If you or a loved one has recently been involved in a car accident, you understand the stress, frustrations, and confusion that comes in the aftermath. In addition to dealing with the frightening experience, there are medical bills, time missed from work, car repairs, possible mental anguish, and the ever-present dark cloud of litigation. And, if your crash was a rollover accident, the physical and mental injuries may be even more pronounced. What can you do to protect yourself? How will you get all of your medical and repair bills covered?
What is a rollover car accident?
A rollover accident is the type of car crash where one or more motor vehicles roll over to their side or to their roof. In the more harrowing accidents, the car may continue rolling over several times before coming to a complete stop.
What makes rollover accidents even scarier, is that because the vehicle turns over on its side and on its roof (sometimes, multiple times), the driver and passengers are thrown around inside the car, increasing the severity of injuries or likelihood of death. If a person is not wearing a seatbelt, they can also be ejected from the vehicle, which makes for an even more traumatic experience for everyone involved.
Common Causes of Rollover Car Accidents in Florida
The most common causes of rollover accidents are preventable — and many of them constitute traffic violations in the first place. These include:
Speeding: About 40% of rollover accidents are caused by speeding, and the vast majority of these casualties are a result of driving 55 miles an hour or more. If you’re driving a vehicle with a higher center of gravity — such as a sport utility vehicle (SUVs), minivans, pickup trucks, or bus — the risk is even greater.
Distracted Driving: When we think about distracted driving, the first image that usually comes to mind is of people texting. While this is true, there are other ways a person may momentarily stop paying attention to the road. This includes but is not limited to checking the GPS for directions, changing the radio station, looking away from the road to read a billboard, and turning around or looking in the rearview mirror because children are misbehaving. All of these distractions lend themselves to a lack of adequate reaction time if there’s suddenly a dangerous condition right ahead.
Driving Under the Influence: In Florida, driving with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.08 or over is considered to be driving under the influence. In addition to increasing the probability of speeding, sharp or erratic turns, failing to stop at signals and street signs, and driving under the influence may also result in fines or imprisonment for the drunk driver.
Driving on Rural Roads: City roads tend to have barriers separating lanes from oncoming traffic or ditches on the side of the roadways. This makes it more likely for a motor vehicle to stop upon impact. Meanwhile, rural roads may lack those types of barricades, making it harder for drivers to see turns, curves, or the end of a road if it’s dark outside when there are no set boundaries on the side of the road. In fact, even though urban areas are more densely populated, the majority of car accident fatalities occur in rural areas.
Types of Rollover Accidents
There are several types of rollover accidents. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 95% of rollover accidents are known as tripped rollovers.
Tripped Rollovers: This type of accident occurs when there’s an actual object that causes a car to trip and roll over. For example, a guardrail, soft soil, curb, or any other object on the road.
Untripped Rollovers: In this type of accident, there is nothing that bumps against a car’s tires. The culprit could be:
- Driving at high speeds
- Weaving in and out of traffic erratically
- Turning or taking curves without slowing down
- Sharp turn of the steering wheel to avoid a collision
- Driving with bald tires
Other causes that are independent of driver negligence include:
- Brakes that malfunction
- Defective or overworn tires
- Mechanical car problems
- Poor road conditions
- Extreme weather
- Excessive weight loads in trucks
What to do After a Rollover Car Accident
The first thing to do after a rollover accident is to shut off the engine. This may reduce the chances of an explosion. However, since neither driver or passenger can completely eliminate the risk of fire, everyone in the car needs to figure out a way to get out. Granted, this will depend on the extent of injuries. If at all possible, get out of the car.
It’s possible for windows and doors to be locked after such a serious impact, so it’s always a good idea to carry a window punch tool in your vehicle. You can purchase them at any hardware store or online. Once out of the car, call 911 if the phone is with you.
How is fault determined in rollover car accidents?
Every car accident is different, and there are many variables when it comes to determining who’s at fault. All of the pieces of the puzzle can start coming together after the crash, when you start taking into account all of the relevant circumstances. Parties who may be at fault include:
- You, if you were speeding, driving under the influence, or otherwise distracted
- Another driver who was speeding or otherwise negligent
- A car manufacturer, if they placed a defective vehicle in the stream of commerce
- A mechanic, if they failed to fix a mechanical issue they were hired to fix
- The Department of Transportation, if the roads were in disrepair or needed additional lighting or signage
To determine who was at fault, you have to take into account whether any driver was negligent. This can be determined by blood alcohol level tests, surveillance videos, witness testimony, and/or the testimony of an accident reconstruction expert. If a third party could have been at fault, you would need to gather all relevant documentation to prove it.
Common Injuries in Rollover Accidents
Rollover accidents often result in catastrophic injuries or death. Among the most common injuries sustained in these type of accidents are:
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Spinal cord injuries
- Broken bones
- Lacerated skin and muscles
- Damage to internal organs
- Neck injuries
- Back injuries
How to Prevent Rollover Car Accidents
Preventing rollover accidents involves being vigilant, maintaining your vehicle in good condition, and complying with traffic regulations. Some examples include:
Mind the posted speed limit. In addition to driving at the permitted speed, keep in mind other factors, such as the flow of traffic, the size of other vehicles on the road — trucks need a wider berth to make turns and extra time to slow down — and slow down when you’re about to make a turn.
Mind factors outside of your control. Heavy rains, floods, and potholes are all things that could contribute to a traffic accident. If you’re driving and you notice anything that’s out of your control, slow down to a safer speed.
Maintain your car. Your windshield wipers, brakes, and tires should be in optimal conditions at all times. Take your car in for regular checkups — typically whenever you go in for an oil change — and have a mechanic ensure your car is safe to drive.
Keep your eyes on the road. Set your phone to silent while driving or set it to driving mode so that you’re not distracted by notifications. If your kids are being loud in the backseat, avoid turning around — even for a few seconds — to get them to behave. Avoid eating full meals, doing your makeup, and reading billboards. Keep your eyes on the road at all times.
Don’t drink and drive. There are plenty of ridesharing services, as well as taxis and public transportation. If you’re going to a social event as a group, designate a person who will consume no alcohol to get everyone home safe.
How can an attorney help after a rollover car accident?
An attorney can help by starting a process called discovery. This is when they can subpoena records and witnesses, take photographs of the scene of the accident if there are signs that the Department of Transportation failed to comply with their duty of care, and depose (take the sworn testimony) of medical providers, mechanics, car manufacturers, and any required expert. An experienced attorney would also help you negotiate a settlement. They can let you know when it would be unwise to make a statement or offer information that wasn’t requested. They would guide you every step of the way, protecting your best interest throughout litigation.
Call Clark Law If You’ve Been in a Car Accident in Tampa Bay
If you or someone you love has been involved in an accident, call us at (855) 680-4911 or schedule a free consultation. At Clark Law, we have experienced attorneys who regularly represent clients involved in motor vehicle accidents, and we can help you determine the best next step.
Disclaimer: This blog is for informational purposes only and does not create an attorney/client relationship.