One of the most dangerous, often fatal, types of vehicle accidents that may occur is the rollover accident. These types of accidents involve a vehicle that flips over, usually as it veers off of the road, and may roll multiple times before coming to a stop. The severity and danger of these accidents are second only to head on collisions, and, in 2014, rollover accidents caused one-third of traffic fatalities in the United States.
Tripped vs. Untripped Rollover Accidents
Rollover accidents are divided into two basic categories: tripped and untripped. In a tripped rollover, the vehicle's wheels come into contact with some object which inhibits the vehicle's normal path. Common objects include curbs, another vehicle, or an object in the road which forces the car to veer quickly and roll. Untripped rollovers are caused by a combination of speed, steering, and road conditions, such as taking a turn quickly at a high speed or exiting a freeway on a highly curved ramp.
Possible Factors in a Rollover Accident
Rollover crashes are more likely to occur at higher speeds. In fact, almost 75% of rollover accidents occur in areas where the posted speed limit is 55 mph or higher. Sometimes speed limits may not be appropriate for the road conditions, causing a dangerous situation. Alternatively, if a driver is operating their vehicle significantly above the posted speed limit, especially on curvy roads, they are more likely to experience a rollover accident.
Road conditions are a major factor in rollover accidents. Around three-fourths of rollover crashes occur on rural roads, where there are no barriers to prevent cars from exiting the roadway and no division between lanes traveling in opposite directions. In addition, conditions such as rain, snow, black ice, or potholes can cause a vehicle to slip or be suddenly diverted from its normal trajectory, resulting in a rollover. Cities, counties, and states have a responsibility to maintain their roadways.
Certain types of vehicles are much more likely to experience a rollover accident. Particularly tall, narrow, or high vehicles have a high center of gravity, making them less stable and more liable to rolling. Jeeps, utility vans, lightweight trucks, and SUVs are some of the most commonly cited examples of these kinds of cars. Poor manufacturing or design may contribute to a vehicle's propensity to roll in the event of an accident and may warrant a product liability lawsuit.
Common Injuries Resulting from Rollovers
Because of the violent nature of rollover accidents, injuries in such scenarios can be catastrophic. Ideally, vehicles are designed to sustain significant impact and the structure, airbags, and seatbelts should protect occupants when the car flips. However, the sheer force of a rollover accident may cause the car's frame to collapse. In addition, shards of glass from windows, objects inside of the car, and objects outside of the car such as trees and rocks may cause significant injuries such as
- Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), an umbrella term for all kinds of brain injuries resulting in short term or long term cognitive dysfunction, memory issues, and pain
- Back or spinal cord injuries, which may, under certain conditions, result in permanent paralysis or reduced mobility
- Fractures, ranging from broken bones in the hands, feet, or ribs to even the femur or collar bone. Fractures often necessitate long recovery time and may prevent the victim from ever regaining their full range of motion.
- Whiplash, a condition in which the muscles and/or ligaments in the neck are severely strained or torn from the sudden and forceful movement of the car
- Lacerations, often due to shards of metal or glass cutting the face or body, leading to permanent scarring or disfigurement
- Soft tissue injury which might include such various injuries as sprains, dislocations, stretched or torn ligaments or muscles, and bruising
- Facial disfiguration and chest injuries from the deployment of airbags or from the head and face hitting the dashboard as the vehicle flips
- Internal bleeding, a severe and acute condition in which organs are punctured inside the body and need immediate surgical attention
Taking Legal Action in New Mexico
If you have been involved in a rollover accident, you are most likely devoting your time and energy to recovering and caring for other friends and family who may also have been injured in the accident. In order to recover compensation for the costs associated with this trauma, there are many avenues available to you. At Revo Smith Law, we will investigate your accident and any possible factors that may have caused your injuries, such as unclear road signs, poor road conditions, the actions of other drivers, and defect designs in the vehicle in which you were driving. Call us today to get started at (505) 293-8888 or contact us online.