According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, rollovers are “complex crash incidents and are particularly violent in nature.” The violent collisions that produce rollovers usually cause more serious injuries than other crashes. Occupants in a car that has rolled over are more likely to be ejected or to suffer from serious head injuries than the victims of other crashes.
If you were injured in a rollover after another vehicle collided with yours, or if a family member died in a rollover caused by a careless driver, you need the help of a California Rollover Accident Attorney who understands the complex nature of rollover accidents. For legal advice from a personal injury team that has decades of experience representing rollover collision victims, call Timothy J. Ryan & Associates at (800) 838-6644.
Causes of Rollover Accidents
Most rollovers are single-vehicle accidents. They are usually caused by driving off the edge of the road or by striking a guardrail at a high speed. Some single-vehicle rollovers, particularly those involving SUVs and small pickup trucks, happen when a driver takes a corner too fast. If you were the passenger of a vehicle that rolled over because of the driver's carelessness, you have the right to seek compensation from that driver's insurance company.
Some single-vehicle rollovers are actually caused by another driver. For example, if a car cuts in front of you, forcing you off the road or into a guardrail, you might become the victim of a rollover. When that happens, you are entitled to seek compensation from the careless driver who caused the accident. It is not always easy to find drivers who drive away after causing accidents, but traffic cameras and witnesses may help the police identify the responsible driver.
In multiple-car collisions, a side-impact collision is the most common cause of rollovers. When a speeding vehicle strikes the side of a car, the car will accelerate sideways. As tires continue to grip the road surface, the opposing forces of the sideways movement and of tires that resist that movement cause the car to lose stability and roll over. Front-end collisions can also cause rollovers. That can happen when the narrower front end of a smaller vehicle becomes wedged under the front end of the larger vehicle, causing the front end of larger vehicle to accelerate upwards.
That scenario is most likely when the front corners of each vehicle come into contact. On the other hand, when a fast-moving heavy vehicle, like an 18-wheel truck, strikes a car head-on, the sheer force of the impact may cause the lighter car to roll over. Finally, rollovers occur when a collision pushes a car out of its traffic lane and into another lane of traffic. In that case, a second collision with a car that is already spinning or moving sideways is may cause the car to roll over.
Causes of Rollover Collision Injuries
Rollover crashes represent about 3% of all collisions but they are responsible for 10% of all deaths in multiple-vehicle crashes. Rollover crashes are particularly deadly for two reasons. First, rollovers are more likely to cause occupants to be ejected from the vehicle. Once they are outside the protective “cage” that a vehicle provides, occupants are at risk of sustaining severe injuries to the head or vital organs when they hit the ground, and of being struck by another vehicle.
Wearing a seatbelt and shoulder harness provides protection against ejections, but crash forces involved in a rollover sometimes cause passengers to become unbelted. Second, when vehicle occupants are not ejected, they often sustain fatal head injuries. Side-impact collisions that cause rollovers do not cause airbags to deploy unless the car is equipped with side-impact airbags. Regardless of airbag protection, head injuries can occur when the car's roof collapses.
The front and rear of a car are designed to absorb crash forces, but few cars offer significant reinforcement of roofs. Convertibles are particularly dangerous in rollover collisions, although some are equipped with roll bars that provide modest protection to occupants. For years, the auto industry has claimed that roof strength is unrelated to injuries experienced in a rollover. Studies the industry-funded to show that crushed roofs do not contribute to injuries have been debunked.
Collapsing roofs change the way vehicle occupants move within the vehicle as the vehicle rolls. They also trap victims within the car. A collapsing roof is more likely to strike the heads of occupants. There is now little doubt that “roof crush” contributes to the serious injuries that vehicle rollovers produce.
Injuries Caused by Rollover Accident
Ejection from a car during a rollover is often fatal. If the crash victim survives, serious injuries and permanent disabling conditions are common. Those include internal injuries, spinal injuries that lead to paralysis, brain injuries, and broken bones. When victims are not ejected, extensive crash damage to all sides of a vehicle often traps occupants within the car.
First responders may need to call for a “jaws of life” unit or other equipment before victims can be removed from the car and treated. That delay can cause victims to bleed to death. Delay can also cause other injuries to worsen due to lack of prompt treatment. Rollovers usually cause the windshield and side windows to shatter, exposing occupants to serious cuts and dangerous blood loss. Jagged edges from torn metal can also injure victims as they are tossed around inside the rolling car.
It is not unusual for surviving victims to experience severe facial scarring. Sometimes glass becomes embedded beneath a victim's skin, causing bits of glass to emerge during the months following the collision. Eye injuries may also be caused by exploding windshields and shards of metal. Other injuries that survivors of rollovers experience include:
- Head and brain injuries
- Neck and back injuries
- Jaw and dental injuries
- Chest injuries and broken ribs
- Pelvic injuries
- Abdominal injuries
- Organ injuries
- Severed fingers and broken or dislocated arms
- Leg, knee, and foot injuries
Rollover Accident Attorney
Victims of rollover injuries who survive a collision caused by another driver's negligence are entitled to compensation from the driver's insurance company. Injury victims may be compensated for:
- Lost wages and loss of future earnings
- Past and future medical expenses
- Other expenses related to the victim's recovery or comfort
- Vocational rehabilitation
- Expenses that will help the victim cope with a disability
- Pain, suffering, and emotional distress
The family members of a victim who died in a rollover collision may be entitled to compensation for the lost income they would have received from the victim and for loss of companionship. For more than 30 years, Timothy J. Ryan & Associates provides Head-On Collision Lawyers in California and has been helping California personal injury and wrongful death victims recover compensation.
To learn more about the assistance that Timothy J. Ryan & Associates can provide Rollover Accident Attorney to victims, call us at (800) 838-6644.