Any car can roll over, but SUVs and trucks have a higher chance of rolling over, thanks to their higher centers of gravity.
A rollover wreck is when a vehicle tips onto its side or flips onto its roof. Wind and sharp curves are common causes of rollover accidents. Rural roads, especially those with sharp curves, see more rollover crashes than city streets.
Why Vehicles Roll Over
Any vehicle could roll over if the circumstances are right. However, those with higher centers of gravity and narrower track widths roll over easier. The track width is the distance between the left and right tires. SUVs and pickup trucks often have a narrower track width than sedans.
Many factors play a part in vehicle rollovers, including the road, environmental factors, such as the wind, the driver’s reaction, and the type of vehicle. Equipment failure could also play a part in some rollover crashes.
Other factors include:
- Vehicle speed. If a vehicle is speeding, the rollover crash is more likely to be fatal.
- Rural roads. These roads have sharper curves and higher speed limits than city roads. Thus, rural roads see more rollover wrecks.
- Distracted drivers and those driving under the influence are more likely to get into a rollover wreck, even on a straight road.
- Equipment failure, for which the vehicle owner, manufacturer, or auto technician may bear liability. Accident investigators can trace poor maintenance by owners, design flaws by manufacturers, or improper repairs by auto techs to determine the negligent party. Design flaws by manufacturers might include failure of the door locks, a roof that crushes, airbags that do not properly deploy, failing head restraints and/or seatbelts, or failing electronic stability control and/or traction control systems.
- Road conditions can also play a large role in rollover wrecks. Poorly maintained roads, debris in the road, and construction could all cause a rollover wreck.
Causes of Rollover Accidents
Common causes of rollover accidents include:
- A vehicle runs over a curb, hits a guardrail, or hits uneven pavement too fast.
- The driver turns too fast for the vehicle’s speed, such as in a sharp curve or making a left or right too quickly.
- The driver runs off the road and down an embankment.
- Another vehicle sideswipes the vehicle.
- Driver error, including a fatigued driver, distracted driving, rubbernecking, driving under the influence, speeding, and driving aggressively.
A driver could oversteer-overcorrect after they leave a lane-and cause the vehicle to roll over. Improperly loaded vehicles, such as those with too much weight on one side of an SUV or pickup truck, could also cause a rollover. Finally, inexperienced drivers and drivers who are unfamiliar with the road have a higher risk of rollover wrecks.
Reducing the Chances of Catastrophic Injuries in a Rollover Crash
Rollover accidents often cause catastrophic injuries, such as traumatic brain injuries and spinal cord injuries. They are also more fatal than most other types of accidents, especially if the driver and passengers are not wearing seatbelts.
You can reduce the risk of having a rollover crash by following these tips:
- When purchasing a vehicle, whether new or used, choose something with the newest safety technology.
- Always wear your seatbelt. Should you get into a rollover crash, it will keep you from being flung around the vehicle or ejected.
- Check the vehicle’s tires regularly. With too much pressure, not enough tread grips the road, increasing the risk of a rollover crash. Without enough pressure, squishy tires hurt vehicle control.
- Know how much your vehicle can carry and/or tow. Overloading vehicles affects vehicle stability, especially if you have a lot of weight on the roof. You can find your vehicle’s load ratings in the owner’s manual. Always put heavy cargo near the middle of the vehicle and as close to the floor as possible.
- Do not speed, especially on rural roads.
Rollover Crash Injuries
The range of injuries you could suffer in a rollover crash varies depending on several factors, including but not limited to speed, the type of vehicle you are driving, whether another vehicle causes the wreck, and the environment. Injuries could range from minor cuts, scrapes, and bruises to death.
Other injuries include:
- Road rash.
- Strains and sprains.
- Pulled and torn muscles and other soft tissue injuries.
- Simple and compound fractures.
- Crushed bones.
- Thermal and/or chemical burns.
- Internal injuries.
- Traumatic brain injuries.
- Face and eye injuries.
- Head, neck, and shoulder injuries.
- Back and spinal cord injuries.
- Amputation of a digit or limb.
You could also suffer secondary injuries, such as infections of open wounds, especially if you have a compromised immune system, blindness, and, if the crash causes an explosion, ear injuries, such as tinnitus and deafness.
Recovering Damages After a Car Rollover Accident
Whether you recover damages depends on whether another person’s negligence caused the accident. If another person-it could be another driver, a municipality that did not maintain roads, a trucking company, an auto technician, or even a manufacturer-caused the rollover crash, you could recover compensatory damages and punitive damages. However, to recover punitive damages, you must prove grossly negligent or intentional actions or inactions took place.
Otherwise, compensatory damages include economic damages and non-economic damages. Economic damages have a monetary value, while non-economic damages do not.
Damages you might recover include:
- Past and future medical expenses.
- Lost wages.
- Loss of future earning capacity.
- Death-related expenses.
- Replacement or repair of destroyed or damaged personal property.
- Pain and suffering, including emotional distress.
- Loss of quality of life.
- Loss of consortium and/or companionship.
You could also recover extra compensation for amputation, excessive scarring, and/or disfigurement.