You often see rollover accidents in movies, but may wonder if they happen in real life. These serious car crashes do happen all the time here in Williamsport and across Pennsylvania. While they’re perhaps more common among certain vehicles, they can involve almost any of them and often result in severe injuries and fatalities when they do occur.
Below, our car accident legal team at Stapp Law, LLC will discuss the common causes of rollover accidents. We will also talk about the injuries that most commonly stem from these collisions if you have the misfortune of becoming involved in a car accident like a rollover crash. Finally, we will address what to do if you are injured in a rollover accident, including finding a personal injury lawyer to help you get the compensation you deserve.
What Is a Rollover Collision?
A rollover accident is when a vehicle tips on its side or roof during a crash. The force of the collision determines if the car will roll just once or multiple times before coming to a stop.
Rollover accidents can involve one or more vehicles, but single-car accidents are the most common. These accidents often result in serious injuries—especially when vehicle occupants aren’t wearing seat belts or if the roof caves in.
How Often Do Rollover Accidents Occur?
According to the latest data published by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), approximately 42,915 fatalities occurred on American roads in 2021. While the percentage of those deaths that resulted from rollover crashes isn’t clear, the NHTSA confirms that this type of collision is the least prevalent type of accident, but among the most dangerous.
Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) data shows that rollovers accounted for 1.6% of the total accidents in 2020, yet at least 30% of traffic fatalities resulted from this type of crash. Research shows that the causes have more to do with the incident than the type of vehicle.
What Are the Common Causes of Vehicle Rollovers?
Many factors can contribute to a rollover accident, but driver error is often the culprit. However, according to a study published by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), rollover crashes can occur when a vehicle is involved in specific scenarios like:
- Flip-Over: A rollover occurs when a vehicle flips onto its side or roof. This is often the result of a collision with another car or object or overcorrecting while driving.
- Trip-Over: A tripped rollover happens when a vehicle is suddenly stopped or slowed. Usually, a vehicle’s wheels hit something in the road, causing it to go airborne and land on its side or roof. Common causes of tripped rollovers include potholes, guardrails, and curbs.
- Fall-Over: This rollover usually occurs when the vehicle falls over an embankment.
- Multi-Vehicle Collision: These rollovers often result from a high-speed collision between two or more vehicles. The force of the crash can cause one or both cars to roll over.
Types of Driver Error
As suggested above, driver error seems to be the most common cause of rollover incidents. Some of the following driver behaviors are most responsible for this type of accident:
- Distracted Driving: Distracted driving is any activity that diverts attention from operating a vehicle. Common distractions include talking or texting on your phone, eating and drinking, talking to passengers, fidgeting with the entertainment system, and daydreaming.
- Speeding: Speeding is a significant factor in rollover accidents. The faster you’re going, the more likely you’ll lose control of your vehicle, and the high center of gravity will shift.
- Aggressive Driving: Aggressive driving behaviors such as tailgating, weaving in and out of traffic, making improper lane changes, and speeding can all lead to rollovers.
- Improperly Loaded Cargo: If you’re carrying a lot of cargo, it can throw the weight distribution off, making your vehicle more likely to roll over. Truck crashes often occur when tractor-trailers don’t have their loads properly distributed or strapped in. This can cause them to flip over when taking turns, oftentimes crushing passenger cars in the process.
- Equipment Failure: In some cases, car rollover accidents are caused by either equipment failure or design flaws. The negligence of key figures like the owner, a mechanic, or even the manufacturer usually leads to failure.
- Road Conditions: A vehicle rollover accident can occur due to unsafe road conditions such as bad weather, construction, or debris. The hazardous situations might be caused by poor roadway maintenance, for which public authorities may be held responsible.
According to the IIHS, drivers in light or smaller vehicles are more susceptible to injury and death due to a weaker roof structure. Ultimately, pickup trucks and sports utility vehicles (SUVs) are the vehicles most likely to become involved in a fatal single-vehicle crash.
More Pennsylvania rollover accidents occur with these vehicles than others because:
- They’re taller: The higher the center of gravity, the more likely it is for a vehicle to roll over.
- They weigh more: The extra weight makes it harder for the driver to control the vehicle, especially on wet or slippery roads.
Common Injuries Associated With Rollover Accidents
The severity of injuries from a rollover accident often depends on the factors we’ve mentioned, such as the type of vehicle, speed, and road conditions. However, common injuries from rollovers that occur in and around Williamsport include:
- Brain & Spinal cord injuries: The force of a rollover accident can cause the spinal cord to become damaged, leading to partial or total paralysis. Head injuries are also common, and may range from concussions to traumatic brain injuries.
- Broken bones: The force of a rollover accident can cause broken bones, which can be particularly serious if they puncture the skin or become crushed.
- Internal bleeding: Organ damage may result in significant internal bleeding, which is a severe and potentially life-threatening condition that can occur after a rollover accident.
- Amputation: In some cases, the force of a rollover accident can cause a limb to be severed. Doctors may have no choice but to amputate, depending on the severity of the injury.
How a Personal Injury Lawyer Can Help Determine Your Options
A rollover accident can be traumatic, and you may feel overwhelmed. The last thing you want to do is deal with the legal aftermath of what happened while you’re trying to heal or grieve a loved one’s loss. This is why the first step to take after receiving medical attention for your severe injuries is to contact a car accident lawyer at Stapp Law, LLC to discuss your case.
A personal injury attorney from our Williamsport, PA office will help you understand your rights and legal options for fighting for the compensation you deserve. Your initial consultation with your car crash lawyer is free, so don’t hesitate to reach out to schedule an initial meeting today. You have nothing to lose in doing so; only something to gain.