Sport utility vehicles (SUVs) are among the most popular automobiles in the United States. SUVs account for more than 40% of new passenger vehicles purchased nationwide. Yet, they are twice as likely as another vehicle to roll over in a crash. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that SUVs rollover at a rate higher than other passenger vehicles, even pickup trucks.
Don’t think for one moment that your teenager will be safer in an SUV because it is a heavy vehicle.
SUV rollovers remain a serious public safety hazard because they are extraordinarily dangerous.
SUVs have a far higher fatality rate than virtually any other type of collision. For reference, approximately 2% of all passenger vehicles accidents reported in the U.S. involve a rollover. However, rollovers account for more than one third of traffic fatalities.
In other words, rollovers are 17 times more likely to kill than other crashes.
Case in point: On June 24th, one teenager was killed and seven other hospitalized in an SUV rollover in Carlsbad on a straight and level road in a residential area. Alcohol was not reported to be a factor. Once the investigation is complete the focus will be on both speed and the Toyota 4Runner, in this crash, has a truck-based, body-on-frame and a higher than usual center of gravity. It’s rollover resistance rating was given a modest 3-stars by NHTSA. Any owner knows that drivers must brake this truck before curves because this vehicle leans in curves and it is easy to lose control.
Who are potentially Responsible Parties when an SUV rolls?
Every rollover accident should be comprehensively investigated by an experienced attorney. Multiple defendants may bear liability—and injured victims need to explore every avenue to recover financial compensation for the full extent of their damages. Leading causes are:
- Negligent Drivers: Driver error is the leading cause of automobile accidents in the United States. Many SUV rollover accidents are caused by mishandling a vehicle with a high center of gravity and a third-party motorist who sets the stage for a crash.
- High Center of Gravity: For starters, centers of gravity are increased by heavy loads and are a design defect.
- Rapid Recovery from Blind Side Crash: For example, Ford Explorers historically would trip over a front wheel during a rapid recovery from a potential crash while changing lanes because of a high center of gravity.
- Overloaded and Roof Carriers: Heavy loads in roof carriers significantly raise the center of gravity of SUVs above their design threshold.
- Four-Wheel Drives: Present a higher center of gravity and are rarely used except in winter travel in mountains on snow covered roads. Two-wheel drives have a much lower center of gravity.
- Defective Tire Design: Firestone and Bridgestone tires are good examples.
- Defective Tire: A defective tire can cause a loss of control.
- SUV Manufacturers: Manufacturers and distributors have a legal obligation to put reasonably safe products on the market. An injured consumer may have a product liability claim if the SUV rollover occurred because the vehicle was dangerous and defective.
- Lift Kit Installer: Raising the center of gravity increases the hazard.
- Road Designers and Construction Companies: If an SUV rollover accident occurred due to unsafe road conditions—such as debris left by a highway maintenance crew—they can be held responsible for the resulting injuries.
Because California is a comparative negligence jurisdiction, the plaintiff and multiple defendants may share liability for the same crash. How that calculates is complicated. An overall award will be reduced by the amount of fault of the plaintiff. When liability is shared by several defendants , each party will be held responsible for damages for pain and suffering, known as general damages, in proportion to their share of “fault” for the harm caused, but economic losses are the joint responsibility of all wrongdoers.
Contact Our Silicon Valley SUV Accident Attorneys for Immediate Help
Alexander Law Group, LLP attorneys are available to answer questions and share our knowledge of the law and the results of our research and experience. Our goal as personal injury lawyers is to make a difference for our clients. Every day we deal with a range of health and safety issues that most people do not encounter until after an injury occurs. As safety lawyers we are committed to providing our clients and the public with information for safer and healthier living. Call 888-777-1776 or contact us online to schedule a consultation to see how we can help you.