The most common type of crash leading to a fatality is a single‑vehicle crash. For instance, in 2005 the federal government reported that 10,870 occupants were killed in rollover crashes. Just as significant is the fact that there are a large number of catastrophic injuries resulting each year from rollovers, totaling 207,000 in 2006.
Rollovers Are Survivable if Vehicles Provide Basic Occupant Protection.
Unlike front‑ or side‑impact crashes—where the vehicle has to absorb a large amount of energy in a short amount of time—in a rollover, energy is typically dissipated over longer time and distance. Therefore, the forces on the occupant are often lower than in a frontal or side impact, making a rollover survivable with adequate occupant protection.
Vehicle defects that contribute to occupant injury in rollovers include lack of adequate roof and pillar strength; seat belts that do not safely hold occupants in their seats; seat belts that unlatch; door locks and latches that fail, allowing ejection; lack of glazing in the side or rear window that can help keep occupants inside vehicles; and lack of side curtain air bags, which can prevent ejection.
Engineering for Rollover Crash Protection
Engineers have long recognized that vehicles should be designed to protect occupants in crashes.
After a midair collision between two small airplanes in World War I, aviator Hugh DeHaven expounded on this concept by pioneering certain principles of occupant protection. These principles include containing and restraining the occupants in a shell or structure, lining the interior with energy‑absorbing materials, and transmitting forces onto the strongest parts of the contents. These concepts eventually found their way into the design of passenger cars.
In an early rollover crashworthiness case, where it was alleged that a vehicle’s roof collapsed and caused severe injuries to an occupant, the Court said:
“[I]t is the obligation of an automobile manufacturer to provide more than merely a movable platform capable of transporting passengers from one point to another. The passengers must be provided a reasonably safe container within which to make the journey. The roof is a part of such container. . . .”
Consistent with DeHaven’s crashworthiness principles, to protect occupants in a rollover, the vehicle must maintain the “survival space,” sometimes known as the “nonencroachment zone.” The survival space is enclosed by the roof, side rails, and pillars. These aspects should work together with the restraint system inside the structure to protect occupants when rollovers occur.
When People Die or Are Severely Injured in Rollover Accidents, Our Job is to Find Out Why
The injured and their families have the right to know the answers to these questions. They also have the right to recover from auto manufacturers when these aspects fail unreasonably.
At our firm, we work with accident reconstructionists and structural experts and others to understand exactly what occurred in the crash so that we can determine how an innocent victim was injured or killed.
We Represent Those Injured and the Family Members of Those Killed in Rollover Accidents
Please call our firm if you have been severely injured in a rollover accident, or if a family member has been killed. I will meet with you for a private consultation to explain how we will work hard to recover for you the full measure of damages to which you may be entitled, and how we will take on insurance companies, vehicle manufacturers, other drivers, and anyone else responsible for the damages, injuries, and death in your case.
There are no fees to us unless and until we recover for you.