When a rollover car accident occurs there are many challenges that an attorney must face to determine whether there are claims for negligent driving, car part liability or other negligence. Some of those challenges include investigating weather, road conditions and driver error at the time of the accident. Expert witnesses may be needed, such as accident reconstruction specialists.
Experienced car accident attorneys often start investigating a potential product defect case by looking at three questions to obtain prompt, practical answers about the accident and to break the case down into manageable issues. Those three questions are:
- What caused the vehicle to travel sideways
- What caused the rollover of the vehicle
- What caused the plaintiff’s injuries
When asking these questions in sequence attorneys are able to start building a product defect case. They also can develop their defect arguments and become more focused in where investigations need to be directed.
What caused the vehicle to travel sideways?
Before any vehicle rolls over it travels sideways. This means that there was some type of force from one side of the vehicle. This force may include:
- Product defect, such as a tire blowout
- A wheel falling off of the vehicle
- Locked up brakes
- T-bone style collision from another vehicle
- Loss of traction on ice
- Centrifugal force on a sharp curve
- Driver emergency maneuvers, in combination with other factors
- Excessive speed
- Poor driver response to road conditions
However, evidence can be misleading at face value and should be investigated by lawyers and using experts in the right fields. For a product defect case, identifying the precise cause of the initial sideways motion is critical for the case.
What caused rollover of the vehicle?
Vehicles, such as SUVs, are more likely than others to rollover when subjected to sideways forces. A rollover occurs when the force from one side of the vehicle is powerful enough to tip the vehicle up, overcoming gravity.
Rollovers often involve other complicating conditions, such as:
- Pot holes on the road
- Soft shoulder at the road’s edge
- Sideways scrubbing of tires across dry pavement
- Presence of a curb or rut
Such conditions can tip the vehicle during sideways motion, creating rollover. These conditions can derail a product liability case, if the case is not properly investigated. The plaintiff, through the assistance of an attorney, must demonstrate that despite the above conditions the vehicle’s rollover was due to improper design or instability of the vehicle or its parts.
What caused the plaintiff’s injuries?
When it can be proven that a vehicle product defect caused sideways motion leading to the rollover accident, or that a stability defect was the problem, then the exact means by which the plaintiff was injured in the rollover does not matter. Once the defect is proven, any injuries resulting from that rollover will be compensable.
If it is realized that the rollover was not substantially contributed to by a product defect, there can still be a viable case of product liability. It must be shown that no injury would have occurred if the vehicle had been sturdy enough to stand up to the cause of the rollover, without the rollover resulting. This is called crashworthiness. Crash worthiness claims of rollover cases often include:
- Inadequate roof strength
- Failure of seatbelts
- Failure of door latches
As an example, injuries sustained from inadequate roof strength usually involve head and neck injuries. These injuries happen when the roof collapses into the passenger compartment during the rollover. Occupants are often crushed and pinned in the vehicle in these instances.
As another example, seatbelt claims often involve passengers being thrown from the seat during the rollover, losing the protection of that seat and being injured as a result.
There are a multitude of injuries from vehicle defects in rollover accidents.
Seeking Help after a Roll Over Car Accident
After a rollover car accident occurs, getting legal advise on where to start is an important step to begin the process of investigating the accident. An attorney will review evidence, paying particular attention to the following areas:
- Pre-rollover events in general
- What caused the car to go off course and move sideways
- What caused the rollover
- Post-rollover events in general
- Proximate cause of injuries
- Other factors, through step-by-step analysis
These initial reviews of evidence then lead attorneys toward the right experts to help prove product defect.
If you have been injured in a rollover car accident, the best advise is to contact an attorney as soon as possible. They can assess whether or not you have a product defect case and if you should be entitled to compensation for your expenses associated with the rollover accident.
Aaron Crane, an experienced car accident lawyer in Phoenix, has handled many cases where a car accident is caused by a defective car part and the victims is entitled to compensation.