How Do Vehicles Roll Over?

Understanding the mechanics behind vehicle rollovers is essential for grasping the complexities of these dangerous accidents.

A vehicle rollover involves the vehicle tipping over onto its side or roof, a situation often resulting from a combination of factors, including vehicle design, speed, driver actions, and environmental conditions. There are two primary types of rollovers: tripped and untripped, each with its own distinct causes and dynamics.

Tripped Rollovers

Tripped rollovers occur when a vehicle leaves the roadway and strikes an object such as a curb, guardrail, or uneven ground, which “trips” it into rolling over. This type of rollover is the most common and can be further broken down into several categories:

  • Soft-Trip Rollovers: This happens when a vehicle runs onto a softer surface (like dirt or grass) off the pavement, causing one side of the vehicle to slow down more rapidly than the other and leading to a rollover.
  • Hard-Trip Rollovers: This rollover occurs when a vehicle hits a solid object or steep slope that forces it to flip over.
  • Guardrail Trips: When a vehicle slides sideways into a guardrail, it can act as a ramp, launching the vehicle into the air and causing it to roll over.

Statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) highlight the significance of tripped rollovers in traffic accidents. Their reports show that tripped rollovers account for about 95% of all single-vehicle rollovers. Road and vehicle conditions, as well as driver behavior, play a significant role in how often these rollover accidents occur. Factors such as speed, angle of impact with the obstacle, vehicle design (including center of gravity and stability), and road conditions are crucial in determining whether a collision with an external object will result in a rollover.

Untripped Rollovers

Untripped rollovers are less common and usually result from steering maneuvers at high speeds or sudden shifts in a vehicle’s center of gravity. These incidents often occur during aggressive driving maneuvers or when a driver attempts to avoid an obstacle or collision:

  • High-Speed Maneuvers: Quick, sharp turns at high speeds can cause a vehicle to roll over if its center of gravity shifts too dramatically.
  • Load Shift: If a vehicle is improperly loaded, with a high center of gravity, or if the load shifts suddenly, it can tip and roll over without any external trip mechanism.

Certain Vehicles: Passenger vehicles with a high center of gravity, such as SUVs, vans, and trucks, are particularly susceptible to untripped rollovers. This risk increases in conditions that require abrupt steering actions, such as swerving to avoid an obstacle or overcorrecting a drift

Common Causes of Rollover Accidents

Rollover accidents are among the most severe types of vehicular incidents, often resulting in significant injuries or fatalities. To avoid rollover accidents, it’s useful to know what causes them in the first place.

One of the primary contributors to rollover accidents is driver behavior. Actions such as speeding significantly increase the risk of rollovers. According to the NHTSA, speeding is a factor in many fatal rollover accidents. Higher speeds make navigating turns and sudden maneuvers more difficult without losing control.

Aggressive driving, including rapid lane changes and sharp, sudden turns, can also lead to a potential rollover, especially in vehicles with a higher center of gravity.

Distracted driving is another common reason for rollovers. Engaging in activities that divert attention from the road, such as texting, adjusting the radio, or other multitasking, can lead to delayed reactions to road conditions or hazards, increasing the likelihood of a car accident, including rollovers.

To ensure that you stay as safe as possible, be sure to maintain a safe speed and stay alert to changes in road conditions and maneuvers by other drivers.

Vehicles with a high center of gravity, such as SUVs, pickup trucks, and vans, are more prone to rollovers than lower-profile cars. This is because their higher center of gravity makes them less stable during sharp turns or sudden maneuvers. NHTSA rollover ratings highlight the importance of stability in vehicle design, spurring auto manufacturers to improve the stability of their SUVs in recent years.

Vehicle maintenance, particularly tire condition, is also a critical factor. Properly maintained tires with adequate tread and correct inflation levels are essential for maintaining traction and stability. Worn or improperly inflated tires can lead to a loss of control, contributing to the risk of a rollover.

Environmental and road conditions are another common cause of rollover car accidents. Rural roads, for example, are more likely to be the scene of rollover accidents than urban settings, partly due to higher speed limits, less traffic, undivided lanes, and soft road shoulders. These factors can contribute to tripped rollovers when vehicles veer off the road.

Weather conditions, such as rain, snow, ice, and fog, can also increase rollover risk by reducing visibility and vehicle traction, making it harder to maintain control. Road design elements, including sharp curves, steep slopes, and poorly maintained surfaces, can further contribute to the likelihood of a car rollover.

By understanding the various factors contributing to rollover accidents, you can take preventative measures to reduce risk. This includes adopting safer driving habits, ensuring your vehicle is properly maintained, and being aware of how environmental conditions may impact driving safety.

At Rainwater, Holt & Sexton, we are committed to raising awareness about these risks and supporting those injured in a rollover crash. Our goal is to promote safer roads and driving practices, helping to protect our community and reduce these devastating accidents.

Common Injuries from Rollover Accidents

Rollover accidents subject drivers and passengers to impacts from multiple directions, leading to a wide range of injuries.

Minor injuries may include road rash, cuts, bruises, and abrasions. These injuries, often caused by shattered glass or contact with the vehicle interior during the rollover, may seem insignificant but can lead to infection or other complications if not treated promptly.

Soft tissue injuries, such as whiplashstrains, and sprains, are common in rollover accidents. These injuries result from the sudden and forceful movement of the body during the crash, damaging muscles, ligaments, and tendons. While these injuries might not be immediately apparent, they can cause long-term pain and disability if not addressed.

Broken bones and fractures are frequently reported in rollover accidents due to the immense forces exerted on the body. These can range from simple fractures that may heal with minimal intervention to complex fractures requiring surgical repair. Common areas for fractures include the arms, legs, ribs, and pelvis.

Traumatic brain injuries, including concussions, are particularly concerning in rollover accidents. The head can be hit or jolted violently, leading to brain trauma. TBIs range from mild (temporary effects on brain function) to severe (sometimes leading to permanent brain damage or death).

Spinal cord injuries are among the most severe outcomes of rollover accidents, potentially leading to paralysis (temporary or permanent) and other lifelong disabilities. These injuries result from damage to the spinal cord or vertebrae, often caused by the forceful twisting and turning of the vehicle.

Internal injuries to organs such as the liver, spleen, kidneys, or lungs can occur due to the blunt force trauma associated with rollovers. These injuries may not be immediately apparent but can be life-threatening if not promptly diagnosed and treated.

Due to the severe nature of these injuries, you must seek immediate medical attention after an incident, even if no injuries are apparent. Some injuries, particularly internal and soft tissue injuries, may not cause symptoms immediately but can have severe consequences if left untreated.

At Rainwater, Holt & Sexton, we stress the importance of prioritizing your health and safety following any rollover accident. Immediate medical attention not only facilitates a better recovery but also provides essential documentation should you pursue a personal injury claim.

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What to Do After a Rollover Accident

If you or someone you love is involved in a rollover crash, the steps you take following the collision can significantly impact your recovery and your ability to collect fair compensation. Here’s what you should do after a rollover:

Get to Safety and Call Emergency Services

  • Check for Injuries: Immediately after the accident, assess yourself and any passengers for injuries. Remember, some injuries may not be immediately apparent due to shock or adrenaline.
  • Get to a Safe Location: If you can move and it’s safe to exit the vehicle, relocate to a safe distance from the accident scene to avoid any further harm from oncoming traffic or potential vehicle fires.
  • Contact Emergency Services: Call 911 as soon as possible, and be sure to share any injuries with first responders. Emergency responders will provide the necessary medical attention and secure the area.

Document and Report the Accident

  • Document the Scene: Once you’re in a safe location and have received medical attention, take photos of the accident scene, your vehicle, any other vehicles involved, and relevant road conditions or signs. Only do this if it is safe and if you’re not hurt. This visual evidence can be crucial for insurance claims and legal purposes.
  • Gather Information: Exchange information with other parties involved in the accident, including names, contact details, insurance information, and vehicle registration details. If there are witnesses, get their contact information as well.
  • Report the Accident: Notify your insurance provider about the accident immediately. Be factual about the details, but avoid admitting fault or speculating about the cause at this stage.
  • File a Police Report: If law enforcement responds to the accident, they will likely file a report. If not, you may need to visit the nearest police station to file a report. This document is important for both insurance and legal processes.

Seek Legal Assistance

  • Consult a Personal Injury Lawyer: After addressing immediate health and safety concerns, consult a personal injury lawyer at Rainwater, Holt & Sexton. We have experience helping injured rollover accident victims and their families. Our attorneys will help you navigate insurance claims and explore your options for seeking compensation for injuries, damages, and any lost wages.
  • Take the Right Approach for You: Lawyers like those at Rainwater, Holt & Sexton have the experience and resources to investigate the accident thoroughly, establish liability, and negotiate with insurance companies on your behalf. They can ensure that your rights are protected and you receive the money you need to recover after your crash.

Many personal injury lawyers, including those at Rainwater, Holt & Sexton, offer free consultations and work on a contingency fee basis. This means you won’t pay attorney fees unless they win your case. This makes legal representation accessible and allows you to focus on your recovery without financial stress.

Rainwater: Your Advocate After an Accident

After a rollover accident, our experienced attorneys are here to guide you as you seek compensation and recover from the collision.

Our Proven Approach

At Rainwater, Holt & Sexton, we have a long history of helping injured car accident victims in Arkansas. We begin with a comprehensive evaluation of your case, employing a team of skilled investigators and experts to gather all necessary evidence, often including accident scene reconstructions, witness statements, and medical records. This thorough preparation allows us to build a compelling case on your behalf.

With this strong case in hand, we’ll use our deep legal knowledge and expertise in negotiation to help you maximize your compensation.


Why Trusting Us Makes a Difference

Choosing Rainwater, Holt & Sexton means partnering with a firm that places your well-being and success first. We take the time to understand your unique situation, needs, and goals, ensuring we do what is best for you and your family.

Our commitment extends beyond mere legal representation. We aim to provide a supportive environment where clients feel valued and heard. Our team is always accessible, offering guidance and reassurance throughout the legal process. This client-first philosophy has fostered a track record of securing fair compensation for those affected by rollover accidents, allowing them to focus their energy on healing instead of paperwork, deadlines, or legal fees.

If you or someone you love has been injured in a rollover accident, give us a call at (800) 434-4800 and tell us your story.

Tell Us How We Can Help

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