Rollover accidents are among the most serious car accidents, with more significant risks of serious physical injury and fatality. However, accidents of this nature are often complex. While the motorist of another automobile may have led to the collision, manufacturers are often held responsible for the victim's injuries in most cases.
Seeking restitution from large companies can be a difficult task that only an experienced rollover accident attorney like the Foos Gavin Law Firm can handle. Our lawyers will relentlessly fight for you, review the situation, and provide recommendations regarding your options. We serve the city of Sacramento.
A Brief Overview of Rollover Accidents
A rollover accident occurs when an automobile is knocked or tipped over, forcing it to flip and rest on its side or roof. In some situations, the occupants involved in such a crash get ejected, increasing the likelihood of sustaining catastrophic injuries or death. SUVs are more likely to roll over. However, vans, passenger cars, and pickup trucks could also get involved in rollover accidents.
Leading Causes of Rollover Car Accidents
While driver error may lead to a rollover crash, most of these incidents are caused by poor vehicle design, vehicle flaws, and even bad road conditions. These may serve as a "tripping" method. The following are some common causes of rollover accidents:
- Tire Failure—defective tires could fail abruptly, causing the automobile to lose control and roll over or flip. It's also possible for the car to roll over if one tire loses traction with the road
- High Center of Gravity—the center of gravity is a design defect in some vehicles. This is common in SUVs. A rollover crash can occur if the motorist is compelled to make an abrupt sharp turn, which causes the vehicle to flip over
- Defective Auto Parts—other faulty parts, like defective steering wheels, brakes, or accelerators, could significantly increase the probability of rollover accidents
- Defective Suspensions—the vehicle's suspension system is responsible for maintaining the vehicle's stability. The automobile may lose control and flip or topple over if the suspension doesn't work well
- Poor Road Conditions—the federal and state governments are responsible for keeping roads safe. Uneven surfaces, poor road signage, and negligent maintenance of the roadways can all serve as "tripping factors" for rollover accidents
These arguments demonstrate that manufacturing flaws that develop during the production of vehicles are often the root cause of most rollover accidents. This could involve neglecting to use the proper materials during manufacturing, failing to tighten an auto part, or installing the wrong component.
Faults in the manufacturing process differ from the manufacturer's specification, design, or other standard units associated with the same line of products. Identifying blame and liability could be challenging since many contributing factors lead to rollover accidents.
Liability in a Rollover Accident
A rollover accident can have life-changing consequences since it often results in substantial injury and harm to the people involved. The vehicle is often written off because the roof and the sides are significantly damaged. Individuals within the vehicle may be thrown around or ejected when it flips over, suffering serious injuries like spinal injuries, severe brain trauma, and fractured bones.
Victims could also be able to pursue a personal injury case against the individual or company that caused the crash. However, before filing a case, it should be determined who is to blame for the tragedy. The wounded victim holds the burden of proof in a personal injury lawsuit and must prove that the accused's negligence led to the accident.
According to California negligence law, the negligent party is responsible for any damages and injuries when their actions lead to the accident. The following are some examples of negligence:
- The accused owed the victim a duty of care
- The violation was a significant element in causing the victim's injuries
- A violation of the duty of care
Once the elements of negligence are verified, the accused will be held accountable for any injuries sustained. Therefore, if another motorist collides with you, he or she will be entirely responsible for the accident. The motorist will also be liable for all the victims' expenses.
Furthermore, a manufacturer can be held liable for a car rollover accident if the faults in the automobile led to the crash. If, for example, defective tires caused a vehicle to roll over, or if the sides and roof could not withstand the force of the accident, the manufacturer of the faulty part would be held accountable.
The federal government established new regulations for vehicle roofs in 2013. Even though a few pre-2013 vehicles have a more solid roof, all car manufacturers were mandated to have reinforced and solid roofs on their vehicles by 2017. Vehicle manufacturers whose products lack the recommended roof could be held liable in the event of a rollover accident.
Holding Vehicle Manufacturers Responsible for Rollover Crashes
Most people are unaware that they, too, can hold vehicle manufacturers responsible for their negligence in how they market, build, sell, or design their vehicles. However, under California law, victims are not required to prove who was personally responsible for the faults.
Strict liability serves the parties responsible for manufacturing, designing, and selling the products. As a result, the vehicle's manufacturer, dealership, or distributor would be held liable for any injuries and damages sustained from the defective automobile.
Since the individual who purchased the vehicle doesn't know how the automobile was designed and developed, he or she can pursue a product liability case without proving that any individual or organization acted negligently.
Therefore, if a vehicle’s defect caused a rollover accident, the victim could seek compensation for the following:
- Defects in the manufacturing process
- Design defects
- Failure to disclose defects to the victim
In this case, the victim needs to prove that the automobile was faulty or that the manufacturer did not provide sufficient warnings. When filing a personal injury lawsuit, the victim must demonstrate that:
- The accused created, produced, promoted, sold, or distributed a defective automobile
- The automobile was already faulty when it left the accused's possession
- The victim was injured or harmed as a result of the vehicle's defect
- The plaintiff operated the vehicle reasonably
Injuries and Damages Sustained in Rollover Car Accidents
While rollover incidents are more uncommon than other types of car accidents, the consequences are usually devastating. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), rollover crashes account for fewer than 3% of all crashes and nearly one-third of all vehicle occupant fatalities.
Even when occupants use safety restraints, rollover accidents are often severe and result in multiple serious injuries. The severity of these injuries varies depending on several variables. This includes the type of automobile, airbags, seat belts, vehicle speed, the number of cars involved, the occupants' age, and the accident location, to name a few.
The high number of deaths and injuries following a rollover crash is due, in part, to the fact that most vehicles lack proper headers, roof strength, and supports. Furthermore, the roof gets easily destroyed in rollover accidents, which could also hurt the occupants in the vehicle. Rollovers often cause neck, spinal cord, and brain injuries. When a car rolls over, the fuel line or gas tank gets damaged, resulting in gasoline leaks. Rollover fires often lead to catastrophic burn injuries.
When an automobile flips, passengers are tossed around within the vehicle, causing them to hit the car's surfaces. When people are exposed to dangers from several directions, they are more likely to suffer significant injuries. Other people get trapped inside the wreckage. Furthermore, the longer the individuals remain stuck, the more catastrophic their injuries and wounds, including sustaining severe burns or bleeding to death. The consequences of rollover accidents would also be determined by how swiftly the rescue teams act to free the passengers and provide them with medical attention.
While wearing seat belts reduces the danger of being ejected, some people could still be thrown as the motor vehicle rolls over, crushing them between the automobile and the ground. Occupants who are completely ejected from a moving vehicle could sustain permanent injuries or succumb to them if they hit the ground or nearby objects such as rocks or trees.
The following are some of the most common types of injuries sustained in rollover accidents:
- Head trauma
- Spinal cord injuries
- Neck injury
- Internal organ damage
- Back injury
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Bone fractures
- Internal injuries
- Loss of a limb
Filing a Claim Following a Rollover Accident
A rollover accident victim who sustains injuries can pursue a personal injury claim against the party or parties responsible for the incident. If a negligent motorist caused the crash, he or she would be liable for any damage. If a faulty automobile component caused the incident, the distributor, manufacturer, or seller would be held accountable for the damages.
In a deadly rollover crash, the deceased's surviving family members could pursue a wrongful death case. The deceased family can use this type of claim to hold the individual liable for the death responsible for their conduct and seek compensation for losing their beloved one.
After a rollover car crash, compensation is owed to restore the wounded individual to the position he or she would have been if the accident had not occurred. Money can't necessarily resolve a victim's situation or bring back a lost loved one. However, it could assist those affected find closure and enable them to cover related costs. Rollover accident lawsuits would often result in economic and non-economic damages.
Economic damage involves monetary losses, such as hospital expenditures or lost wages. Non-economic damages are meant to compensate the victim for non-monetary injuries, like suffering and pain or having to cope with the scars for the rest of their life.
Some of the losses that you could recover in rollover accident cases include the following:
- Ambulance bills
- Surgical expenses
- Suffering and pain
- Healthcare expenses
- Prescription drugs
- Medical supplies
- In-home care
- Lost income
- Loss of consortium
- Emotional distress
- Loss of enjoyment
- Court fees
Securing compensation from the responsible party can be challenging, and that’s where a car accident attorney can come in handy. After an accident occurs, you need to speak with your lawyer without delay. In most situations, the victim's prompt action will determine how a case turns out.
You might anticipate your insurer to assist you in getting your life back. The main problem is that insurance providers often prioritize their financial line and would steadfastly refuse, postpone, or reduce the recovery rate amount. Your personal injury attorney will examine the case and devise a strategy for calculating the compensatory damages due to the accident.
Legal Defenses in a Rollover Accident Case
If you've got a good case, you could be able to prevail in a personal injury lawsuit against a renowned automotive corporation or any other cunning defendant. However, most defendants may raise several defenses to evade being held accountable and paying out compensation in a personal injury lawsuit.
Some of the common rollover accident defenses include:
- The automobile was not faulty as designed
- The car manufacturer was unaware of any flaws with the motor vehicle
- The victim caused the crash
- The victim drove the automobile in an unexpected manner
- The plaintiff mishandled the vehicle
- The manufacturer detected no manufacturing faults
If it is determined that the victim was responsible for the accident, he or she would still be entitled to compensation. This is possible under California's comparative fault legislation, which permits the victim to receive compensation even if he or she was partially to blame for the tragedy. However, you could reduce the damages based on the victim's level of liability.
For example, if the victim is 30% responsible for the rollover accident and the vehicle manufacturer is 70% responsible for failing to notify customers about the risk of rollover, the victim would be entitled to 70% of the damages from the vehicle manufacturer.
Pursuing a Wrongful Death Claim
Rollover car accidents have higher fatality rates when compared with other types of crashes. Unfortunately, if a spouse, child, or close relative succumbs to a rollover car crash, he or she cannot sue and hold the offender liable.
However, surviving relatives and loved ones can pursue a wrongful death claim against the motorist or the vehicle manufacturer to make them answerable for their actions. Some family members are entitled to initiate a wrongful death lawsuit under California law. These individuals include:
- The deceased's partner or spouse
- Grandchildren where the children are deceased
- Anyone else who would be eligible to inherit the deceased person's property
In a wrongful death case, compensation includes monetary and non-monetary damages incurred by the family and loved ones due to their loss. This involves damages for:
- Financial loss to the deceased's family regarding the lost income and future earnings
- Costs associated with burial and funeral
- Non-economic compensation for loss of companionship, affection, or support.
How a Personal Injury Lawyer Can Help
Rollover accidents can be costly and challenging to prosecute. You'll need a competent lawyer who can bring in accident reconstruction experts and other professionals as required to bolster your case.
Assess the Vehicle’s Stability Under Federal Standards
Your personal injury lawyer will guide you through the federal requirements governing vehicle safety and stability. Federal standards for a vehicle's stability are usually complicated, and a lawyer should fully grasp them in addition to the automobile testing the manufacturers perform. A professional lawyer will also know the various consequences of car manufacturers' stability control testing methodologies and processes.
When a car rolls over, manufacturers are usually quick to vindicate themselves by claiming that they followed the eligibility requirements stated in federal regulations. However, your lawyer can raise this defense, particularly if the car manufacturer fails to perform the required vehicle-stability tests.
Carries Out the Investigation On Your Behalf
Your attorney begins investigating your injuries and damages after the tragedy. You would gather information from the pristine accident scene if you spoke with an attorney as soon as possible following the crash. It would reveal the crucial facts the lawyer and reconstruction specialists needed to determine the leading cause of the accident.
Gather Information From Witnesses and Experts
Manufacturers vehemently oppose such cases. You'll require the assistance of an experienced and qualified attorney. The car manufacturers and their specialists strive to demonstrate that the vehicle occupant was injured owing to circumstances other than their product's stability.
The manufacturer could blame the impact of the collision or the vehicle's speed. Your personal injury lawyer would use expert witnesses to bolster your claim. They can show how the crash caused or exacerbated the injuries. This denies the manufacturer the option to deny responsibility for a rollover accident.
Prove the Vehicle’s Malfunction
If you sustained injuries from being ejected from a car after a rollover crash, the reason could still be a flawed vehicle's stability. Most ejections in rollover crashes are caused by car roof collapse. For example, seat belts and airbags cannot work correctly if a car roof collapses. The car's windows may shatter, forcing you to fly out of the automobile. Your personal injury lawyer can demonstrate before the judge that the ejection resulted from a rollover rather than failure to wear a safety belt.
Compensation for Rollover Accident Damages
If you get injured in a rollover crash, you're entitled to compensation for the injuries and damages sustained. You can detail the injuries you could have incurred as a result of the event with the assistance of a seasoned personal injury lawyer. Damages that you would be compensated for include the following:
If you sustain serious injuries, you will require extensive healthcare soon. Fatal injuries sustained from rollover accidents may necessitate ongoing treatment for the rest of your life. You'll need to consult with a medical professional to determine whether you would require long-term care.
Your personal injury attorney will develop a lifetime healthcare plan that covers all of the medical treatments you will need in the future. You should evaluate all medical expenses, including rehabilitation and medication costs.
Loss of Earnings
Injuries sustained in rollover accidents may impair your future ability to make a living. Loss of potential earnings, or the incapacity to earn income in the future, is eligible for compensation under California law. Compensation, in this case, differs from person to person. The courts would consider the amount you used to make before the tragedy occurred. They will also consider your age and the period you have left before retirement.
Loss of Life's Enjoyment
You might be unable to enjoy your life as much as you did before the crash if you sustained injuries. For example, you could be unable to participate in sports or other hobbies. You might be unable to participate in recreational activities.
You would also need help to go to your favorite amusement venues. Infections and medical issues will become more common. Additionally, the injuries could reduce your life expectancy. You should claim damages for your loss of pleasure of life due to these factors.
Pain and Suffering
Injuries sustained in rollover accidents can cause excruciating suffering and pain. With the assistance of a lawyer, you would be able to receive recompense for your suffering and pain incurred as a result of the injuries from the accident. Long-term or short-term health problems would have an impact on your quality of life.
You would need to take some time off work after sustaining injuries from a rollover crash. Given that you cannot work anymore, you would be entitled to receive compensation for all past, present, and future wages.
The court would factor in your hourly earning rate when calculating the lost earnings. The court could also consider any commissions you would have received at work and additional perks like bonuses. Your compensation will vary based on the time you spend outside your workplace.
Find a Sacramento Personal Injury Lawyer Near Me
A personal injury lawyer could analyze your situation and discuss your legal options if you sustained serious injuries from a rollover car accident. We at the Foos Gavin Law Firm understand your troubles and want you to know that you are not alone.
Our personal injury attorneys serve the city of Sacramento. Call us today at 916-779-3500 to speak with one of our lawyers. Our team is ready 24/7 to defend your rights.