What should I do in case of a roll over accident?

In a crash, the higher lift, stiff framework and steel-panel construction of SUVs can overpower the crash protections designed into other vehicles, making them hazardous for their own occupants and other motorists in two-vehicle crashes. But the vehicles' high profile and narrow track width makes SUVs very prone to rollovers and roof crushes, another factor in an already dangerous circumstance. Because the typical SUV also has a weak roof and poor crash protection, this combination of design hazards place SUV occupants at a high risk of death or paralysis. Despite the countless protests and expressions of concern from safety advocates and members of Congress over the past two decades, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has failed to establish a standard for rollover and roof crush prevention, instead implementing a weak consumer information program. Although rollover and roof crush crashes are not among the top types of crashes, accounting for only four percent of all crashes, the death toll from these rollover and roof crush crashes account for a third of all highway motor vehicle fatalities, and is sixty percent of the deaths in SUVs.

Roof pillars are the vertical portions of your automobile in between the windshield and windows that connect the lower body to the roof. These pillars, to the average person, look very sturdy, but in fact, they are constructed from sheet metal, either folded or molded with a hollow center. Import automobiles, shown through testing, have reinforced pillar designs, utilizing baffle plates and rigid foam, each of which can triple their strength to withstand impact forces of a rollover and roof crush. Safer designs, not limited to import vehicles, are also made up of closed sections (like an “O” rather than a “C”) and use solid tubular steel for windshield headers, roof side rails, and lateral cross-members, connected with reinforcing gussets, triangular devices that reinforce the joints between two separate frame parts.

Rollover and roof crush crashes are not always fatal, but are often serious. The impact forces in a rollover are spread out over a period of a few of seconds and because of this are less in severity than other types of collisions and accidents, such as frontal and side impact accidents. These types of facts suggests that rollover and roof crush accidents are dangerous because of design flaws and lack of safety consciousness during the design process. Vehicle roofs are so flimsy that when the full weight of the car is pressed into the roof structure, the vehicle's weight forces a roof crush, collapsing the roof into occupants’ heads and spines, inflicting very serious and sometimes fatal injuries.

If you or a loved one were seriously injured in a rollover accident, the vehicle involved should be preserved for a thorough inspection and collection of evidence, which should determine the point of impact. A bio-medical or bio-mechanical expert should investigate the physical injuries and medical records.

Below is a list of common questions involving roll-over collisions:

  • Why are SUVs vulnerable to rollovers in a collision?
    During an accident or sudden change in movement, the forces that act on a passenger car tend to be transferred into a sideways sliding motion. An SUV, on the other hand, having a higher center of gravity makes it possible to convert this energy of motion into rotational forces. Any sudden change in movement, such as abrupt swerving to miss an accident, can cause the center of gravity to become displaced, creating instability and ideal conditions for a rollover.

  • What are the major factors that contribute to a rollover?
    • A high rate of speed

    • The absence of protective guardrails on the road
    • Poor weather conditions
    • Poor quality of the SUVs tires including spare tires
    • A driver under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs
  • Why are SUV manufacturers not implementing better safety features in their vehicles?
    SUVs with stability control systems have been shown to have less tendency to roll over. However, the majority of SUVs lack any type of stability control system. Lowering the center of gravity increasing the width of the wheel track can also increase the stability of SUVs, making them likelier to slide out than to roll over. Unfortunately these design changes can be costly, which keeps manufacturers reluctant to make any changes.

  • What do I do if I am the victim of an SUV rollover accident?
    • First and foremost, seek immediate and proper medical attention. Though you may feel like there are no injuries, some injuries do not become apparent until days or weeks later, like back injuries for instance.

    • Second, as with any other accident, report the accident to law enforcement and your insurance company. Do not tell the insurance anything except that the accident has occurred. If there is another vehicle involved in your accident, get their information, such as names, license number, tag number, insurance company and policy numbers. You are not required to make a report to their insurance company, and making a statement before speaking with an attorney could hinder any compensation that you could be entitled to.
    • Finally, consult an attorney as soon as possible. Evidence disappears from our roadways rather quickly. The memory of a witness soon fades. It is important to consult an attorney when facts are still fresh in your mind.

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