A rollover accident is a type of vehicle crash where the vehicle rolls onto its top or side before coming to a stop. Many of these rollover accidents are single-vehicle incidents in which the vehicle overturned on its own due to excessive speed, poor handling of the vehicle, or negligent design of the vehicle by the manufacturer.
Other times a rollover occurs after a collision with another vehicle. Regardless of how they occur, rollover crashes are frightening for those involved and extremely dangerous as well.
Of course, heavy trucks are usually the culprit in rollover cases. Accident statistics have long shown that heavy truck rollovers are an extremely dangerous accident mode for truck drivers and their co-travelers on our highways. An NHTSA study indicates that approximately 1,000 heavy truck occupants are killed in crashes every year. The study indentifies rollovers as one of the key factors that play a contributing role in causing those fatalities. In 78% of those cases, the cause of the crash is the driver of the vehicle that rolled over.
This article will address:
- The Serious Risks and Dangers Posed By Rollover Accidents
- Which Plaintiffs Win at Trial in Rollover Cases? (Who does not?)
- Sample Settlements and Verdicts Awarded to Victims of Rollover Accidents
The Serious Risks and Dangers Posed by Rollover Crashes
Rollover accidents are extremely deadly. These accidents account for 33% of all passenger vehicle fatalities every year with more than 10,000 people a year dying in a rollover accident. The taller the vehicle is (an SUV, for instance), the more likely it is to flip over.
More light trucks, SUVs, and vans were involved in rollover crashes than passenger cars in the past year, and the percentage of fatalities was nearly 70 percent higher than passenger car deaths. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) rollovers are the most common type of fatal crash for light trucks, which include SUVs. A study by NHTSA’s National Center for Statistics and Analysis found that “all other things being equal, the odds that an SUV over are 3.60 times the odds that a passenger car rolled over.”
But even though SUVs and larger vehicles are more prone to rollover accidents, they still occur in all types of vehicles. Therefore, the consequences of these crashes must be taken seriously by all motorists.
Ejection is the most common source of injuries and fatalities in rollover crashes. Severe injuries are particularly associated with ejection. Ejection is a significant factor in fatal cases. You would think a seat belt would save you. But not always. A study that looked at injuries and deaths in rollover crashes found that 8.9% of those ejected in rollovers with three or more turns were belted.
What Are Some Typical Examples of Rollover Accidents?
- A car’s tire blows out or its steering column gets stuck, causing the car to jerk forward and flip onto its side or top, crushing the occupants.
- A car that is going way too fast and hits a bump in the road, flips over, and slides into another vehicle, injuring its occupants.
- A car is cut off by another vehicle, swerves to avoid the collision, and swerves so suddenly that the car loses control and flips over, injuring the passengers.
What Kind of Trucks Are Most Likely to Rollover?
Heavy trucks are more likely to roll over — and their occupants are more likely to die — than any other type of motor vehicle because these trucks are not only heavy but high and narrow.
What Can a Driver Do to Protect Themselves in the Middle of a Rollover?
The only thing a driver can do to reduce his chances of serious injuries in a rollover accident is to get out of the way of the collapsing roof. How? It is easier said than done and it comes with its own perils. The driver has to release the seat and get down below the truck’s firewall which is rarely compromised in rollover accidents.
Which Kind of Victims Recover Money Damages in a Settlement or Trial?
The easiest rollover case to prove at trial is if you are a passenger in a vehicle that rolled over. In these cases, liability is easy to establish. The passenger essentially points her finger at the driver and other possible defendants and essentially says to the jury, “You guys figure out who is at fault. But you know it is not me and I deserve compensation.” This is almost invariably a winning argument on liability and the battle is solely about damages and insurance coverage.
Another surprisingly good rollover case is when you are cut off by another driver and, while taking evasive action, your vehicle rolls over. The offending vehicle rarely stays around or even knows that he caused a crash. So the claim is a hit-and-run/phantom uninsured motorist case against your own insurance company. These claims are often easy to win under Maryland law because, realistically, it is the driver’s word against someone who has not shown up for trial. Credible plaintiffs are generally going to win these phantom vehicle accident crash cases at trial. The insurance companies know this so if there is not a large dispute regarding the extent of the loss, these cases usually settle before going to trial.
The toughest rollover case to prove is the product liability case. The claims usually involve SUVs. The claims are often a design defect that the vehicle is too top-heavy and that, as a result, safety features should have been added to compensate for that weight.
Can these cases be won? Absolutely. But no plaintiffs’ attorney is going to take these cases unless the injuries are catastrophic or the victim is killed. Why? Because the cost of bringing these claims is extraordinary and you need the possibility of a very large damage award to justify the cost of bringing one of these cases to trial.
What Are the Possible Causes of a Rollover Crash?
What our truck accident lawyers typically see in rollover crashes is usually excessive speed on a curve. A common lawsuit fact pattern we see is a truck driver is either handling an off-ramp or going around a curve. They react in response to something they see and they roll over.
Actual Settlements and Verdicts Awarded to Victims of Rollover Crashes
- 2022, Texas: $2,168,000 Verdict. A 40-something man was part of the caravan that helped his friend transport a forklift. He was rear-ended by a truck. The man suffered multiple spinal injuries, including an L5-S1 herniation. He sought chiropractic care. The man also underwent multiple steroid injections, branch blocks, and radiofrequency ablations. His physician testified that he would need these treatments for life. The man alleged that the truck driver’s failure to safely operated his vehicle caused his injuries. A jury awarded $2,168,000.
- 2021, California: $750,000 Verdict. A woman was broadsided. Her vehicle rolled over and hit another vehicle. The woman suffered severe injuries. She underwent extensive medical treatments. The woman alleged that the at-fault driver’s running of a red light caused her injuries. She received a $750,000 verdict.
- 2021, Massachusetts: $28,630 Verdict. A man was T-boned by a vehicle that exited a parking lot. His vehicle rolled over multiple times. The man suffered abrasions from glass shards. He also sustained head, cervical, and lumbar injuries. The man alleged negligence against the at-fault driver. He claimed she failed to yield the right-of-way before merging. The man received $28,630.
- 2021, Connecticut: $975,000 Verdict. A truck driver traveled along an interstate. The truck malfunctioned, causing the man to lose control of it. He went off-road and rolled down an embankment. The man died at the scene. His family alleged negligence against the truck’s owner. They claimed they failed to properly inspect the truck, ensure it was safe to operate, and repair its defects. The jury awarded $975,000.
- 2021, Washington: $1,482,200 Verdict. Four college students rode on a tour bus. The bus driver lost control of the vehicle. A single-vehicle rollover accident occurred. The students suffered multiple injuries, including a lumbar fracture, a concussion, a shoulder fracture, and post-traumatic stress disorder. They alleged negligence against the bus driver. They claimed he unsafely operated the vehicle in snowy conditions. The four also made a vicarious liability claim. A jury awarded $1,482,200.
Getting a Maryland Lawyer You Can Count on to Fight For You
Our firm does not take every accident case that comes to us. But if we take your case, you can expect us to fight for you like there is no tomorrow. The team of attorneys at Miller & Zois is very experienced in serious injury and wrongful death vehicle crash cases and are dedicated to achieving the most favorable results possible for their clients. To see if you have a claim, please contact our attorneys today at 800-553-8082 to get a free case evaluation online.