What Should Drivers Know About Rollover Accidents?

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When it comes to serious car accidents, rollover accidents are among the most devastating and destructive. In fact, they have the highest fatality rate, causing more than 10,000 fatalities each year. These accidents often occur when a motorist is driving too fast, which can cause the driver to lose control of his or her vehicle. Unfortunately, rollover accidents have become more common in recent years due to the increased number of motorists who are driving Sport Utility Vehicles, which are more susceptible to rollover accidents due to their higher center of gravity. If a motorist is injured in a rollover accident, an experienced car accident lawyer will thoroughly examine the details of the case and recommend the best legal course of action.

Rollover accidents are less common than rear-end accidents, sideswipe accidents, and side impact collisions, but they tend to cause significantly more property damage and severe injuries. The following statistics show where these accidents are likely to occur, and how serious they can be:

  • Rollover accidents often occur when the motorist is driving straight, negotiating a curve, or some other routine maneuver. In fact, over 90 percent of rollover accidents happen under these conditions.
  • Close to 75 percent of rollover accidents happen in rural areas.
  • Almost half of all rollover accidents involve a driver who was under the influence of alcohol.
  • Rollovers are more likely to cause fatal injuries compared to other types of car accidents.
  • Rollover accidents involving passengers who were not wearing their seat belt are more likely to suffer fatal injuries.

Common Causes of Rollover Accidents

There are several factors that can increase the risk of a rollover accident, from the type of vehicle that the motorist is driving to inclement weather conditions. The following are examples of common causes of rollover accidents:

  • Type of vehicle: SUVs and other vehicles that have a higher center of gravity are more prone to tip over compared to other vehicles with a lower center of gravity.
  • Inclement weather: Wet, icy roads, strong winds, and other inclement weather conditions can increase the risk of a rollover accident, particularly if the driver is speeding, drowsy, or distracted.
  • Driver error: If a driver takes a turn too quickly, approaches a sharp curve too fast on a wet, icy road, or makes any other type of error when driving, a rollover accident is more likely to happen.
  • Speeding: There is an increased risk for rollover accidents when a motorist is driving too fast, particularly when making a turn or approaching a curve in the road.
  • Collisions: When two vehicles are involved in a car accident, one of the cars may tip over.
  • Drunk driving: Driving while under the influence of alcohol can increase the risk of all types of car accidents, including rollovers. In fact, alcohol causes a large percentage of rollover accidents.
  • Distracted driving: When a driver is not paying attention to the road ahead, he or she may not see another car, pedestrian, or object on the road until it is too late. Even if he or she avoids hitting another vehicle, a rollover accident can occur by swerving to avoid hitting the other object in the road.
  • Drowsy driving: Falling asleep at the wheel or losing focus due to drowsiness can increase the risk of a rollover accident.
  • Road conditions. Large potholes, cracks in the road, and other poor road conditions can cause drivers to swerve.

What Types of Injuries Do Rollover Accidents Cause?

According to the National Automotive Sampling System Database, the parts of the body that are the most affected in a rollover accident are the head and neck, thorax, abdomen, upper limbs, and lower limbs. Oftentimes, due to the force of impact, and the severity of the accident, victims may suffer multiple injuries in this region of the body. However, the head and neck are the most vulnerable. In addition to the force of impact, injuries are also caused by unsecured cargo, contact with broken glass or sharp metal, or from being ejected from the vehicle. Depending on the type and nature of the injuries, the victim may require extensive medical care, physical therapy, occupational therapy, and even long-term care. The following are common injuries associated with rollover accidents:

  • Head and traumatic brain injuries: Due to the violent nature of a rollover accident, particularly if the vehicle rolls over multiple times, vehicle occupants can suffer skull fractures, cuts to the head, and brain injuries that can cause permanent physical and cognitive impairments. Injuries can be particularly severe if the occupants were not wearing a seat belt at the time of the crash.
  • Neck injuries: These can include whiplash, slipped or herniated discs, and permanent nerve damage.
  • Spinal cord injuries: Depending on the location of the spine and the force of impact, the victim may suffer partial or total paralysis.
  • Broken bones: These are common rollover injuries associated with multiple impacts that occur in rollover accidents. Injuries include broken arms, legs, ankles, and other bones.
  • Cuts, lacerations, bruises, and soft tissue injuries: These can include deep cuts, pulled muscles and tendons, and torn ligaments.

What Steps Do I Take After a Rollover Accident?

Being involved in a rollover accident can be a terrifying experience, and often results in very serious injuries. Motorists are urged to take the following steps to ensure that police and emergency medical technicians arrive at the scene. Taking these steps will also ensure that the injured driver’s legal rights are protected during the claims process:

  • Call 911. Any car accident that involves property damage and injuries will require police and emergency medical personnel to arrive at the scene. Even if it does not appear that the motorists were injured, the shock and adrenaline can mask certain injuries, so do not hesitate to call 911.
  • Avoid apologizing. When communicating with the other driver and police, the injured motorist should not apologize or admit fault. Only discuss facts about the accident.
  • Seek immediate medical attention. Be sure to get checked out by the emergency medical personnel and go to the closest emergency room if it is recommended. Follow all advice, even if the injuries do not appear to be serious. Keep copies of all medical records.
  • Document the accident scene. Exchange information with the other driver, including driver’s license numbers, insurance information, contact information, and license plate numbers. Obtain phone numbers and contact information from any witnesses who saw the accident happen. Take photos of the vehicles, the road conditions, current weather conditions, and any debris in the road.
  • Contact the insurance company. In order to pursue an injury claim, the motorist must notify his or her insurance company about the accident. Only provide the basic information about the accident and think twice before accepting a lump sum settlement offer.
  • Hire a car accident lawyer. A skilled and dedicated car accident lawyer will communicate with the insurance company and negotiate the best possible settlement offer.

Who is Liable for Injuries Caused by a Rollover Accident?

Considering how severe a rollover accident can be, and the injuries they can cause, it is crucial that the injured victim receive the financial compensation he or she deserves. In addition to the driver, there are other parties who may be held liable for the accident. Determining liability will depend on what caused the accident and whether negligence was involved. The following are examples of parties who may be held liable for a rollover accident:

  • Driver: If the other driver involved in the accident was drunk, distracted, drowsy, or was speeding or driving recklessly at the time of the accident, he or she may be held liable for the accident.
  • Vehicle designer: If the vehicle design made it more susceptible to rolling over, it is possible that the vehicle designer may be held liable.
  • Manufacturer: Manufacturing defects, including inadequate crumple zones, air bags, or roll bars, can increase the severity of injuries if the car owner is involved in a rollover accident.
  • Government entities: State and local governments are responsible for maintaining the roads and highways. If poor road conditions were responsible for a rollover accident, including deep potholes, lack of warning signals, or missing guardrails, the government may be held liable for the victim’s injuries.

Baltimore Car Accident Lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton Seek Compensation for Victims of Rollover Accidents

If you or a loved one was seriously injured in a rollover accident, do not hesitate to contact the Baltimore car accident lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton. We will conduct a thorough investigation into the details of your case and determine who is responsible for causing the accident. Our dedicated legal team will walk you through every step of the claims process and address all your questions and concerns. To schedule a free consultation, call us today at 800-547-4LAW (4529) or contact us online.

With offices in Baltimore, Columbia, Glen Burnie, and Prince George’s County, we represent clients throughout Maryland, including those in Anne Arundel County, Baltimore County, Carroll County, Harford County, Howard County, Montgomery County, Maryland’s Western Counties, Prince George’s County, Queen Anne’s County, Southern Maryland, and the Eastern Shore, as well as the communities of Catonsville, Essex, Halethorpe, Middle River, Rosedale, Gwynn Oak, Brooklandville, Dundalk, Pikesville, Nottingham, Windsor Mill, Lutherville, Timonium, Sparrows Point, Ridgewood, and Elkridge.