Rollovers—One of the Most Serious Accidents You Can Encounter

Rollover accidents are one of the most dangerous types of accidents one can experience driving. Rollovers can happen under many different circumstances, and often lead to serious injuries or death. If you were injured or lost a loved one because of a rollover accident that someone else’s wrongdoing caused, you can seek compensation for the expenses and impacts you incurred because of the injury or loss.

Contact an experienced rollover accident attorney as soon as possible to schedule a consultation In the meantime, read on for more information about rollover accident cases and how victims can recover compensation.

Basics of Rollover Accidents

A rollover accident occurs when a vehicle rolls over, either in a crash with another vehicle or a single-vehicle mishap. Rollover accidents are highly deadly accidents.

There are generally two types of rollovers, including:

  • Tripped rollovers, which occur when a vehicle skids off the roadway and digs its tires into soft soil or when it strikes another vehicle or object, such as the curb or a street sign, particularly at speed.
  • Untripped rollovers, which occur from extreme driving maneuvers such as those that would be performed when swerving to avoid an accident, or when taking a corner or sharp curve at a high speed. In larger vehicles, such as commercial trucks or even large SUVs, rollovers can also occur due to an imbalance of cargo or weight inside the vehicle.

The Dangers of Rollovers

According to a study conducted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), most rollover crashes are single-vehicle crashes. Nearly three-quarters of the individuals killed in this type of crash are unrestrained by seat belts, and more than two-thirds of those are ejected from the vehicle during the crash. One-fifth of all the fatalities in traffic-involved accidents are the result of a rollover crash.

The incidences of rollovers involving SUVs have nearly doubled in recent decades. Part of the reason is due to the popularity of this particular vehicle style, with nearly half of all new vehicles purchased in the U.S. being SUVs. Newer model SUVs often come with improved technology, such as electronic stability control (ESC), which have made many of them comparable in terms of safety from rollovers as sedan-style passenger cars.

However, many older model SUVs and even newer higher-profile SUVs carry a greater risk of tipping over due to a higher center of gravity. Newer-model SUVs most at risk of rolling over include the Cadillac Escalade, the Toyota 4Runner, and the Chevy Tahoe.

How Rollovers Are Caused

Rollover accidents are most often the result of human error, and particularly in the form of negligence. In law, negligence is a term covering a wide range of careless actions that result in injuries to others.

Some of the most common negligent actions that result in rollovers include:

  • Speeding: The NHTSA reports that speed is the most important factor in rollover crashes, with the majority of rollovers occurring on roadways where the speed limit is 55 miles per hour or more. Speeding makes it harder to control a vehicle, and decreases the time a driver needs to perceive and avoid a hazard on the roadway.
  • Overcorrection: Also known as oversteering, overcorrection occurs when the driver abruptly turns the steering wheel and changes direction, throwing the vehicle off-balance. Overcorrection often occurs with inexperienced drivers attempting emergency driving maneuvers, as well as those who are impaired by alcohol or drugs or are driving while fatigued.
  • Defective or poorly maintained tires: Tire blowouts make a vehicle incredibly hard to maneuver and can cause the vehicle to pull sharply to the opposite side as the blown tire. Blowouts may result from driving on bald or underinflated tires can result in blowouts, or from defects in the tire. If your accident was the result of a defective tire, the manufacturer or distributor of the tire could bear liability.

Common Injuries Associated With Rollovers

Because ejection is a common feature in rollover accidents, some of the most common injuries to result from this type of accident are also the most catastrophic and deadly. Impacts on ejection often affect the brain and the spinal cord, which make up the body’s central nervous system.

The brain sends messages through the spinal cord to the rest of the body, controlling all the body’s functions and involuntary responses. Unfortunately, despite the importance of the brain and the spinal cord, they are delicate and have only a limited capacity to heal from damage. Injuries to either carry a high risk of permanent deficits.

The brain is made up of several segments, known as lobes, which are each responsible for specific functions of the body. The deficits incurred in a traumatic brain injury depend not only on the severity of the impact, but also the injured part of the brain.

Some common deficits associated with traumatic brain injuries are memory loss; difficulty controlling behavior, impulses, or emotions; difficulty speaking or understanding spoken language; vision problems including blindness or the inability to perceive the size or shape of objects; and consciousness disorders such as coma, persistent vegetative state, or minimally conscious state.

Contrary to some understandings, a spinal cord injury rarely features a severed cord, but rather more targeted damages. The spinal cord is a bundle of nerves that span the distance from the base of the skull to the waist. It is located within the bony protection of the spine.

Damage to the spinal cord results in the loss of sensation and function below the site of the injury, which is known as paralysis. Damage occurring high on the cord, in the cervical (neck) area, often results in tetraplegia—also known as quadriplegia—which is paralysis of all the limbs, the torso, hips, pelvis, shoulders, and diaphragm.

Damage occurring in lower areas of the spine can result in paraplegia, which is paralysis in the legs, hips, pelvis, and feet. Spinal cord injuries have a high risk of complications, including the inability to feel extremely hot or extremely cold sensations; loss of bowel and bladder control; a risk of damage to the skin caused by remaining in one position too long, known as pressure ulcers or bed sores; and the inability to cough secretions from the lungs, which can result in pneumonia.

Damage to the spinal vertebrae and discs as well as the soft tissues in the back and neck are also common injuries in rollovers, even for restrained occupants, as a vehicle rollover is often violent and forceful.

Broken bones are also common for both restrained and unrestrained passengers in rollovers, from being struck against objects inside or outside of the vehicle, in addition to the basic impact of the rollover’s force on the body. Rollover crashes also commonly result in a lot of broken glass, which may result in deep cuts and even penetration of the torso, eye, or other vulnerable areas.

Seeking Compensation

If you were injured in a rollover crash that was the result of someone else’s careless or reckless actions or a product defect, an experienced car accident attorney can provide services aimed at ensuring that you obtain the maximum level of compensation for the expenses and impacts of your injury. Recovering compensation in rollover accident cases typically involves filing a truck accident lawsuit. This seeks to prove who was liable for the accident, and show the extent of the expenses and impacts you have incurred and for which you deserve compensation.

The Statute of Limitations in Rollover Cases

In California, the statute of limitations for truck accident cases—including rollover accident cases—is two years from the date of the accident. However, some exceptions may result in a shorter or longer deadline, including rollover accidents that involve liability by a governmental employee or agency, which must be filed within six months. This alone is a reason to consult an attorney so that you do not miss the statute of limitations and your opportunity to recover the compensation you need and deserve.

Recoverable Damages

In truck accident law, the word “damages” refers to a payment made in compensation for harm. Economic damages involve compensation for the tangible expenses of your injury.

Common expenses included in a damage claim are:

  • Medical expenses, including treatment at the scene or in the emergency department; transport to the hospital by ambulance or air; diagnostic testing; hospitalization; the services of your physician or surgical team; prescription medication; physical therapy and rehabilitation; and the provision of assistive devices such as prosthetics, a wheelchair, or crutches.
  • Lost wages, if you are too injured to work.
  • Loss of future earning capacity if you can’t earn in the same capacity as you were before the accident due to permanent disabilities.
  • Property damage, such as the cost of repairing and replacing your vehicle if it was damaged in a rollover accident.

Non-economic damages refer to compensation for other impacts resulting from your accident injuries that do not have as readily assignable value, such as:

  • Physical pain and suffering.
  • Emotional distress.
  • Loss of the enjoyment of life.
  • Loss of consortium, which is a damage claimed on behalf of an injured person’s spouse for the loss of physical intimacy and companionship that often accompanies serious injuries.

Proving Liability

To have a court order a party to pay damages, you must prove they are liable, or legally responsible.

To prove liability in your rollover accident case, you must show:

  • The at-fault party owed you a duty of care. The duty of care refers to the actions a reasonable person would take in a similar set of circumstances.
  • There was a breach in the duty of care. “Breach” refers to the actions that the at-fault party took that were contrary to the duty of care they owed.
  • The breach resulted in the rollover accident that caused your injuries and resulted in subsequent impacts and expenses for which you are seeking compensation.

Rollover Accident? Call an Attorney

Rollover accidents are not only terrifying and often tragic, but they can make for complex legal cases. Speeding, impairment, driver inattention, or driver inexperience can come into play, as can the conditions of the weather, the behavior of others on the roadway, and even issues that can have a huge ripple effect across a large number of consumers, such as a tire defect that results in recalls and other product liability cases.

Many individuals are tempted to seek compensation for their injuries on their own, but this is often an overwhelming and disappointing process. An experienced truck accident attorney can provide services and guidance that are necessary for rollover accident victims to recover full and fair compensation for the often-catastrophic injuries that are produced by these particularly devastating accidents.

An attorney can provide:

  • A determination of all sources of liability and all insurance resources that can be accessed for compensation.
  • A valuation of your case that is based on the full picture of your current expenses and impacts from your injury as well as those you will likely incur in the future.
  • Negotiation with the at-fault party’s insurance provider in an attempt to resolve your case through settlement.
  • Guidance as to the pros and cons of accepting or declining an offered settlement.
  • Timely filing of all court-required paperwork and attendance at all pre-trial conferences and hearings.
  • Representation in court.
  • Assistance in collecting your award or settlement.

When you are dealing with all of the mayhem following a rollover accident, the last thing you need is to have to be fighting with an insurance company. Contact an attorney, and get the professional assistance you need to recover the compensation you deserve.

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