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What Causes Rollover Accidents?

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Posted By Legal Team | April 9 2024 | Car Accidents

All serious car accidents are traumatic, but few are as terrifying and destructive as a rollover accident. Rollover car accidents occur in single-car accidents and in accidents involving two or more vehicles. While taller vehicles like trucks, vans, buses, and SUVs are at a higher risk of rollovers, any vehicle can rollover under the right—or wrong—circumstances.

Rollover accidents cause multiple impacts in addition to the initial crash force, causing serious or catastrophic injuries to motorists.

What Is a Rollover Accident?

In a rollover accident, a vehicle tips over onto its side and then rolls over onto its roof at least once, or rolls onto its roof, then back to its wheelbase, and then back again, until it comes to a stop. Rollover accidents result in a higher number of fatalities and catastrophic injuries than any other type of car accident.

Rollover accidents are more common in taller vehicles because the center of gravity is higher. Because of road lane size constrictions, a tall vehicle’s wheelbase cannot be expanded to provide improved balance. This makes a tall vehicle more likely to tip over under specific circumstances leading to a crash.

What Causes A Vehicle Rollover Accident?

Studies reveal multiple reasons for rollover accidents, including the following:

  • Tripping: Tripping accidents occur when one or more of a vehicle’s tires encounter obstacles such as ditches, curbs, guardrails, slopes, or soft soil. Tire blowouts also cause tripping accidents.
  • Untripped Rollovers: Rollovers caused by circumstances other than tripping over an obstacle are sometimes called “untripped rollover accidents.” These occur due to speeding around curves, swerving sharply to avoid an obstacle, forceful collisions with another vehicle, or skidding due to icy, wet, or slippery roadways.

Tripping accidents abruptly increase the sideways force of a vehicle, causing it to tip and roll over. Taller vehicles are more likely to roll over from a tripping accident, but any vehicle can experience a rollover especially if the tripping occurs at high speed. Speeding increases the risk of this type of rollover accident.

Experienced Atlanta car accident lawyers have seen untripped rollovers occur more frequently in taller vehicles, particularly when a vehicle speeds and makes dangerous turns around sharp curves or swerves to avoid a collision. 

Rollover Accident Statistics

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) collects data on accident types, including vehicle rollover accidents. According to NHTSA:

  • Most fatalities in rollover accidents occur to passengers not wearing seatbelts, including those ejected from the vehicle during the crash
  • Most rollover accidents are single-vehicle accidents
  • The number of SUV rollovers doubled between 1991 and 2001 but has since declined due to improved safety designs
  • About one-half of vehicle rollovers occur when a motorist attempts to avoid a collision and makes a sharp swerve
  • Rollover accidents account for about 30% of annual crash fatalities and are highest among light trucks (pickup trucks)

Rollover accidents are more common on rural roads than in urban areas. Male drivers under age 40 are the most likely motorists to experience rollover accidents.

Common Rollover Accident Injuries

Injuries in rollover accidents tend to be severe due to the initial crash force, multiple impacts during rolling, and the inward crushing of the vehicle structure. Our team of Atlanta personal injury lawyers handle a range of common injuries in rollover accidents including:

  • Traumatic brain injuries
  • Head and neck injuries
  • Facial injuries
  • Shoulder injuries
  • Broken clavicle and other fractures
  • Back injuries
  • Spinal cord damage
  • Internal organ injuries
  • Crush injuries

Rollover accident claims for damages can be challenging to navigate because they are often classified as single-car accidents. However, when a rollover occurs due to a motorist’s attempt to avoid a collision with a negligent driver, or due to hazardous roadway obstacles, the at-fault party is liable for the injury victim’s damages, including medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering. Some rollovers end in wrongful death claims for family members seeking compensation for their economic and non-economic damages.

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