Cars roll over for a number of reasons. The injuries that result are often catastrophic or fatal, and according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), rollover accidents are second only to head-on collisions in their severity. Rollovers constituted about 29% of all light vehicle fatalities from 1992-1996 and accounted for almost 35% of fatal passenger car crashes in 2010.
Rollovers often involve only one vehicle.
Certain light passenger cars, such as sports utility vehicles, are particularly well known for their rollovers. A rollover can result in a passenger being ejected from the car or the car's roof collapsing onto the people inside the car. Most rollover crash fatalities involve only one vehicle.
Rollover accidents often occur because of "tripping," which happens when a car's tire hits something, like a curb or bump or soft soil, which disrupts the forward motion of the car, causing it to roll forward or sideways. The NHTSA has estimated that 95% of all rollover accidents involving one vehicle are caused by tripping.
Other reasons for a rollover have to do with car design, dangerous roadways, or defective tires. For example, SUVs and minivans have a higher center of gravity than ordinary passenger cars and are therefore more likely to roll, particularly if the car has a defective design. Additionally, other drivers' negligence or weather conditions can increase the risk of a rollover.
Bringing a Rollover Accident Lawsuit
Whether you should bring a lawsuit after experiencing a rollover accident depends on the cause of the accident. For example, if you were driving an SUV that might have had a design or manufacturing defect or that required special warnings that were not given, it may be appropriate to bring a products liability lawsuit.
One common product defect that can cause your car to roll over is a defective tire, which can result in tripping. It is often necessary to retain an experienced expert for products liability lawsuits. A design defect expert may not only need to be able to testify as to the nature of the defect being claimed, but also as to what alternative designs were available to the manufacturer.
Since tripping is a common reason for rollover accidents, it may be appropriate to sue the person or entity in charge for failing to maintain the road where the accident happened. This may be a municipality or a private owner, or in a construction zone it may be a general contractor.
Causation and Experts
In order to prove that a vehicle defect or a dangerous road condition caused a rollover, many plaintiffs hire experts such as accident reconstruction or vehicle design and safety specialists.
Premises liability lawsuits can be complex, and your right to bring a suit may depend partly on your status on the property where the accident took place. Additionally, if a public road is involved, you may have a particularly short window to give notice to a public entity that you intend to sue for personal injuries, making it even more critical that you consult with an attorney right away.
A defendant in a rollover accident case may defend on the grounds that the victim of the accident was negligent by pointing to his or her behavior or weather conditions. For example, since SUVs have a high center of gravity and are top-heavy, certain types of maneuvers are more likely to result in a rollover, such as making a sudden change in direction or going around a curve too sharply. The defendant may also point to the negligent actions of other drivers to show that he or she did not cause the accident.