Rollover – A Life-Threatening Accident

Jun 18

About 24,000 cases of serious injuries and 10,000 deaths, all due to rollover accidents, are reported to the US Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) every year.

According to the website of the Tennessee personal injury attorneys at Pohl and Berk, a rollover accident, wherein a vehicle rolls onto its side or roof, can be life-threatening like head-on collisions. The effect can be worse if the driver were speeding prior to the accident, and still much worse if the vehicle’s roof collapses and crashes down on the driver’s and passengers’ head and spine, resulting to serious head and spinal injuries.

A vehicle, which is prone to oversteering, especially when making a sharp turn, or understeering (or turn less sharply), can rollover. More susceptible to rollover accidents, however, are pickups, passenger vans and SUVs which are vehicles designed with a high ground clearance or a high center of gravity but with a narrow track width as shown by the distance between their left and right wheels. Vehicles designed this way have lesser stability and reduced steering capacity, and these are further reduced if the weight of the passengers and cargo (whether these are placed inside or on top of the vehicle) are not equally distributed.

Analysis of data (on car accidents) made by the NHTSA show that speed (above 55mph) and alcohol intoxication are major contributory factors to rollover accidents. However, despite this statistical information, speed and alcohol may only be considered as secondary factors, the first being the vehicle’s faulty manufacturing design.

If a vehicle with a high ground clearance and narrow track width corners too sharply or drives down a steep slope, it can easily fail to remain upright or slide sideways and so, rollover, as a result. In addressing the problems of stability and steering control and help ensure driver safety in the process, giant car manufacturers introduced the Electronic Stability Control (ESC) system, also known as electronic stability program (ESP) or dynamic stability control (DSC), a computerized safety device that helps improve vehicle stability by reducing chances of skidding or loss of traction. This safety device consists of sensors that are able to detect loss of vehicle control, automatically applying brakes on each wheel, if it does so, to enable the driver to steer the vehicle back on track. ESC also helps to keep the vehicle stable, especially during quick turns, improves traction and reduces chances of oversteering and understeering.

But while ESC may save a driver and other vehicle passengers from injuries or death in the event of a rollover, faulty manufacturing design will not. A rollover is a serious accident. Besides a threat to life, it also causes major damage to properties. It will definitely be in the best interest of rollover victims, therefore, if they contact a knowledgeable and experienced lawyer immediately to inquire about their legal rights and options in pursuing compensation for whatever damages they suffer.

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