In Washington’s most recent rollover accident, a woman was killed after being involved in a rollover collision. The crash occurred near the intersection of Southwest 356th Street and 8th Avenue Southwest in Federal Way. The woman, who was in her late 40s was pronounced dead at the scene. A man in the other vehicle was taken to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle with serious injuries. The police are still working to determine the exact cause of the accident at the time the report was published.
Deadly rollover crashes happen every year in Washington state. These accidents can result in serious injuries and be devastating for victims. If you 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.
A rollover accident 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 Administration (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 crash. The number of rollover accidents is increasing. Fatal rollover crashes are up nine percent from the previous year. Even though most rollovers involve a single vehicle, when a rollover car crash involves multiple vehicles, the chances of a fatality intensify. There are two types of rollover accidents:
Tripped rollovers account for 95 percent of single-vehicle rollovers. 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 rarer of the two types of car rollover accidents, accounting for only about 5 percent. Oftentimes untripped rollovers happen when a top-heavy vehicle engages in 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.
Rollover accidents occur for a variety of reasons. Any vehicle is capable of a car rollover accident if the circumstances are right. The following are some of the factors that increase rollover risk.
The type of vehicle involved. The vehicle’s center of gravity impacts the likelihood that the car rolls. 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 types of vehicles involved in rollovers are sport utility vehicles, light passenger cars, pickup trucks, vans, and commercial trucks.
Many fatal rollover accidents involve high speeds. Speeding makes it harder to control a vehicle. Driving too fast reduces the reaction time that a person has between perceiving a hazard and coming to a safe stop. If the driver loses control, 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 can lead to excessive sideways forces. This is particularly relevant for SUVs and pickup trucks outfitted with sporty aftermarket tires. Some aftermarket tires provide more grip than the original stock tires. The wrong tire for the terrain can be a factor in causing a rollover.
Not enough tire grip due to excessively worn tires. Not having enough grip is also a problem. Bald or worn tires reduce a car’s ability to grip the road, resulting in skidding that in turn leads to a rollover type of accident. The risk of having an accident with multiple injuries in a rollover increases in poor weather with bad tires.
Where the accident occurs. Rollovers occur more often on rural roadways in which there is only one lane per the 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. He was discovered by the Washington State Patrol with the car partially submerged in the water.
Overloading the vehicle, which places strain on the tires, makes the vehicle harder to maneuver, and can cause vehicle tips in top-heavy cars if the load is unbalanced or shifts during transport.
Alcohol. 30 percent 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 and distracted driving can cause a driver to drift off the road, increasing the chances of a vehicle rollover.
Icy or wet roads. A charter bus full of the 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.
These types of crashes are, particularly violent accidents, and rollover accidents result in serious or catastrophic injuries. The severity of the injuries to crash victims often depends on whether the vehicle’s occupants were wearing their seat belts at the time of the collision. Failing to put on a seatbelt increases the risk of being ejected from the car. Some of the injuries often suffered by the victims of rollover accidents include:
A traumatic brain injury can occur either from being ejected from the vehicle or from striking one’s head on an object inside of the car as it is rolling over. Traumatic brain injuries can be life-altering and can make life difficult by making it hard to walk, communicate, or recall events. Many individuals suffering from traumatic brain injury require round-the-clock care as they are no longer able to accomplish routine daily tasks on their own.
A spinal cord injury 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.
Limb damage is often caused by ejection, striking the body against objects within the vehicle as it is rolling, or even getting limbs crushed beneath the vehicle.
Organ and tissue damage might include punctured lungs resulting from broken ribs. Other organs can be damaged due to the force of the collision or from striking external objects after being ejected from the vehicle.
In addition to these physical injuries, victims of rollover accidents often experience other losses, such as lost income, vehicle or property damage, and pain and suffering.
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 survive it if you experience one:
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:
If you’ve been in a rollover accident, you’ll likely have sustained serious injuries and need time to recover. You may be anxious about how you’ll pay for your medical bills and other expenses or have questions about what legal action you can take to compensate for your losses. Our experienced team of personal injury lawyers is dedicated to helping accident victims recover compensation for rollover crashes and other types of car accidents.
A skilled personal injury attorney can answer any questions you have regarding your car accident case. To learn more about vehicle rollover crashes, we also recommend reviewing some car accident statistics and FAQs. Contact us today for a free consultation.
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