Seattle Vehicle Rollover Lawyers
Victims of rollover crashes often suffer catastrophic injuries or death. Despite the dangers of SUVs and other large vehicles, manufacturers continue to produce and sell them to the public every year.
If you or a loved one has been the unfortunate victim of a rollover accident, you should get in touch with the experienced Washington car accident attorneys at Hardwick & Pendergast, P.S. By establishing a strong claim, we may be able to hold the negligent driver and/or the automaker liable for the losses you have sustained. Contact us today at (888) 228-3860 to get started on the path to recovery.
In a recent one-year period studied by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), rollover accidents made up 3% of all vehicle collisions, but were involved in 33% of all fatalities. Rollover accidents, while not common, are tragically dangerous to the occupants of a vehicle. One way to help prevent rollover fatalities is to make sure everyone in the vehicle is wearing a seatbelt - 72% of the fatalities for that year involved a lack of safety belts. Almost two-thirds of these victims were completely thrown from the vehicle during the accident.
Vehicle Rollover Recoveries
- $1,925,000 recovery in a wrongful death claim for a Federal Way family that was traveling to Los Angeles when they were cut off on the freeway, causing their car to rollover.
The initial collision can be devastating, but occupants can also be crushed during the rollover, and some are ejected while the vehicle is still in motion. There are many reasons why rollovers are dangerous, and many types of injuries that Seattle motorists may suffer during one of these violent crashes:
Traumatic Brain Injuries
During the roll, the occupants may be thrown around in the interior of the car. Even someone wearing a seatbelt can strike a side window, a seat, the dashboard, or the steering wheel. This impact can result in head trauma and brain damage. Anyone who has lost consciousness, or who feels nauseated or confused after an accident, should seek immediate medical attention. Traumatic brain injuries often have long-lasting or permanent symptoms, including significant changes to one's physical and mental abilities.
Neck and Back Injuries
The sudden changes in directions that can occur during a rollover can result in devastating neck and back injuries. Even people who are wearing seatbelts can experience whiplash injuries, herniated disks, and other debilitating spinal cord injuries. Those who are not buckled up are more likely to be ejected or thrown about inside the rolling vehicle. In such cases, victims may lose feeling or sensation in their limbs, resulting in permanent disabilities such as paralysis.
Even when a car has a solid frame and maintains its shape during a rollover, the windshield and side windows will likely shatter during the crash. Lacerations and amputations are possible in these accidents. Victims who do not receive immediate treatment may lose a significant amount of blood, or suffer permanent scarring and disfigurement.
The NHTSA reports that about 40 percent of all fatal rollover crashes involve excessive speeding.
There are a number of contributing factors to rollovers. Some of the most common include:
- Vehicle design: Many vehicles such as SUVs, pickup trucks, vans, and 15-passenger vans have a high center of gravity. A vehicle with a high center of gravity and narrower track width has a greater chance of tipping or rolling over.
- Road conditions: The NHTSA reports that rollover accidents are most likely to occur on rural roads that do not have barriers.
- Speed: The faster a vehicle is going, the more likely it is to rollover, especially when there is some type of impact. Additionally, most fatal rollover car accidents occur where the posted speed is over 55 mph.
- Driver negligence: Most rollovers are single-vehicle crashes. Many of these accidents could have been prevented had the driver been more attentive or careful. Drivers who are fatigued, speeding, drunk, or distracted have a greater chance of being involved in a rollover crash in Washington.
- Routine driving: It is a common misconception that rollovers have to involve a reckless driver or a dangerous condition. The NHTSA has stated that over 90% of fatal rollover accidents involve routine driving maneuvers such as negotiating a curve. Rollovers can also occur when the drivers attempt sudden action.
- Dangerous roadway: If a driver has to veer suddenly to avoid a pothole, there is the risk of a rollover. Governing bodies in charge of the roadway have a legal obligation to keep it properly maintained.
- Defective tires: When a tire goes out on the highway, there is a risk that the vehicle will veer out of control. In 2000, Bridgestone/Firestone had to recall millions of tires that had the potential to cause fatal SUV rollover accidents.
When sports utility vehicles (SUVs) gained prominence in the 1990s and early 2000s, they were touted as comfortable, luxurious, and safe vehicles. Although SUV sales dropped off during the economic crisis, the numbers have surged back up over recent years. The sturdy structure of the SUV can provide extra protection in the case of an accident; however, the same design factors that supposedly prevent injuries can also contribute to rollovers.
The key structural features that distinguish SUVs from more traditional motor vehicles and make them more susceptible to devastating accidents include the following:
- Higher center of gravity: SUVs are typically taller than regular automobiles. This equates to a higher center of gravity, and consequently, a greater risk of rollover accidents. Rollovers have the potential for roof crush, which can cause severe head and spinal cord injuries and even death. According to the NHTSA, SUVs can have a 10% or higher chance of rollovers. Most SUV rollovers occur when the driver strikes a low object like a curve, or when the driver executes an emergency maneuver to avoid a road hazard.
- Increased weight: SUVs can weigh up to four tons, much greater than the average automobile in the U.S. Due to their mass, SUVs can cause much more damage in a crash, not just to themselves, but to other smaller automobiles.
- False sense of security: According to a report by the Opinion Research Corporation, 39% of Americans felt they were “much less vulnerable” when riding in an SUV. This false sense of security can encourage negligent or reckless behavior in SUV drivers, leading to a higher risk of an accident.
Victims of rollover accidents often need immediate medical attention. Emergency services, surgery, hospitalization, and rehabilitation services may be necessary, but extremely costly. If the rollover resulted from someone else's negligence, the victims are eligible for compensation. A skilled car accident attorney will work to determine who should be held liable, possibly:
- The vehicle's driver: Did the driver cause the rollover because he or she was speeding, intoxicated, or distracted?
- Driver of other vehicle: Did another negligent driver cause the rollover by making an unsafe lane change, by forcing the vehicle off the roadway, or through some other negligent or reckless act?
- Manufacturer of the vehicle: In some cases, it is possible to recover financial support from the manufacturer of the vehicle if the car rolled as the result of faulty design.
The experienced Seattle car accident injury attorneys at Hardwick & Pendergast, P.S., know how to handle all types of injury cases. We work with accident investigators to determine the cause of the crash and liability. We are ready to provide you and your loved ones with a free and comprehensive case evaluation on your potential personal injury claim. Contact us today at (888) 228-3860 to find out how we can help.
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