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Critical Role of Seat belts in SUV Rollover Accidents

March 27, 2016

The SUV rollover accident that caused serious injury to a Pickens County Sheriff's deputy in February provides a reminder of the important role of seat belts during a rollover crash involving these large family vehicles. Although the exact sequence of events that caused the SUV to roll three times has not been reported in the media to this point, the Sheriff's deputy suffered serious injury after being ejected from the vehicle during the crash. A passenger in the vehicle also was treated for head injuries after transport to Kennestone Hospital. While the accident is still under investigation, the ejection of the deputy suggests he was likely not strapped in with a seat belt.

Regardless of whether a person is traveling down Georgia interstates or Atlanta streets, an SUV rollover accident can be extremely dangerous, resulting in catastrophic injuries that cause permanent physical or mental disabilities and wrongful death. Tire blowouts due to tread separation or other tire defects cause some SUV rollover accidents. SUV rollovers also can be caused by nothing more than evasive maneuvers where a driver veers to avoid an accident and over compensates when turning the steering wheel back in the other direction. The height of an SUV combined with its proportionally narrower wheelbase compared to a passenger car makes it more prone to roll in a crash.

Because of the increased risk of a rollover accident involving an SUV, it is especially important for all occupants to fasten their seat belt and to secure children in age-appropriate child safety restraints. Seat belts, car seats, and booster seats are essential when driving any vehicle. However, the high risk of rollover accidents and vehicle ejections in SUVs make this safety equipment even more critical to keep occupants inside the vehicle. The increased probability of vehicle ejections in SUV rollover accidents is partially linked to the fact that they often have weaker door locks than other vehicles. A lack of glaze lamination over the safety glass also contributes to an increased vehicle ejection rate in SUV rollovers.

Sometimes SUVs have seat belts that are defective and can unbuckle during a rollover accident. Some SUVs also lack properly functioning mechanisms called pre-tensioners designed to retract and tighten the belt during an accident. There have been a significant number of product recalls related to defective seat belts in SUVs. Even if seat belts and child safety restraints are functioning properly, they can only prevent serious injuries and crash fatalities if vehicle occupants use them.

Seat belt use has improved in recent years due in part to mandatory seat belt laws. Depending on the state you live it, seat belt violations are either classified as primary or secondary offenses. A primary seat belt law authorizes a police officer to pull you over even if you have not committed any other traffic violation. Secondary seat belt laws only permit a seat belt ticket to be issued if a driver is pulled over for reasonable suspicion of some other violation of law. Georgia is a secondary seat belt law jurisdiction that requires children under 17 to be properly restrained by seat belts or children's safety seats, as appropriate, regardless of where the vehicle occupant is seated. Adults who are 18 and over only need to wear a seat belt in the front seat according to Georgia law, but it is incredibly dangerous not to wear your seatbelt in general, no matter where in the vehicle you are sitting.

Since the widespread enactment of mandatory seat belt laws, seat belt use has increased to 85 percent according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Unfortunately, this means that many people still do not buckle up. If you are involved in an SUV rollover accident, the risk of vehicle ejection is substantial. Our experienced Atlanta car accident lawyers encourage all those traveling the roadways of Georgia to buckle up and secure their children with an age-appropriate child safety restraint. Our law firm has been representing Atlanta motor vehicle accident victims for over three decades, and we have seen far too many tragic fatal accidents where a seat belt might have saved the life of a spouse, parent, grandparent, or child if the person had been buckled up.

Put Our Law Firm's Over 38 Years of Legal Experience to Work For You! 

If you or your loved one has been seriously injured in a motor vehicle accident in Atlanta, our experienced Atlanta SUV rollover accident lawyers have the compassion and commitment to strive for the best outcome for our clients. Our Atlanta car accident lawyers at Montlick and Associates, Attorney at Law, are available to assist clients throughout all of Georgia and in the Southeast, including but not limited to Albany, Athens, Atlanta, Augusta, Columbus, Gainesville, Macon, Marietta, Rome, Roswell, Savannah, Smyrna, Valdosta, Warner Robins and all smaller cities and rural areas in the state. No matter where you are located our attorneys are just a phone call away, and we will even come to you.

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Category: Auto Accidents

Please Note:
Many of our blog articles discuss the law. All information provided about the law is very general in nature and should not be relied upon as legal advice. Every situation is different, and should be analyzed by a lawyer who can provide individualized advice based on the facts involved in your unique situation, and a consideration of all of the nuances of the statutes and case law that apply at the time.