Rollover Accident Lawyer

An Overview of Rollover Accidents, How They Occur, Statistics &Types of Rollover Accidents

Rollover Accident Overview
A rollover accident occurs when a motor vehicle loses its control and the balance of all four wheels on the road and turns over onto its side or its roof, or rolls over multiple times. Rollover accidents are serious and deadly. Sadly, the numbers of cars involved in rollover accidents have increased steadily over the last 15 years. All motor vehicles are susceptible to rollovers, but larger vehicles such as SUVs, RVs, buses, trucks, and minivans are more inclined to roll over due to their higher center of gravity. Furthermore, certain SUV models are significantly more inclined towards rollover accidents, and 15-passenger vans, when fully loaded with people or equipment, have the highest likelihood of a roll over than any other motor vehicle.

Serious and fatal injuries are frequently the result of a rollover accident. This is partially due to the fact that many passengers are ejected from their vehicle in a rollover situation and sustain severe injuries such as trauma to the head and spine.

How Rollover Accidents Occur
A rollover accident can occur for many reasons and in many ways. A vehicle’s center of gravity and dimensions play a large part in rollover accidents. Taller vehicles, such as pickup trucks, have a higher center of gravity, which simply means that they are top-heavy. If a tall vehicle is also narrow, its base of stability is decreased further and increases the likelihood of tipping over. For example, a coach bus is both tall and narrow, while a Hummer is tall but comparatively wide. Both types of vehicles are susceptible to rollover accidents, but in certain circumstances the bus is more likely to roll over than the Hummer.

24rolloveraccidentIn most cases rollover accidents are caused by high cornering speeds while turning. All moving vehicles have three forces acting upon them when they turn: gravity, tire forces and inertial effects. When turning, the tire forces pull the vehicle into the curve at ground level, while the inertial forces pull the vehicle’s upper mass in the opposite direction. The two forces combined then cause the vehicle to roll towards the outside of the turn as gravity pulls the vehicle’s weight downward towards the road. When the gravitational forces are not strong enough to counteract the tire and inertial forces, the vehicle will begin to tip towards the outside of the curve and potentially rollover.

Rollovers can also occur in a situation where a vehicle is sliding sideways, such as on ice or when hydroplaning, and strikes a curb or regains traction suddenly. Rollovers of this sort are called tripping rollovers, as the wheels at the bottom of the vehicle stop suddenly while the mass of the upper portion is still in motion. Collisions with other vehicles or geographical objects can also cause rollovers, as can driving on vertical slopes steeper than 33%.

Often the situations which cause a rollover accident are compounded by design defects inherent to the vehicle or manufacturing defects such as loose steering columns or faulty tires.

Rollover Accident Statistics

  • More than 8,000 individuals die annually due to rollover accidents.
  • Rollover accidents are responsible for approximately 1 out of every 4 motor vehicle fatalities in United States.
  • More than 250,000 motor vehicles are involved in rollover accidents annually.
  • More than 10,000 passenger vehicles annually are involved in rollover accidents resulting in fatalities.
  • Passengers involved in rollover accidents are 36% more likely to sustain serious injuries than those involved in other types of motor vehicle accidents.
  • In 63% of rollover accident fatalities the passengers died as result of ejection from their vehicle.
  • The second leading cause for severe injury or death in a rollover accident is roof crush. Roof crush occurs when the vehicle’s roof fails and is displaced into the passenger area while rolling over.
  • Rollover accidents are more than 90% single vehicle crashes, rather than multi vehicle collisions.
  • Approximately 8,000 of the 10,000 passenger deaths from rollover accidents occurred in a single vehicle crash.
  • 11% of rollover fatalities occur in multi-vehicle crashes, while 56% of rollover fatalities are due to single vehicle crashes.
  • SUVs are the type of vehicle which was commonly involved in rollover accidents.
  • Approximately half of all fatalities involving SUVs are caused by rollover accidents.

Types of Rollover Accidents
The highest proportion of rollover accidents are single vehicle accidents, followed by collision accidents. Both types of rollovers may be caused by a combination of driver negligence, road defects or debris and vehicular defects or design.

Most serious rollover accidents forcibly eject the passengers from the vehicle. Roof crush, which occurs when the vehicles roof caves in onto the passengers during a rollover situation, is another leading cause of injury and death from rollovers. The physical damages that can result from both situations include neck and back injuries, friction and burns, broken, fractured or shattered bones, spinal injuries leading to paralysis, head injuries leading to brain damage, dismemberment or amputations and physical disfigurement. Other injuries may result from vehicular defects such as safety restraint failure, faulty air bags, lack of side air bags, steering defects, defective or absent roll bars, instability and weak or improperly supported vehicle roofs.