There is always a risk of suffering life-altering injuries or the loss of a loved one in a motor vehicle collision, but rollover accidents pose unique risks. When a vehicle rolls over in a collision, occupants may suffer roof crush injuries or vehicle ejections. These types of motor vehicle accident scenarios involve a significant risk of head injuries, spinal cord injuries, damage to vital organs and even fatalities. Although many fatal rollover accidents in Georgia are caused by driver errors, litigation of these types of accident claims can be complicated because other causes may also be relevant.
A review of accident statistics reveals the unique scope of danger posed to vehicle occupants when cars, trucks and SUVs rollover. Recent data reveals that despite the fact that rollover accidents constitute only a small percentage of the total number of motor vehicle accidents, they account for approximately a third of all fatal motor vehicle accidents. SUVs are far more likely to roll over than passenger cars. While rollovers account for 37 percent of fatal SUV accidents, they account for only 15 percent of fatal passenger car collisions.
The design features of SUVs, which include a high center of gravity, are the primary reason that they are more likely to rollover in a collision. Many rollover accidents in Georgia occur when an SUV takes a curve in the road at too high a rate of speed. Several separate types of forces play a factor in this type of rollover accident – inertia, down and gravity forces.
As a vehicle negotiates a turn at a high rate of speed, down force (the force of the tires on the roadway) pulls the vehicle into the curve at ground level. As down force is imposed on the tires of the vehicle, the force of inertia will pull the higher part of the SUV in the opposite direction. While these forces start to throw the vehicle off balance, gravity then causes the SUV to pick up speed as it tips and rolls over.
While ejection and roof crush injuries can be devastating consequences of these forces, there are measures that drivers can take to reduce the dangers posed by rollover accidents. If you are driving an SUV, you should always wear a seatbelt because it can reduce the likelihood that you will be ejected from the vehicle. Caution also should be exercised by drivers of SUVs when negotiating curves or driving on wet or icy roadways.
If you are a passenger in an SUV that is involved in a rollover collision because of a negligent driver, you may have a legal claim for damages against the other driver. If design defects of your SUV, such as the brake system, tire tread bonding, roof strength or other features contribute to a rollover or cause more serious injuries, you may have a product liability claim against the vehicle manufacturer.