Rollover accidents can cause catastrophic and severe injuries and even death. We at the Clay County Personal Injury Attorney understand the challenges you are bound to face after you have been involved in a rollover accident. The loss of a close family member, non-ending chronic pain, and inability to work can affect all aspects of your life. That is why we would like to help you overcome these challenges.
Over the years, we have helped numerous families and victims of car rollover accidents in Clay County receive the amount of compensation they deserve. Rollover accidents are quite common in Florida and the entire United States. Read on to know more about them.
What are Rollover Accidents?
The term 'rollover' refers to a vehicle crash that happens when the car tips over while on the move onto its roof or side. Almost all vehicles are prone to rollovers.
Generally, the risk of a rollover increases with the vehicle’s speed, the height of the center of mass, steering sensitivity, and narrowness of the axle track. Trucks are more prone to rollovers due to their tall bodies and massive weights than passenger cars. SUVs and full-size vans are also highly susceptible to rollovers, due to their increased suspension and body height.
When a vehicle has rolled over, it will lie on its side or roof. This will block the doors, and the passengers may be unable to escape. Sometimes, the roof may collapse in towards the vehicle’s occupants and cause them to sustain serious head injuries. Also, the fuel may leak, and fires may erupt, leaving the occupants trapped inside a burning vehicle. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, rollover accidents are the most deadly in comparison to frontal, rear, or side crashes.
Rollover Accident Statistics
As illustrated by the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, rollover crashes constitute only 2.17% of the total number of car accidents in the state. However, 11.43% of them cause fatalities.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), over 280,000 rollover crashes occur in the United States each year. SUVs top the list of the type of vehicles most involved in rollover crashes, and they record the highest number of fatalities. We advise you that if you drive an SUV, you must operate it carefully to prevent a rollover. You can reach out to the National Institute for Highway Safety to assess whether your car has a high risk of a rollover.
In the state of Florida, most fatal rollover crashes occur on weekend nights, and when the drivers are male persons who are below 25 years old or intoxicated. In most instances, the vehicle’s occupants had not put on safety belts to protect them from the damaging effects of the rollovers.
Types of Rollover Accidents
According to the NHTSA, there are two categories of rollover accidents, tripped and untripped. Tripped rollovers are the more common of the two, accounting for 95% of the total number of rollover crashes in the United States. Tripped rollovers result from external forces, such as vehicle collisions or curbs. On the other hand, untripped crashes may be brought about by changes in steering input, ground friction, and speed.
Untripped crashes occur if cornering forces affect the stability of the vehicle. As a car navigates around a corner, it is subjected to three forces, namely the tire forces, inertial effects, and gravity. The tire forces push the vehicle towards the curve's center, and they act at the ground level, just below the center of mass. Unlike the tire forces, the inertia forces act horizontally and push away the car from the curve's center. Both of these two forces will make the car roll towards the outside of the curve. The force of gravity acts downwards, right through the center of mass and in the opposite direction. When the inertial and tire forces are sufficient enough to overcome gravity, the car will start rolling over.
As the NHTSA illustrates, there are three types of tripped rollover crashes. Tripped rollovers occur when the car veers off from the highway, and its tires become stuck in mud or hit a foreign object or guardrail. The tripping impact which the tires sustain is what makes a car to roll.
The first category of tripped rollover crashes is the steep slope rollovers. They occur when vehicles are traveling down steep hills, and they start picking up speed. The driver may misjudge the hill’s slope while attempting to make a right turn, thus causing the car to overturn.
The second type of tripped rollover crashes involves guardrails. They happen when cars are traveling at high speeds, and they veer off the highway and move towards the guardrails. The driver may attempt to avoid the guardrail, but the frontal side of the vehicle will strike it. This will send the car up the rail just like a ramp, and it will be ultimately flipped over.
The final category of tripped rollover crashes happens on soft soil. A car may be speeding, and it veers off the road. The driver may attempt to recover from the wrong course by steering the wheel in the opposite direction. Due to the soft soil, this sudden movement will cause the car to rollover.
The Most Common Causes of Rollover Accidents
According to data from the NHTSA, the most common causes of rollover accidents include:
- Vehicle Type
Any vehicle type can be involved in a rollover, but SUVs have an increased risk due to their shape and height. SUVs are tall and narrow, and they have a high center of gravity too. Passengers traveling in SUVs are more vulnerable to sustaining severe injuries in the event of a rollover crash.
Speeding is one of the major causes of rollover crashes. When a motorist is speeding, he/she is most likely to lose control and cause a rollover accident in the event of a roadside hazard.
Over 50% of rollover accidents involve an intoxicated driver. Even just a small amount of drugs or alcohol will impair judgment, slow your reaction time, and reduce eye-hand coordination. Drunk drivers can easily lose control of their vehicles, therefore increasing the risk of a crash.
- Rural Roads
Roads with barriers and clear divisions help prevent rollover accidents, but most rural roads do not have these safety features. As a result, over 75% of fatal rollover crashes occur on rural roads.
- Tire Failure
A car may have excessively worn or defective tires. Such tires may make the driver lose control and cause a rollover crash. Some tires may blow up and make the vehicle trip by itself.
- Roadway Hazards
Dangerous roads and the absence of warning signs can bring about rollover crashes. For instance, a driver may unknowingly approach a construction zone. When the driver attempts to get away from it, he/she may veer off the road and hit a construction tool, making the car to roll over.
- Multi-vehicle Crashes
A car may be hit on the side by another vehicle, causing it to turn over. The chance of a rollover crash will increase if the vehicles involved are SUVs, minivans, and large pickup trucks.
- Aggressive Driving
As per the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, it is mostly young adults and teenagers who engage in aggressive driving. Impatience and road rage makes them indulge in dangerous practices such as sudden maneuvers, tailgating, or erratic lane switches. These reckless acts increase the risk of a rollover crash.
How to Survive a Rollover Crash
Rollover crashes are not common in Florida, but they are extremely dangerous. Of course, the best way to survive a rollover crash is to prevent it from ever happening at all by exercising reasonable care. Unfortunately, you may still be involved in a rollover, no matter how careful and diligent you were.
What would you do if you foresee a rollover crash? Rollover accidents result in 25% of the total number of deaths in car crashes in Florida. You can take several steps to protect yourself from death or severe physical injuries if you predict that you may be involved in a rollover. These steps include:
When the vehicle starts to tip, and you believe it will roll over, immediately remove your feet from the car pedals to prevent ankle breakage. Stop holding the steering wheel and cross your arms against your chest. Press your whole body deep into the car seat. Avoid leaning forward as the vehicle rolls, as this may increase the risk of an arm break and severe brain injury.
Stay Calm and Check for Injuries
After the car has rolled over, brace your feet against the floor to make yourself stable. Assess whether you or other occupants of the vehicle have been injured. Call the police immediately for help.
Turn off the Vehicle’s Engine
You should turn off the car’s engine immediately. Then, you can start planning how to exit the vehicle.
Exit the Vehicle
If you’ve landed upside-down and you believe that you have not sustained any injury, you should reach towards the car’s ceiling, and brace yourself with one hand. Then, stabilize your feet on the vehicle’s floor and untie your seat belt. Choose the safest exit at the windows or doors and crawl towards it.
You should take extreme caution while exiting a rollover car, lest you incur more injuries. Sometimes, you can exit through the car’s doors if they are still working properly despite the crash. If the doors can’t open, you will have to break the windows to create exit points. Make sure you discard any debris or glass shards before exiting.
Once you’ve exited, you should help the passengers who are still stuck inside the car to free themselves. Then, move away from the accident scene because there might be a fuel leak that can result in an explosion.
Distance Yourself from Traffic
Some people may survive rollovers, but oncoming traffic hits them immediately as soon as they exit the turned-over vehicle. After you have exited the car, you should stay clear of traffic and wait for law enforcement officers to arrive.
The Most Common Injuries in Rollover Accidents
As per the National Automotive Sampling System Database, rollover accidents affect five major areas of the human body: lower limbs, head and neck, upper limbs, thorax, and abdomen. Most victims of rollover accidents incur multiple injuries in these regions. The head and neck region is the most vulnerable area for rollover crash injuries.
These injuries may be brought about by slamming into obstacles or other cars, being hit by unsecured cargo, contact with torn metal or broken glass, or being ejected from the vehicle or tossed around within the car. These injuries may have long-term effects such as speech, memory, and vision impairment, damages to internal body organs, loss of hearing, dental injuries, amputation to legs or arms, and chronic pain. Below, we list for you the most common injuries in rollover accidents:
- Traumatic brain injuries - When the car wheels stop moving, but the rest of the car keeps going, a jolting effect is created. This effect increases the risk of passengers to hit their heads on the steering wheel, sidebars, or other moving objects inside the car. This results in severe brain injuries, and the victims may suffer coma or memory loss.
- Spinal injuries - Because rollovers are sudden, they can lead to severe trauma in the spinal cord. The crash can cause the spine to become compressed and the discs to be damaged. Such injuries may require the victim to receive prolonged and constant medical attention.
- Internal bleeding - Rollover crashes can cause severe trauma to internal body organs. These organs may start bleeding internally. Often, internal bleeding leads to death because most victims take a long time to discover it.
- Broken bones - Rollover accidents can result in multiple broken bones, including ribs, arms, and legs. These fractured bones may puncture a lung or even cut an artery.
Instituting Rollover Accidents Personal Injury Lawsuits
Most rollover accidents occur due to driver error, defective vehicle parts, or roadside hazards. If the crash was caused by driver negligence, you could institute a personal injury lawsuit against the driver to recover damages. If the driver died in the accident, you could sue his/her estate to obtain compensation.
Sometimes, defective car parts such as tires, gas tanks, and airbags can cause rollover crashes. If you are a victim of a rollover crash caused by a faulty part, you could file a product liability claim against the manufacturer of the defective part for compensation.
The court can also hold the government liable for a rollover crash, primarily if it occurred in a dangerous or poorly designed or constructed road. For example, if the accident happened in a construction zone that did not have any warning signals, you can file a personal injury claim against the government.
When you have been involved in a rollover accident, your primary focus should be to receive medical treatment for your injuries. You may not recover quickly, and it is recommended that you should consult a personal injury attorney as you receive treatment. After you have hired an attorney, he/she will help you obtain compensation as you focus on recovering from your injuries.
When you've retained a personal injury attorney, he/she will not institute a civil lawsuit immediately. Your attorney will first investigate the accident and identify the at-fault party. He/she will thoroughly assess your medical bills and reports and talk to all the eyewitnesses of the crash. Then, your attorney will decide on the value of compensation you deserve and send a demand package to the insurer of the at-fault party. The insurer will negotiate with your attorney about the settlement value. Your attorney will only accept a settlement offer that reflects the degree and magnitude of your physical injuries and pain and suffering.
As a general rule, you should never accept an early settlement offer from an insurance company without consulting a personal injury attorney. Most insurance companies aim to hoodwink you into accepting settlement offers that are far much less than what you deserve for them to make more profits.
If your attorney does not agree with the insurer about the value of your compensation, he/she will file a personal injury lawsuit via a complaint. The complaint will list all the facts of your case. It is only when the complaint has been filed that your suit will begin.
Proving Liability in a Rollover Accident Personal Injury Lawsuit
Rollover accident personal injury lawsuits may be based on two principles: negligence and product liability. The principle of negligence will apply if you had sued the at-fault motorist or a governmental entity. On the other hand, the principle of product liability will be applicable in your lawsuit if the defendant is a manufacturer of a defective car part.
For you to prove negligence, you must assert the following facts:
- The defendant had a duty of care
- The defendant breached the duty of care
- As a result of the breach, you sustained physical injuries
Motorists have a duty of care to obey traffic laws and not to drive recklessly. Government entities have a duty of care to maintain roads in proper condition and put up warning signals in areas where there are hazards. Either the government or the motorist may breach this duty of care.
Another crucial factor that you must prove in a personal injury lawsuit involving negligence is causation. You must demonstrate how the physical injuries you sustained were caused by the breach of duty of care of the at-fault party. The court will most likely award you damages if you successfully prove causation.
As we asserted earlier, a rollover crash may be caused by a defective car part. In such situations, you must show the court how the part was faulty, and explain why you believe that it was the main cause of the crash. It is not a requirement for you to prove negligence in a product liability lawsuit. You will be awarded damages if you have sufficient proof that the car had a defective part, and this part attributed to the occurrence of the accident.
If you win your lawsuit, the court may award you up to three types of damages: general damages, special damages, and punitive damages. Special damages cover losses that can be quantified in monetary terms like medical expenses and lost wages. General damages are meant to compensate you for pain and suffering, mental anguish, disfigurement, scarring, and any other intangible loss. The court may award you punitive damages if it believes the defendant acted maliciously and in blatant violation of the law. Punitive damages are meant to punish the defendant, and their value may be up to three times the total cost of general and special damages.
Rollover Accident Wrongful Death Lawsuits
If your loved one died in a rollover crash, you could institute a wrongful death lawsuit to recover damages. Of course, no amount of money can compensate for the loss of your loved one. However, monetary compensation may enable you to get closure and ease the financial burdens the loss of a loved one brings.
According to Florida's wrongful death laws, the personal representative of the deceased's estate has powers to institute a wrongful death lawsuit to recover damages. The damages in a wrongful death lawsuit will cover burial and funeral expenses, loss of consortium, loss of companionship and support, and the total wages the victim would have earned had he survived.
Find a Rollover Accident Personal Injury Attorney Near Me
Often, rollover crashes in Clay County are caused by the negligence of another individual or group, or a defective car part. The Clay County Personal Injury Attorney can help you fight for compensation. Our attorneys will pursue each responsible individual, including the product manufacturer, local or federal governmental entity, or the at-fault motorist.
No fees are charged until you win the case. You can reach out to us at any time of the day or night. Call us today at 904-494-8242 for a free case evaluation.