Everyday in the United States there are hundreds of SUV, van & light truck rollovers. Often times these rollovers are caused wholly or in part by tire failures, tire tread defects (detreading or delamination), poor stability design, poorly designed suspension system and inadequate brakes. Once the rollover occurs, the occupants face additional dangers from weak roof supports that crush or collapse, weak seatbacks that fail, the lack of headrest or head restraint devices, overly aggressive airbags, defective or poor fitting seat belts, dangerous lap only belts, seat belt buckles that open during crashes and finally window glass / windshields that allow passengers to be ejected during the rollover.
Most sports utilities vehicles by their very nature have a high center of gravity and are therefore as a group, the most unstable vehicles on the road. Although SUVs are designed to be driven off the road, very few have roll bars, roll cages or other roof crush or occupant protection. And to make matters worse, few SUVs, vans or trucks meet the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration (NHTSA) roof support safety standard (FMVSS # 216). Most rollovers occur when the driver is forced to take an emergency or evasive action after steering in one direction and then rapidly correcting in the opposite direction, such as a typical avoidance maneuver with a road hazard, a deer, a dog, pothole or another vehicle in their path. This evasive action often results in a rollover. Adding insult to injury, the driver is likely to be cited by the investigating officer for such violations as failure to control speed, overcorrection, and faulty evasive action and many others. The truth of the matter is that most rollovers occur because of the absence of a lower center of gravity and lack of a wider track width like in passenger vehicles. In most rollovers the fault can be squarely placed on the manufacturers for a negligent vehicle design and not on the unsuspecting drivers of these vehicles.
During a rollover of a SUV, van or truck, the roof pillars, front roof header and side roof rails often collapse and invade the occupant safety zone. When this happens the roof is pushed into or forced into the occupant, resulting in neck fractures that can render the passenger or driver a paraplegic, quadriplegic or brain damaged or even worst death. These injuries result from shear and flexion forces unto the neck and spinal cord of the occupants. Roof crush injuries are caused by the energy of the vehicle in a roll creating compressive forces pushing down on the top of skull when the head is in an upright position. The compression causes a bursting fracture in the C4 to C7 of the cervical spine. This bursting fracture causes a loss of intravertebral space both anterior and posterior.
Diving type injuries can occur from defective seatbelts allowing too much slack and body movement, resulting in the occupant diving into the roof during the rollover. Often it can be proved by biomechanical experts that most of the spinal damage occurs from the roof crushing verses the occupant diving into the roof. Similar neck, head & spinal injuries can also result when the rollover occupant is thrown or ejected from the vehicle during the roll. Even in low speed rollovers the energy that is absorbed by the person ejected during the impact with the pavement or ground is deadly.
It is important to know what to do to protect the legal rights of yourself and your loved ones. Selecting the right attorney is an important decision. You should choose someone who is experienced, aggressive and dedicated to working to get fair compensation for your injuries. Over the past we have successfully handled thousands of injury and death cases. That is why you should contact the Law Offices of Doyle & O’Donnell.