A woman was killed after being trapped under an SUV in a rollover crash. The Tuesday morning crash occurred at an intersection in South Seattle, and involved the SUV getting struck by another vehicle. The collision caused the SUV to roll, trapping the woman—who was a pedestrian near the scene—between the car and the pavement. Medics attempted to revive the woman, but she ultimately was declared dead at the scene. A witness to the accident said that, shortly before the collision, the traffic signals at the intersection had changed from normal to flashing red. Police were still working to determine the exact cause of the accident at the time the report was published.
If were injured in a rollover accident caused by another person’s carelessness or recklessness, you may be eligible to receive compensation for your injuries. An experienced car accident attorney can explain the process to you.
Rollover Accidents Explained
A rollover accident is one that involves a vehicle tipping over onto its side or rolling completely over until it is upside down. In some cases, the car may roll over multiple times before it comes to rest. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Association (NHTSA), rollover accidents are relatively rare—accounting for only about 2 percent of all traffic crashes in the United States. However, they are a particularly deadly type of accident, accounting for nearly 35 percent of all traffic-related fatalities. Rollover accidents may involve a single vehicle, or they made involve multiple vehicles, and they result in the loss of more than 7,000 lives a year.
There are two types of rollover accidents:
- Tripped rollovers, which account for 95 percent of single-car rollover accidents. A tripped rollover occurs when the vehicle leaves the roadway and something trips it to cause it to roll over. The trip may be soft soil that the tires dig into, or it may be something such as a curb, median, or guardrail.
- Untripped rollovers are the more rare of the two types of rollovers, accounting for only about 5 percent. This type of rollover generally involves a top-heavy vehicle and a high-speed collision avoidance maneuver, such as swerving to avoid rear-ending a vehicle that turned onto the roadway without having an ample gap in traffic.
What Causes a Vehicle to Rollover?
Any vehicle is capable of rolling over if the circumstances are right, including:
- The type of vehicle involved. Vehicles with a high center of gravity or those that are top-heavy are most likely to experience a rollover, particularly an untripped rollover involving speed and a collision avoidance maneuver or even a sharp curve in the road. Some of the common culprits in rollover accidents are SUVs, pickup trucks, vans, and commercial trucks.
- Speeding, which makes it harder to control one’s vehicle and reduces the reaction time that one has between perceiving a hazard and coming to a safe stop. This reduced time to react can result in an over-correction or a sudden swerve that can cause the vehicle to roll. Speeding is a factor in approximately 40 percent of all rollover accidents. A Seattle rollover accident caused a car to virtually disintegrate and its driver to suffer severe injuries due to excessive speed. The driver suffered an apparent medical emergency before the crash, causing him to lose control of the vehicle.
- Too much tire grip, which can lead to excessive sideways forces. This is particularly relevant for SUVs and pickup trucks outfitted with sporty aftermarket tires that provide more grip than the tires that the vehicle had on it when it was first purchased.
- Not enough tire grip due to excessively worn tires. This can reduce the car’s ability to grip the road, resulting in skidding.
- Where the accident occurs. Rollover accidents are more common on rural roadways in which there is only one lane per direction of travel and a higher posted speed limit. A 70-year-old man was killed in a rollover crash on State Route 162 after he failed to negotiate a curve. His vehicle rolled over into a ditch and was discovered partially submerged in the water.
- Overloading the vehicle, which places strain on the tires, makes the vehicle harder to maneuver, and can cause top-heavy vehicles to tip over if the load is unbalanced or shifts during transport.
- Alcohol. Nearly half of all rollover crashes involve an impaired driver. Alcohol impairment reduces many of the skills needed for the safe operation of a motor vehicle, including speed control and the ability to perceive and respond to hazards on the roadway. A woman suspected of driving under the influence of alcohol abandoned her vehicle after a rollover accident, leaving behind her injured twin sister in the wreckage. The rollover occurred when the vehicle that the woman was driving allegedly left the roadway for an unknown reason.
- Curved roads or exit ramps, in combination with excessive speed and a top-heavy vehicle, can greatly increase one’s risk of being involved in a rollover crash.
- An accident in which one vehicle serves as a “trip” to another vehicle, resulting in a rollover. A hotel shuttle bus near SeaTac Airport rolled over after allegedly being struck head on by a passenger vehicle that had crossed the median into oncoming traffic. One person died and several more were injured.
- Fatigue, which can cause a driver to drift off of the road, increasing the chance that the vehicle will roll over.
- Icy or wet roads. A charter bus full of University of Washington band members lost control on an ice-covered stretch of Interstate 90 and rolled over on its side. The crash resulted in injuries to nearly 40 people 120 miles southeast of Seattle.
Injuries Associated With Rollover Accidents
Rollovers are particularly violent accidents that often result in serious or catastrophic injuries. The severity of the injuries one suffers often depends on whether or not the vehicle’s occupants were wearing their seat belts at the time of the collision, as failure to do so places one at risk of being ejected from the vehicle. Some of the injuries often suffered by the victims of rollover accidents include:
- Traumatic brain injuries, either from being ejected from the vehicle or from striking one’s head on an object inside of the vehicle as it is rolling over. Traumatic brain injuries can be life-altering, producing deficits such as an inability to walk, communicate, or recall events. Many individuals suffering this type of injury require round-the-clock care as they are no longer able to accomplish routine daily tasks on their own.
- Spinal cord injuries, which can be life-threatening and may result in full or partial paralysis of the limbs or even tetraplegia, which is the loss of sensation and function in all of the limbs, the torso, and the pelvis.
- Broken bones, often caused by ejection, striking the body against objects within the vehicle as it is rolling, or even getting limbs crushed beneath the vehicle.
- Internal damage, such as punctured lungs resulting from broken ribs, or other damaged organs due to the force of the collision or from striking external objects after being ejected from the vehicle.
How to Avoid a Rollover Accident
While it is impossible to control the actions of other drivers that may result in an accident, there are some things you can do to avoid a rollover, or to survive it if you experience one:
- Always wear a seat belt, even if you’re only going for a short drive. Seat belts allow you to remain inside the vehicle during the accident, which is typically your best opportunity to avoid serious injury or even death due to being ejected. According to the NHTSA, nearly half of all the people killed in traffic-related crashes in the United States in one recent year weren’t wearing their seat belts. Seat belt use reduces your risk of death by up to 45 percent.
- When shopping for a vehicle, look for a newer car that has the benefit of improved safety equipment, including electronic stability control and side curtain airbags.
- Also look for a vehicle that is lower to the ground. Remember that vehicles with a higher center of gravity and a narrow base—such as SUVs, pickup trucks, or vans—have a higher risk of rolling over as well.
- Check the pressure on your tires. Under-inflated tires tend to run hotter than properly inflated tires, increasing the chance of a blowout that will make maneuvering your car very difficult. Over-inflated tires, while providing some degree of additional stability for the vehicle, are prone to severe damage by potholes and other irregularities in the road which could lead to loss of vehicle control.
- Watch your speed. The faster you’re going, the less time you have to respond appropriately to hazards in the roadway and the harder it is to maintain control of your vehicle.
- Don’t consume alcohol if you’re going to be driving, as impairment substantially increases your risk of any type of motor vehicle accident. By the same token, don’t drive if you’re overly tired. Fatigue produces similar symptoms as alcohol impairment in that it impacts your response time and your ability to control your speed.
- Be cautious when traveling on rural roadways that feature a lot of curves, few options for overtaking other vehicles, and a higher posted speed limit. Be alert for other drivers who may also be traveling the same roadway while not exercising the same measure of caution.
- Slow down for curves in the road. One of the primary causes of rollover accidents is loss of vehicle control due to excessive speed.
- Be aware of the conditions of the road. Wet roads reduce the traction that your vehicle’s tires can provide, sometimes resulting in a sideways skid that can be a precursor to a rollover.
- Allow enough space between your car and others on the roadway that you can stop for hazards without taking collision avoidance maneuvers that increase your risk of a rollover.
If You Were Injured in a Rollover, a Car Accident Lawyer Might Help You
If you were injured in a rollover accident that was caused by someone else’s negligence, you may seek compensation by filing a third-party insurance claim with the liable party’s insurance carrier or via a personal injury lawsuit. Washington residents generally have up to three years from the date of the accident to file a lawsuit. A car accident attorney can explain each of these options to you and help with your case, including:
Estimating the value of damages involved in your case based on the severity of the injuries you’ve suffered, the medical expenses you’ve incurred, and the impacts that your injury has had on your life and will have in the future.
- Examining the facts of your case to determine all sources of liability and all potential insurance resources that could be used to compensate you.
- Aggressively negotiating with the insurance company in an attempt to get you the highest settlement possible.
- Providing extensive knowledge of the legal process and your case so that you can make the most informed decision possible regarding accepting a proposed settlement or pursuing a lawsuit.
- Consulting with your doctors and other medical experts to provide an insurance company, a judge, or a jury with a valid glimpse as to your injuries and your prognosis.
- Representing you in court, including a timely filing of your lawsuit, adherence to all requirements involved in filing your claim, attendance at all pre-trial conferences and hearings, the presentation of your case, assistance in collecting any award you receive, and representation in an appeal, should one be filed.
Speaking with a skilled auto accident attorney can answer any other questions you may have regarding your car accident case but to learn more we also recommend reviewing some car accident statistics and FAQs.
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