A rollover wreck near Interstate 35 and Frio Street, unfortunately, took the life of a 19-year-old woman. While taking the off-ramp for the Frio Street exit, her vehicle hit a concrete wall, fell off the ramp, and flipped over.
The auto accidents like those in action movies—a car spinning out of control and wildly flipping—unfortunately, became a harsh reality. The trauma of a rollover accident is hard to imagine unless you’ve experienced it first hand. Rollover crashes are some of the most dangerous of all motor vehicle crashes. Approximately 3 percent of all motor vehicle crashes involve vehicle rollovers. However, rollovers are responsible for around 30 percent of accident fatalities. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports more than 280,000 rollover crashes per year with more than 11,000 ending with fatalities.
When a car is involved in a rollover accident, the vehicle turns over onto its side or roof. In some cases, the vehicle will roll several times before coming to a halt. Passengers of a vehicle during a rollover accident are at high risk of injury, even when using a seatbelt.
Causes of Rollover Accidents
Ninety-percent of all rollover accidents are single-vehicle crashes. Of these single-vehicle crashes in 2018, 1,289 resulted in death, accounting for 35.42 percent of all motor vehicle traffic deaths that year. A variety of circumstances can cause rollover accidents. Common causes include bad weather, poor road conditions, and speeding.
SUVs and trucks are especially prone to rollover accidents. Top-heavy vehicles have a high center of gravity and narrow track width. They are typically unstable when making sharp changes in direction. If these vehicles start to skid sideways, they are more likely to tip over. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s Rollover Resistance Rating provides safety information to enable buyers to make informed decisions.
The rating estimates the risk of a rollover in a single-car crash; however, the probability of a crash is not calculated. Essentially, decreased vehicle stability increases the risk of rollover. In other words, the more top-heavy the vehicle, the more likely it is to roll over. The rating system assigns five stars for a rollover risk of less than 10 percent. One star indicates a rollover risk greater than 40 percent.
Factors that contribute to a rollover accident include:
High Center of Gravity
Even under relatively good conditions, SUVs, minivans, and large pickup trucks have high centers of gravity. A high center of gravity decreases stability and makes these vehicles more likely to flip over.
Most rollover accidents involve one vehicle. However, accidents involving multiple vehicles can also lead to rollovers.
Tire blowouts caused by negligent manufacturing, poor installation, or old rubber commonly cause vehicles to flip over. If a vehicle is particularly prone to rollovers, bad tires can be a catastrophe.
Sometimes, poor maintenance and inadequate warning signs can contribute to rollover crashes. This is particularly common in construction zones.
Driving Under the Influence
Even a small amount of alcohol can negatively affect your driving skills. Statistics show that almost 50 percent of fatal rollover crashes involve alcohol.
Approximately 75 percent of fatal rollover crashes happen on roads with a posted speed limit of 55 miles per hour or higher. Forty percent of all fatal rollover car crashes involve speeding.
Data shockingly reports that 90 percent of vehicles in fatal, single-vehicle rollover crashes happen in the course of ordinary driving. The data suggests that driver behavior, such as distracted driving, contributes to many rollover crashes.
Common Rollover Injuries
When a car rolls over, the person inside will likely be injured as they come in contact with parts of the vehicle. Due to the nature of rollover accidents, victims are frequently seriously or fatally injured. Injuries from rollover accidents may require extensive long-term treatment. After being injured in a rollover accident, it is essential to promptly seek medical treatment.
Common injuries in a rollover accident include:
- Brain injuries, including concussion
- Spinal cord injuries and other back trauma
- Damage to the ribs, torso, and internal organs
- Bone fractures
- Lacerations, burns, and other disfigurements
Who Is at Fault?
It may be difficult to determine who is at fault in a rollover accident. A combination of factors may lead to a rollover. Some factors include defective vehicles, hazards on the road, or careless drivers.
Rollovers are categorized as “tripped” or “untripped.” A tripped rollover is caused by external factors, such as a guardrail, or a collision with another vehicle. Un-tripped rollovers are caused by poor vehicle stability and happen less frequently than tripped rollovers.
Another driver may be liable for your injuries caused by a rollover accident. Inattentive, aggressive, or careless driving causing another vehicle to rollover may make a driver responsible for any resulting injury.
Poorly maintained or hazardous roads may also cause an accident. Sometimes, posted speed limits are too high, increasing the risk of rollover at dangerous curves. Government agencies or contractors that are responsible for road maintenance and safety may be liable.
Defects in the design and/or manufacture of the car and its components can create an increased risk of rollover. If a defective product is a contributing cause of a rollover, the manufacturer or distributor may be liable. Some common defects that may contribute to dangerous rollover accidents include:
- Defective or malfunctioning brakes
- Defective tires
- Poor pillar design
- Deficient glass
- Seatbelt failure
- Overloaded vehicles
- Load shifts in trucks
Potential Compensation for Victims of Rollover Accidents
Rollover accidents can be extremely costly and in many cases, ongoing. Obviously you will incur initial medical treatment costs. Depending on the severity of your injuries, you may need lifelong medical care. An injured person may find himself unable to work and support his family. Accident victims may be entitled to compensation for past and future medical bills. Additionally, victims may recover for past and future lost earnings, lost earning capacity, and damaged property. Damages may also include pain and suffering, loss of consortium and funeral costs.
What to Do After a Rollover Accident
In the initial shock and trauma of a rollover accident, it can be hard to know what to do. If possible, however, it is important to take some basic steps.
- Seek medical attention right away. Even if you think you have not been injured, some injuries do not appear immediately. You may not feel pain right away. Failure to seek prompt medical treatment may cause further damage and complicate your recovery.
- Contact law enforcement. If possible, gather contact information from others involved and potential witnesses. Take photos of the cars and the accident scene.
- Do not sign a statement or admit fault.
- Do not accept a settlement offer without speaking to a qualified attorney.
Why Do You Need an Attorney?
If you were in a rollover accident, you need an attorney to guide you through the legal process. Consult an attorney without delay. The statute of limitations is the amount of time you have to file a lawsuit following an accident. If you fail to file a lawsuit within the time limit, you are barred from making a claim. In Texas, the statute of limitations for a personal injury or wrongful death claim is two years.