Seeking Legal Help After a Rollover Accident
August 24, 2022
Rollover accidents are some of the most catastrophic crashes on the road, accounting for a disproportionately high percentage of traffic fatalities and injuries every year. If you or someone you love sustained injuries in a rollover accident, you may have the right to pursue legal action for compensation. Here is everything you need to know about rollovers and how an experienced car accident attorney can secure money to compensate you for the injuries and losses you suffered from a rollover accident.
What Is a Rollover Accident?
The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) defines a rollover as a crash involving “at least a 90-degree rotation about the longitudinal axis of a vehicle, regardless of whether the vehicle ends up laying on its side, roof, or even returning upright on all four wheels.”
According to NHTSA, rollovers account for just 1 to 2 percent of crashes in the United States annually but cause nearly 20 percent of traffic fatalities. Nearly three quarters of people who are killed in a rollover crash were not wearing seatbelts, and about two-thirds are ejected from the vehicle. Thus, the best way to protect yourself from serious injury is to wear your seatbelt at all times.
Most rollover accidents occur when a vehicle runs off the road and “trips” on a roadside feature like a soft shoulder, ditch, or curb. A small percentage of rollovers happen because of friction between a vehicle’s tires and the road surface, typically when the driver swerves suddenly in an attempt to avoid a collision. Rollovers can also occur when a vehicle strikes the side of another vehicle with significant force, such as in a T-bone crash.
Any vehicle can roll, but some do so more easily than others. The NHTSA explains that the height of a vehicle’s center of gravity and the width of its tire track impact the likelihood of it experiencing a rollover. Tractor-trailer trucks, box trucks, and sport utility vehicles (SUVs) tend to roll more frequently than other vehicles. Rollover crashes involving these vehicles have increased in recent years, while rollovers of passenger cars have decreased.
Rollovers tend to cause heavy vehicle damage and serious injury to vehicle occupants. A rollover can crush a vehicle’s roof, shatter its windows, and thrust structural components into the cabin. The force of the roll can violently jolt occupants, throw them around the cabin, or eject them from the vehicle.
Causes of Rollover Accidents
The mechanics of rollovers don’t necessarily explain why they happen. Something has to trigger a rollover.
More often than not, the root cause of a rollover crash involves a human error, such as:
- Drunk driving or drug-impaired driving, which can interfere with a driver’s ability to keep a vehicle in its lane;
- Distracted driving, such as texting, eating and drinking, or turning to talk to passengers;
- Drowsy driving and falling asleep at the wheel;
- Speeding, which accounts for almost 40 percent of all fatal rollover accidents, nearly 75 percent of which occur on roads with a speed limit of 55 miles per hour or more;
- Rough or uneven road surfaces resulting from construction or poor maintenance;
- Dangerous road design that promotes a loss of control, such as unmarked curves or steep shoulders;
- Lack of road safety features like guardrails and barriers;
- A vehicle defect like faulty brakes or a tire blowout;
- Oversteering or turning too quickly while traveling at higher speeds;
- A collision with another vehicle; and
- Improper loading or securing of cargo, causing an imbalance.
This is not an exhaustive list, but it shows that most rollovers happen because someone in a vehicle or responsible for the road made a dangerous mistake. In those cases, rollover crash victims frequently have the right to demand compensation from the party (or parties) at fault. An experienced car accident lawyer can help.
Rollover Accident Injuries
According to the NHTSA, more than 9,800 occupants of passenger cars and light trucks died in rollover accidents in 2020. That tragic tally represents one-third of all traffic deaths in those vehicles.
Individuals who survive rollover accidents rarely escape unscathed. A rollover will frequently result in severe injuries, including:
- Traumatic brain injuries (TBI), which may be mild or result in lifelong impairments;
- Life-threatening damage to vital organs and internal bleeding;
- Spinal cord injuries (SCI) resulting in paralysis;
- Crushed or traumatically amputated limbs and appendages;
- Deep lacerations resulting in blood loss, nerve damage, and scarring;
- Neck and back injuries causing chronic pain or permanent disabilities;
- Facial injuries leading to loss of vision and scarring;
- Broken bones, dislocated joints, and other orthopedic injuries; or
- Severe burns from a rolled-over vehicle catching fire.
No matter what type of injury you sustained in a rollover, there’s a good chance a skilled attorney can evaluate your losses and pursue compensation on your behalf.
Potential Compensation for Rollover Accident Victims
Victims of rollover accidents—both drivers and passengers—often have the right to take legal action seeking money damages for the losses they sustained in the crash. Generally, the law permits crash victims to demand payment from anyone whose dangerous, reckless, or intentional actions caused the rollover.
Parties who may be liable for causing a rollover can include the driver of the vehicle you are riding in, another motorist, the manufacturer of a defective car or car part, or a government entity responsible for building and maintaining safe roads.
The unique facts of each rollover accident case determine the specific types and amounts of compensation victims can seek. In Michigan, a large portion of the economic damages will be covered by your no-fault insurer. Non-economic damages and any economic damages not covered by your insurance can be recovered from the at-fault party if you suffer a severe injury that impacts your ability to live your normal life, even temporarily.
Economic damages consist of expenses and financial losses flowing from the crash and the harm it caused, such as:
- Medical expenses for treating crash-related injuries and related health complications
- The cost of rehabilitative therapies (physical, occupational, etc.)
- Lost wages and reduced earning capacity
- The cost to repair or replace damaged property
- Expenses connect to adapting to or living with crash injuries, such as childcare or transportation services;
- Any other costs directly resulting from the rollover crash.
Non-economic damages pay for all other types of harm a victim might suffer because of a rollover accident, including:
- Physical pain and discomfort
- Loss of mobility or bodily functions
- Emotional suffering and mental health challenges
- Embarrassment, humiliation, or mortification
- Loss of companionship
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Loss of independence
- Scarring and disfigurement
Rollover accident victims may not realize the scope and extent of the damages they have the right to recover. An experienced car accident attorney can identify every aspect of their lives that has been impacted because of the crash, then take legal action to secure maximum compensation.
Rollover Accident Lawsuit Time Limits
A law called the statute of limitations sets a deadline on your right to sue the at-fault party (or parties) for damages. If you miss this deadline, you could forever lose your right to compensation.
Claims against the various parties who may be at fault for a rollover accident ahve different statutes of limitations. Some claims also require notice by a certain deadline, which can be as short as 60 days after a crash. An experienced attorney knows these deadlines and can make sure to preserve your rights. Contact an attorney as soon as possible after you or a loved one are injured in a crash to ensure that all of the time limits can be met.
Protect Your Rights After a Rollover Accident
The steps you take in the days, weeks, and months after getting hurt in a rollover accident can significantly affect your legal rights and financial future. Consider following these tips to protect yourself and your ability to pursue compensation.
Get Immediate Medical Treatment
Seek medical attention immediately after getting into a rollover crash, even if you think you avoided severe injury. Medical professionals can examine you to determine whether you suffered trauma such as a traumatic brain injury, which might otherwise take days or more to show symptoms and can worsen. Never trust your ability to diagnose your own injuries during the stressful, upsetting hours and days after a rollover.
Medical care protects both your health and your legal rights. Providers generate records of your care that prove your injuries and their cause. Seeking care also prevents insurers and defense lawyers from blaming you for allowing your injuries to get worse.
Avoid Social Media
While it may seem normal to vent on social media or online forums about your rollover accident, it is not a good idea.
When you put information about the crash on the internet, you risk giving the at-fault party a reason to refuse to compensate you for your losses. That party’s insurance company and defense lawyers will seize on any information they find on social media and try to twist it into a justification for paying you less than you deserve or nothing at all.
Don’t Agree to a Settlement or Sign Anything From an Insurance Company
The party at fault for your rollover probably carries insurance to cover at least some of your damages. But that doesn’t mean the party or insurer will pay you willingly.
In addition to looking for reasons to refuse to pay you, they may also try to trick you into agreeing to take less money than the law permits you to demand.
If an insurance company or defense lawyer offers you a settlement of your rollover accident claim, review it with a lawyer. Odds are the amount they put on the table will fall far short of what you need to pay your expenses and move forward with your life.
Never agree to settle your case and never sign anything from an insurance company without first consulting with a knowledgeable attorney. In most cases, a lawyer can handle the negotiations with insurers and defense lawyers on your behalf and get you far more than what was initially offered.
Contact a Lawyer ASAP
Connect with a car accident lawyer about your rollover accident immediately. The sooner you have a lawyer on your side protecting your interests, the better your chances of securing payment for your expenses and losses. Gruel Mills offers free, no-obligation consultations for rollover victims like you, so consulting with us won’t cost you a dime.
Waiting to talk to a lawyer carries significant risks. You could unintentionally sacrifice your rights by missing an important deadline. Or you could fall victim to an aggressive insurance company’s or defense lawyer’s tactics. But once a lawyer represents you, you are protected from those risks.
How a Lawyer Can Help After a Rollover Accident
A skilled car accident lawyer can provide a wide range of services to victims of rollover accidents. Chief among them is handling the entire process of pursuing financial compensation for crash-related injuries and losses. That process may require the lawyer to gather evidence, prepare and submit insurance claims, file lawsuits, negotiate settlements, and go to court to enforce the victim’s rights.
But a skilled lawyer can also play other important roles in helping a victim rebound from a rollover accident. For example, a lawyer can act as a trusted advisor when an injured victim or victim’s family member faces a difficult decision affecting their legal and financial interests. A lawyer can also serve as a victim’s personal representative in dealings with law enforcement, the media, and others.
In short, a lawyer lends critical legal services, support, and guidance to a rollover accident victim, representing only the victim’s interests and fighting to see justice done and compensation paid.
Contact a Car Accident Lawyer Today
If you or someone you love suffered significant harm in a rollover accident, do not delay getting the legal help you need. Contact the experienced car accident attorneys at Gruel Mills today for your free case evaluation and to learn about your rights and options for obtaining compensation.