fails to properly maintain guardrails and other safety features designed to help decrease the risk of those dangerous accidents.
#4. Side Impact Collisions
Side impact collisions, especially those with a great deal of force behind them, can provide enough force to cause a car to roll over. Side-impact collisions may occur when merging onto a highway or interstate or when a vehicle enters an intersection without stopping and yielding the right of way.
In a side-impact collision, the liable driver’s vehicle may hit the other vehicle directly in the side, providing enough force to knock the vehicle off the road. If the roadside includes sloping terrain, it may further increase the risk of a rollover.
Driver inebriation can substantially increase the risk of many types of collisions and accidents. Often, drunk drivers take dangerous chances that raise their risk of an accident. Further, drivers may have a much harder time controlling their vehicles while under drugs and alcohol. Some drunk drivers suffer from tunnel vision, making it difficult to see the entire road or predict the twists and turns ahead of them.
An intoxicated driver bears liability for their decisions behind the wheel, including decisions that may lead to a rollover collision.
#6. Tire Defects
Vehicles with damaged tires have a higher risk of rolling, especially if a tire blowout happens abruptly. Large vehicles, including top-heavy SUVs, have a higher risk of rolling if the tire blows out unexpectedly. Losing more than one tire simultaneously may also increase the risk of a collision. Car owners bear a high duty of care for keeping their tires properly aired and under good repair. However, when a blowout occurs because of a manufacturer defect, the manufacturer may bear liability for the accident.
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Challenges Associated With Rollover Accidents
Rollover accidents cause some unique challenges for the victims involved in those accidents.
Rollover accidents may raise the risk of severe injury or death.
Rollover accidents often involve a great deal of force distributed over the entire vehicle. Everyone involved in a rollover collision usually faces that high degree of force.
Rollover accidents may cause a wide range of potential injuries, many of which can have life-threatening or long-term consequences for the victims.
- Whiplash, including long-term whiplash
- Back and neck injuries, which may linger for a long time after the accident without proper treatment
- Spinal cord injuries
- Head injuries, including traumatic brain injury and concussion
- Broken bones
- Severe lacerations from broken windshields or items flying around the vehicle during the accident
Any item not secured in the vehicle at the time of the accident usually goes flying in a rollover collision. Passengers not wearing a seatbelt may also suffer substantial injury. Furthermore, seatbelt errors can cause the seat belts to break under strain.
After a rollover collision, getting out of a vehicle may pose a significant injury risk. In some cases, victims may need to wait for help to arrive before getting out of the vehicle.
Rollover accidents usually result in substantial property damage.
In a rollover collision, the car’s entire surface usually takes severe damage. Modern vehicles have a cage that helps protect the vehicle’s occupants, preventing the vehicle from collapsing entirely. However, the vehicle’s structure may take considerable damage during the accident. Rollovers often lead to a totaled vehicle.
Vehicles that roll can end up in difficult-to-access locations.
Often, a rollover collision places a vehicle in a location where emergency responders may have a more challenging time getting to it and its passengers. The slowed response may delay needed medical care for the passengers in the vehicle. Furthermore, passengers who try to get out of their vehicles in dangerous areas may suffer additional injuries due to a lack of caution or difficult terrain.
What to Do After a Car Rollover Accident
After a rollover accident, you may have few or no options for moving your vehicle, especially if it lands on its side or top. However, you can take several steps to help keep yourself and any other passengers in the vehicle safer and improve your odds of later filing an injury claim to help you receive compensation for your injuries.
#1. Check for injury immediately.
Rollover collisions can cause serious lacerations and may leave a great deal of broken glass in the car, especially in cases where the windshield or windows shatter. Check for injury immediately. Stabilize yourself to the best of your ability, including bracing yourself against the vehicle floor if possible, and make sure that you do not have any immediate signs of serious injury.
If anyone in the vehicle shows signs of severe injury, particularly broken bones or head trauma, you may need to wait for assistance to arrive before moving them. Try to slow the flow of blood from any obvious lacerations.
#2. Call 911.
Calling 911 will summon both a police officer and medical attention to the accident scene. A 911 call can also summon needed help to safely get everyone out of the vehicle, including summoning the fire department to get into the vehicle. Let the dispatcher know your location, including that the car rolled in the accident and what position it landed in. If anyone suffered a serious injury, the dispatcher might talk you through providing some basic first aid while waiting for help to arrive.
#3. Assess your surroundings.
If you landed on the top or side of the vehicle after a rollover, you might want to exit the vehicle as soon as possible. Do not exit the vehicle if moving could worsen your injuries. You may also want to look at your surroundings and whether you can safely get out of the vehicle. Do not try to get out of the vehicle if you find yourself on unstable ground or if moving the vehicle could cause it to fall further.
Sometimes, getting out of a rolled vehicle may prove very difficult. The door may stick in cases where the accident interfered with the integrity of the car’s structure. You may need to remain in the vehicle and wait for help to arrive, even if you can safely get out of your seatbelt. By pressing your hands to the ceiling with one hand and stabilizing your feet, you can often release your seatbelt and change position, even if you cannot get out of the vehicle.
Keep in mind that many post-collision injuries occur when trying to get out of a vehicle after a rollover collision. You may need to carefully look around to check the presence of any broken blasts or other debris that could cause injury or to take a look at the terrain. You may also need to consider where to stand safely to avoid getting hit by traffic while waiting for help to arrive.
#4. Get medical care.
Following a rollover collision, you should receive an evaluation from a qualified medical professional to help rule out any potential injuries. A medical professional can determine whether you may have suffered a head injury or broken bones that you did not notice in the accident.
Getting care from a medical professional can also help your injury claim. When you receive medical care, it creates a record of the injuries you sustained and that the accident caused them, making it easier for you to put together an injury claim later.
Follow all instructions issued by medical professionals, from paramedics at the accident scene to doctors and nurses at the hospital. Closely following those instructions can help increase your odds of making a full recovery and may decrease the odds that the insurance company covering the liable driver or entity will try to hold you liable for worsening your injuries.
#5. Contact a lawyer for help with an injury claim.
The factors that caused or contributed to your rollover accident can significantly impact who you need to file a claim against and how much compensation you may deserve for your injuries.
Working with a lawyer can help give you a better idea of what parties may share liability for your accident, including whether the vehicle manufacturer might share liability for the injuries you sustained or the collision’s severity. In addition, a lawyer can make sure you understand your rights and your next steps after an accident, which can help you maximize the compensation you can recover.
If you suffered injuries in a rollover accident, you might need an attorney to help. Contact an attorney as soon as possible to ask any questions you have about your claim.