Rollover accidents are an incredibly dangerous type of car accident. While they make up only about 2 percent of vehicle crashes, they account for nearly 35 percent of all accident-related deaths. Survivors are often left with significant injuries and expenses. If you or a loved one have been the victim of a rollover accident, you can rely on the skill and experienced Kelly Law Team to help you receive the compensation you deserve.
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Types of Rollover Accidents
There are two types of rollover accidents: tripped and un-tripped.
During tripped rollovers, a vehicle slides sideways and is “tripped” by an object, and the high force applied to the tires causes the vehicle to roll. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 95 percent of single-vehicle rollovers are tripped. Tripped rollovers can be caused by:
- soft soil
- snow banks
- pavement surface discontinuities
- steep slopes in off-road environments
“Un-tripped” rollover accidents account for 5 percent of single-vehicle rollovers. These accidents are most likely to happen to top-heavy vehicles and during high-speed collision avoidance maneuvers. For example, a heavily loaded pickup truck is traveling at a high rate of speed and suddenly swerves to the left to avoid debris in the road but then quickly turns right to adjust and the top heaviness of the truck causes it to rollover.
Causes of Rollover Accidents
Rollover accidents are complex and may be caused by many factors. In fact, the NHTSA reports that almost 85 percent of rollover-related fatalities are from single-vehicle rollovers—the majority of rollovers do not involve vehicles aside from the car that rolled. So, what does this mean? Driving behavior is a significant factor in rollover accidents. Other factors may include:
- Vehicle. Tall, narrow vehicles like SUVs, pickup trucks and vans have a higher center of gravity and are more prone to rollovers. Design changes and improved safety mechanisms have helped to increase the safety of SUVs in recent years but have not eliminated the increased risk.
- Speed. Excessive speeding is a factor in 40 percent of fatal rollover accidents, and 75 percent of fatal rollovers occur where the speed limit is 55 miles per hour or greater.
- Location. Rural areas where the speed limit is 55 miles or higher account for almost 75 percent of fatal rollovers. These roads are more likely to be undivided and have no barriers.
- Alcohol or drugs. Nearly 50 percent of fatal rollover accidents involve alcohol.
- Routine driving maneuvers. Over 90 percent of fatal, single-vehicle crashes involved routine driving maneuvers at the time of the crash. This includes driving straight or negotiating a curve. The NHTSA suggests that driver behavior like inattentiveness, distraction and speeding may play a big part in these types of accidents.
- Seat belts. Nearly 70 percent of people who die in rollover accidents are not wearing a seat belt.
I’ve Been in Rollover Crash—What Should I Do?
If you were in a rollover accident and find yourself upside down, do not immediately unfasten your seat belt. The first thing you should do is turn off your car engine. Next, put your feet on the vehicle floor to stabilize yourself and take note of any injuries that you and your passengers may have. If you think you can safely and quickly exit the vehicle, do so. If not, call 911 while still belted in. If you can exit your vehicle, make sure to brace yourself with one hand before unbuckling your seat belt and keep your feet on the floor. Watch out for broken glass and debris as you make your way out of the car.
After you exit the vehicle, assist other passengers. Depending on the severity of their injuries, it may not be safe to move them and better to wait for first responders. Once you and your passengers are free from the vehicle, move as far off the road as possible to avoid any oncoming traffic. If you have not called 911, call as soon as possible.
- If the accident involved other vehicles, get the name, address, phone number and driver’s license number of the other driver. Record the license plate number and insurance information as well.
- Take photographs of any damage to your vehicle, any other vehicles, and any other property.
- Photograph all injuries.
- Gather contact information from any witnesses.
- Seek medical attention, even if you do not think you need it. Rollover accidents are violent crashes both physically and emotionally and some injuries may be masked by adrenaline or not readily apparent.
- Do not talk to insurance adjusters until consulting with an attorney who has experience with rollover accidents.
How to Recover Damages for Rollovers
The cause of a rollover may be difficult to discern on first glance, especially if it was a single-vehicle crash. If another driver was at fault and caused the accident, or if you were a passenger in a single-vehicle crash, you may be able to recover damages by negotiating with the driver’s insurance company or by filing a lawsuit. However, it is never wise to speak to an insurance adjuster without first consulting an attorney. Insurance companies want you to settle for the lowest amount possible, potentially leaving you with an unfair settlement.
You may be entitled to compensation for past and future medical bills, pain and suffering, lost wages and loss of future earnings.
If you were in a single-vehicle rollover, an experienced Phoenix rollover accident attorney can help you determine what caused the accident. Road conditions or vehicle defects may have caused or contributed to your accident and an attorney has the skills and resources to thoroughly investigate your crash.
Tips for Safe Driving
While vehicle safety has improved over the years, there are things you can do to reduce your chances of a rollover.
- Always wear a seatbelt and make sure all passengers do too.
- Follow the manufacturer’s recommendations on loading your vehicle. Overloading can decrease vehicle stability.
- Adhere to speed limits and be diligent when driving on rural roads.
- Keep tires properly inflated.
The Kelly Law Team have successfully represented victims of Phoenix rollover accidents. Call now for a free consultation at 602-283-4122.