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Michael J. Doyle, Attorney At Law Michael J. Doyle, Attorney At Law
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Common Injuries from Rollover Accidents


What Is a Car Rollover Accident?  

A car rollover refers to a type of vehicular accident where a vehicle tips over onto its side or roof. The physics behind a rollover primarily involves the vehicle's center of gravity and lateral force.  

When a vehicle takes a turn too quickly, hits an object, or is hit by another vehicle, it can cause the vehicle's center of gravity to shift abruptly. If the lateral force exceeds the vehicle's stability factor—largely determined by its center of gravity and track width—a rollover can occur. 

During a rollover, occupants are subjected to rapid changes in direction and speed, resulting in significant force impacts. These forces can cause injuries to various parts of the body, including the head, neck, chest, and extremities.  

The severity and type of injury largely depend on the nature of the force and the individual's position at the time of the accident. Below, we will discuss common types of injuries sustained in these accidents and the causes of this type of accident.  

Factors Causing Rollover Accidents 

Common factors that contribute to such accidents include:  

Vehicle Type 

The type of vehicle plays a significant role in the likelihood of a rollover. Taller, narrower vehicles such as SUVs, pickups, and vans are more prone to rollovers than lower, wider vehicles because they have a higher center of gravity.  

You can determine how at-risk you are for a rollover accident by reviewing your vehicle safety rating. The 5-star rating program includes an assessment of how the vehicle handles a rollover test

The rollover test is specifically designed to assess a vehicle's susceptibility to rolling over in a serious collision. The methodology behind the test involves a dynamic fishhook maneuver that replicates a scenario where a driver might sharply turn the steering wheel one way and then quickly back—the kind of high-speed, evasive action that can lead to a rollover. 

Key metrics measured during the test include the vehicle's Static Stability Factor (SSF)—a calculation based on the vehicle's center of gravity and track width—and its performance during the dynamic fishhook maneuver. The SSF predicts the vehicle's propensity to roll over, while the dynamic test measures the vehicle's actual behavior under extreme conditions. 

Based on these measurements, NHTSA calculates a rollover resistance rating, which is expressed as a percentage. The higher the percentage, the lower the risk of rollover.  

Speed & Driving Maneuvers 

Reckless driving behaviors, notably speeding and driving over curbs, significantly increase the risk of rollover accidents. Speeding intensifies this risk because the faster a vehicle moves, the less control the driver has over its stability, particularly when making sudden maneuvers.  

Driving over a curb can act as a tripping mechanism, causing the vehicle to tip over due to the abrupt disruption in its forward motion. Once a vehicle begins to roll, the inertia can keep it moving, often resulting in multiple rotations before it comes to a halt. 

Road Conditions 

Road conditions can also contribute to rollovers. Uneven surfaces can cause a vehicle to tip, especially if the driver makes a sudden maneuver. Similarly, slippery roads can lead to loss of control and potential rollovers. 

Driver's Actions 

Driver behavior significantly influences rollover risk. Distractions, impairment due to alcohol or drugs, fatigue, or aggressive driving can all increase the chances of a rollover accident. If a collision happens at a certain angle, it can tip these types of vehicles over their threshold stability, causing them to roll. 

Collision with Other Vehicles 

A collision with another vehicle can result in a rollover accident due to several factors, primarily involving the speed, size, center of gravity of the vehicle, and the location of impact. 

Prevention Tips 

Here are some tips to help minimize the risk of a rollover accident:  

  • Always maintain control of your vehicle and avoid excessive speed, especially on curves. 

  • Keep your tires properly inflated and replace them when they're worn out.  

  • Avoid distractions while driving, and never drive under the influence of alcohol or drugs. 

  • If you drive an SUV or another high-center-of-gravity vehicle, be aware of its handling characteristics and don't overload it. 

In the event of a rollover, wearing a seatbelt can dramatically increase your chances of survival. According to NHTSA, more than half of the people killed in rollover crashes were not restrained. 

What Injuries Do Rollover Collisions Produce?  

The severity of these accidents often leads to significant injuries, some of which can be life-altering. Here are some of the common types of injuries sustained in rollover accidents and their implications: 

  • Broken bones. The force exerted during a rollover accident can easily break bones. Arms and legs are particularly susceptible, especially if they're thrown against the vehicle's interior or ejected from the vehicle. 

  • Head and neck injuries. Head and neck injuries are among the most common injuries sustained in rollover accidents. The violent flipping of the vehicle can cause occupants to hit their heads against the roof, steering wheel, or windows. This can lead to concussions, traumatic brain injuries (TBI), or even spinal cord injuries that could result in paralysis. In these accidents, people may also experience intense cases of whiplash or other neck injuries because of the violent way a person’s head may be thrown around.  

  • Internal injuries. The extreme forces involved in a rollover can also cause internal injuries. These include damage to vital organs such as the heart, liver, or lungs, as well as internal bleeding. Such injuries are particularly dangerous as they may not be immediately apparent but can quickly become life-threatening. 

  • Lacerations and abrasions. Glass from shattered windows or windshields, as well as any loose objects within the car, can cause severe cuts and abrasions during a rollover. These wounds can lead to significant blood loss and may result in permanent scarring. 

Other Injuries 

Other potential injuries include chest and rib injuries, pelvic injuries, and injuries resulting from seatbelt use. While seatbelts significantly reduce the risk of ejection and death in a rollover, they can also cause injuries, particularly to the shoulder and chest area. 

Consequences of These Injuries 

These injuries can have immediate and long-term consequences, such as:  

  • Fractures may require surgical intervention and lengthy recovery times.  

  • Internal organ damage can lead to complications such as bleeding and infection.  

  • Spinal cord injuries can result in partial or complete paralysis.  

  • Traumatic brain injuries can lead to cognitive impairment, behavioral changes, and other neurological deficits. 

Long-term, these injuries can result in chronic pain, decreased mobility, and loss of function, significantly impacting an individual's quality of life. Ongoing medical treatment and rehabilitation services may be necessary, which can impose substantial financial and emotional burdens on the affected individuals and their families. 

Experienced Car Accident Attorney 

Should your rollover accident be caused by negligence, Michael Doyle, Attorney at Law can help you understand your legal rights and options. Backed by decades of experience, our attorney can also help you:  

  • Calculate your damages  

  • Handle negotiations or litigation 

  • Handle the necessary paperwork and documentation  

  • Collect evidence 

  • Obtain sound, objective legal counsel  

Call (505) 219-2176 to discuss your case with our attorney.