SUVs are popular vehicles with sales having trended higher each year over the past decade, including sales in Massachusetts. In 2016, SUV sales accounted for 63% of all vehicle sales in America. People buy these vehicles because they are larger than conventional passenger vehicles, are roomier, and seemingly safer for their children. Unfortunately, these vehicles have a troubling history of rollover accidents with a high percentage of fatalities and serious injuries.
Statistics from the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety (IIHS) show that fatalities involving SUV rollover accidents are actually increasing. About 15% of persons killed in SUVs in Massachusetts are from rollovers where they may have been crushed inside the vehicle, thrown against the door, window or into another occupant, or ejected.
Most vehicle ejections occur because the occupants were not wearing seatbelts. Massachusetts motorists are consistently among the worst users of seat belts when compared to all other states. Consider that you are 30-times more likely to be ejected from any vehicle if unrestrained and have a 75% chance of suffering fatal injuries as a result. Of all people killed in rollover accidents, nearly 60% were ejected from their vehicle.
SUVs Are Prone to Rollovers
Why are SUVs so susceptible to rollover accidents? There are a variety of reasons:
- These vehicles are top-heavy with a high center of gravity
- They have increased height and weight
- Hitting “trips”—this occurs when an SUV driver suddenly jerks the wheel to avoid a collision or strikes a curb, median or guardrail at a high rate of speed with the vehicle becoming airborne. Around 95% of rollovers occur in this fashion.
- Collisions with other vehicles—an SUV that collides on its side with another vehicle may tip it over- this is the cause of 20% of rollover accidents
- Distracted driving—when distracted, you risk losing control of the vehicle. Distractions include use of a smartphone, looking out the window, talking, grooming, eating or any other activity that takes your eyes and attention off the road
- Poor weather—icy, snowy weather can cause slipping and sliding causing drivers to jerk the steering wheel or overcompensating that leads to rollovers
- Uneven road surfaces
The SUVs most vulnerable to rollovers are Ford Broncos, Isuzu Troopers, and Mitsubishi Monteros. Besides SUVs, other vehicles involved in rollover accidents are buses, large and light trucks.
Legal Action in an SUV Accident
Rollover accidents nearly always result in serious injuries if not death. You should always contact an experienced car accident lawyer in a SUV rollover case or any other injury accident since there are often hidden factors that caused the accident, and possibly other responsible parties.
If you were a passenger and your accident did not involve another vehicle, your car accident lawyer can investigate the conduct of the driver of the SUV you were in. For example, was the driver using his cellphone, engaged in grooming, speeding, under the influence, or otherwise driving negligently?
Other possible causes of the accident could be the design of the roadway, the condition of the tires, or a defect in the vehicle’s steering or braking. A product liability claim would be brought against the SUV manufacturer, or whichever party was responsible for the defective tire or other equipment.
It is also possible that your SUV was the subject of a recall campaign. Since 2016, the IIHS has reported that many mid-size SUVs have inadequate headlights. Other recall campaigns concerning SUVs have involved faulty brakes. If you have an SUV, you should investigate whether it is the subject of a recall and have the matter taken care of. If you did not personally receive a recall advisory or the seller of the vehicle neglected to advise you, then you may have a claim against the SUV manufacturer or the seller.
If the roadway itself was defective in its design or maintenance, which is the responsibility of the state or local municipality, then you have 2-years from the date of the accident to present your claim to the appropriate public agency. The public entity has 6-months to accept or reject the claim. A filing in court must be brought within 3-years of the incident.
If another vehicle was involved whose driver contributed to the accident, then you may bring a claim against that motorist along with any other responsible party.
Damages in SUV Rollover Accidents
Damages in any injury claim depend on the nature and extent of your injuries. These may include:
- Past and future medical expenses
- Past and future income loss
- Loss of earning capacity
- Diminished quality of life
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
- Spousal claim for loss of consortium
In a wrongful death case, the administrator for the decedent’s estate may bring a claim against the at-fault driver on behalf of the decedent’s immediate family members. Damages in wrongful death claims typically include:
- Funeral and burial expenses
- Medical expenses incurred before death
- Lost earnings the decedent would have earned over his/her lifetime
- Pain and suffering if the decedent was observed to have consciously suffered before succumbing
- Loss of the decedent’s love, companionship, counsel, and guidance
- Punitive damages if the defendant’s conduct was grossly negligent or willful and wanton
Retain a Car Accident Lawyer at Tetzel Law
If you or a loved one sustained injuries or was killed in a rollover accident, you will need the skill and knowledge of an experienced car accident lawyer at Tetzel Law. Call at (617) 742-1700 to schedule a free consultation about your injury claim.