Throughout Los Angeles, California, sports utility vehicle (“SUV”) rollover accidents take place daily. SUVs are built with a center of gravity much higher than a passenger car. And the wheelbase width rarely compensates for the height. This article by Los Angeles SUV rollover attorney, Michael Ehline, discusses the aspects of these cases.
Often, when the SUV rests on the roof, it crushes people inside to death.
Here, we will delve into the causes of these accidents. Then we will discuss the various ways an injured victim can recover money under the law of negligence.
SUV – Propensity to Flip Over?
SUV rollover accidents place the lives of others at risk. These vehicles have a propensity for flipping over when making turns. So cornering or lane changes carry a great flipping danger compared to small cars.
And the fact they roll over onto to weak roofs crystallizes the dangers. Often, when the SUV rests on the roof, it crushes people inside to death.
In particular, surviving little ones like babies and kids can face emotional trauma. Also, they often end up with bad brain injuries and crushed bones. Plus, these are frightening incidents. Some children see their parents die right in front of them.
Off Road Accidents.
Off-road vehicle rollovers are less regular than highway SUV rollovers. But none-the-less, they are a major reason for personal injuries or worse. Also, many insurance policies exclude coverage for off roading.
Ehline’s Clear Difference. Better Service, Better Results.
Ehline Law helps with roof crush cases. And we have vast experience in recovering money for injured passengers and drivers. But we do not stop there.
First of all, we have great legal assistants at the office.
Part of their job means answering your questions. And they do so with compassion. They strive to deliver great attitude and service. Most of all, they want to be your 5-star attorney.
Our results and online reviews show one common thread. The evidence demonstrates that satisfied clients who needed help hired us. And these injured victims were happy they retained our services.
Furthermore, many victims kept us for situations arising out of products claims. All of them were satisfied with their settlements.
Michael Ehline Has Up Close and Personal Experience as a Rollover Victim.
In fact, Michael Ehline, Esq, himself was in a jack-knife rollover as a teenager. And this was when he lived in Anaheim Hills off of Santiago Canyon Road.
He experienced the breaking glass and roof cave in over his head. Also, he witnessed the other weeping occupants around him. Thoughts of the car resting upright on burst tires are locked his memory. All this distress and calamity drives him to end suffering.
Also, there can be emotional scars to the survivors. Plus, there could be brain damage, skull or neck injuries. And some injuries may not appear till much later. The good news for victims? Michael learned from his wreck. Now he uses that experience to fuel his fight for you.
Hiring Ehline means many things. First, we feel your pain. Second, we want to make sure we impart our experiences into your case. Third, we hope our partnership with you will aid your life in a positive way.
Most of all, Ehline refuses to be a snooty big firm. We offer small firm service, with big firm results. Call us for a free consultation, at (213) 596-9642. Or read on and discover what makes us different.
The Causes of Rollover Accidents.
A single vehicle rollover crash can happen too. Most of all, drivers have a false sense of security. Because they sit higher than in a passenger car it gives some a feeling of strength.
Some experts say this may cause SUV drivers to drive fast. And some SUV drivers seem to brave high-speed driving. And the same holds true under poor weather conditions. Dangers of these vehicles are part of the NHTSA statistics.
- About 90 percent of rollover vehicle crashes are solo accidents.
- And something like 11,000 fatal rollover crashes take place each year.
- Nearly half of fatal rollover crashes are single vehicle accidents.
- An estimated 36 percent increase exists for injuries to occupants.
Deaths From Flipping Over are a Real Threat.
As discussed, the most common injuries are traumatic head injuries. But death soon follows. During the year of 2006, SUV’s were becoming a hugely popular vehicle to drive.
Then there were 10,142 roadway fatalities. And 8,345 of them were from single-vehicle rollover accidents.
But this does not indicate how many of the 8,345 deaths were SUV rollovers. But many deaths took place in one of the models of vehicles that have the propensity to flip over.
As seen, the causes of this type of accident can include a variety of things. Often it involves running off of the roadway. So flipping into ditches is common. Also, sliding on asphalt, speeding, icy or wet roads can cause the driver to lose control.
And potholes all around L.A. contribute to these events. Now combine this with over-correction of steering. Under these conditions, one can quickly flip an SUV.
When drivers lose control, the narrow wheelbase and center of gravity work against them. And this can result in a rollover mishap. Another cause is a collision with another vehicle. That makes the SUV roll over. Most of the time, it will land on its side or roof.
SUV Roof Issues.
When an SUV is in a rollover mishap; the roof is going to take the main impact. Due to the failure to make the roof safe on many models, they did not meet the safety standards. Hence, they failed the NHTSA regulations. Once builders knew they were prone to this type of accident, roll bars got welded into some vehicles. But not all were updated.
So this resulted in recalls of many of these models. All of this was to increase roof safety in the event of a rollover. But these standards do not ensure traveling in an SUV is completely safe. And any model in a rollover event is going to have the most force placed on the roof.
And because of the poor construction of some models, the roof has a tendency to collapse inward. This is how grave injury or death can happen inside the shell.
So permanent harm includes:
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Lower cervical neck fractures
- Back injuries
- Spinal cord injuries with partial or complete paralysis
Various Rollover Situations Our Attorneys Can Help You With.
Learning what we do helps you grasp the herculean efforts we take. A law firm for rollover cases must preserve vital evidence. And they should gather facts. But they must also stay in touch with witnesses.
And these people can disappear. Also, they can forget important information. It must be recorded. But this should be in front of a notary for later use in court.
There are numerous categories of these claims as follows:
- Ramp Rollover: In this type of vehicle, the automobile will roll when the side entering or exiting the ramp, elevates. Then it tips over on the opposite side, as it rolls onto a ramp. But it could be any elevated object. So if you have gone on or off a freeway ramp too fast, you may have noticed your SUV started to tilt. It probably felt like it would flip. Most of the time an SUV flips over, an event like this will be the trigger. Another example could be if you are forced to take evasive action. So in that case, you may also lose control. You may have swerved to avoid a small child retrieving his ball. You will get speed wobbles by swerving back forth. Then you can flip and get crushed. Most makers realize that an SUV needs to be designed so it does not roll over. Automobiles should have a design that allows for evasive action as discussed.
Showing Unstable SUV via External Trip Mechanism.
To win in court, you must identify the external trip mechanism. And after that is done, you may be able to show that the SUV was unstable. Hence, you can argue it was incapable of being made safe for its design and class. Some of you may remember the Suzuki “Rollover,” as an inherently unsafe vehicle. That is how the attorneys won that case.
- Lateral force rollover: Happens when an auto travels too fast for the approaching curve. Due to the high center of gravity, the vehicle will roll.
- Side-slop rollover: In this hypo, a four-wheeler could be forced off the road. Most often a drunk driver causes this. So now they left the road in such a manner as to flip the truck.
- Sideway skid rollover: When the rear end of your raised truck peels out or goes sideways from spinning tires a skid takes place. Clearly, a result of lost traction makes these trucks flip. When a truck spins out and fishtails, it can hit a curb or other object. So it will get thrown airborne, off center.
These cases are no joke. And they are worse after a long storm and lots of rain. In any event, when you or a major wage earner in your family gets hurt, you need help. Many times it can be catastrophic. So when a truck, or big SUV like a Mercedes GL 550, a Chevy Blazer rolls, consider help from a lawyer. Let the lawyer report back to you. That way they can tell you who may be on the risk. At least you can be confident with your insurance and court claim.
Other Causes of SUV Rollovers.
So it could be an object, another driver, or a roadway obstruction. In turn, that can flip your truck. But the maker and seller may have played a role. And this may make your bad injuries worse. We will see if these defendants failed to warn you.
So we will see if it was bad user guides, a design flaw, or factory flaw. For example, it could be faulty equipment caused the roof’s collapse. Examples include bad welds, missing bolts, etc. Maybe the rollbars were insufficient for such a huge truck.
If we discover that flaw, our law firm stands at the ready. Then we can help you hold the bad actor’s feet to the fire. And if you are now struggling to pay for pain medication and past due bills, we understand. We have compassion. And we are mindful you may be laid out from a bad wreck.
Hence, we have sympathy for you. Due to our experiences, we are kindred spirits and not just attorneys. If we cannot force a settlement now, we will battle the defendants on the courthouse steps. And we take your complaint to trial if we have to. Do or die, Ehline Law makes it happen!
Some Steps Our SUV Rollover Attorneys Take To Get You Money.
Getting justice means getting the maximum compensation for serious injuries. The steps to take are various. Doing so can maximize the overall value of your lawsuit. A good attorney will seek to determine who was at fault. Negligence law will be the guide. And these rules are found in Code of Civil Procedure section 1714.
So you must prove the driver, owner, maker, seller, or reseller caused the injury. And if you do so, you may be recover money damages. So now you can receive money for your personal injuries. For example, an exploding airbag could deploy without warning. That could cause a rollover. And that could land you in the hospital, or worse.
As with other types of accidents, figuring out who was at fault is key. Same goes in cases of defective tires, door-latches, etc. And these could all be part of the reason the SUV flipped, or injuries worsening. For example, what if the SUV landed on its roof and the door latches became jammed? Now imagine a gasoline leak ignition. What could have been a head injury case, just turned into a wrongful death by fire claim?
But now we have to find evidence the doors jamming were a cause of the injuries or death. Crucial to this will be gathering witness statements while memories are fresh. Also, ordering the police reports promptly, and preserving vital evidence becomes crucial. So we act swiftly, like wild banshees.
Also, SUV accidents make up the majority of negligent wrongful death cases. The influx of rollovers is a fairly new phenomenon. And this is expected to continue being a leading cause of roadway tragedies. Hence, even with safety advances, rollover roof crush risks are greater than with small cars.
We Deliver on Our Promises.
Because we are a boutique law firm, we are a cut above vagabonds. So we are big on results, not promises. Because of this, we give you one on one attention. So now you can relax and carry on your regular life, try and heal your wounds.
Let us deal with the legal red tape. Our aggressive advocates will handle your case. Also, we will keep you in the loop while seeking your informed consent every step of the way on your behalf.
Tutorial Review: SUV Rollover Facts.
You always risk injuries when you travel on Los Angeles freeways and highways. But SUV’s are in a whole category unto themselves. These crashes often involve serious head injuries. And this is from the large, heavy vehicle rolling over on its roof, which caves the roof in. So that roof hits the occupant’s head, or crushes it. Most of the time it damages the victim’s brain and spine.
Comparing Passenger Cars and SUV Dangers.
More often than not, SUV accidents are far-reaching. In fact, statistics prove SUV roof crush from a rollover, has over a sixty (60%) percent chance of death. Contrast this with only a nineteen (19%) or so chance of dying when a car flips over. But the reason SUV’s are more dangerous is that they have a high center of gravity. So when compared to automobiles they are high in the air. To add to this problem, they are much more “top” heavy. This means SUVs can flip over much more easily than small cars.
Eighty Percent of Fatalities in Sports Utility Vehicles are From a Roof Caving After Flipping Over.
Groups like the National Highway Traffic Safety Association (“NHTSA”) gather SUV accident statistics. Around eighty (80%) percent die when the roof caves in. Usually, it crushes their heads. This compares to around a forty (40%) light vehicle roof crush cases.
Passenger cars are less likely to involve roof crush deaths. Despite the statists and facts militating against owning an SUV, people buy more and more! Also, gasoline costs a lot of cash. But in fairness, these are colossal vehicles. And they have lots of room for occupants and cargo.
They are great for soccer moms and construction workers. But they are equally great for the lawyer or businessman who transports files all over the place. So a catch 22 arises. Damned if you do, damned if you don’t.
Methods of Recovery – Products Claims.
SUV rollover cases get started by suing all in the chain of commerce. At the end of the day, the designer and builder are liable. After all, they must not poorly design or build an SUV. And if they do, you can sue the you know what out of them. This is a theory of tort recovery called product liability.
Product laws make all those in the chain of distribution liable.
The other parties can seek contribution from companies like Ford or Chevrolet. Typically these are the ones who create the vehicles in assembly plants. What’s important? Victim’s must get paid money for their injuries.
The need for skilled lawyers is evident. In fact, more and more cases get tried on their technical merits. So now, automobile builders are responding to claims with overwhelming amounts of evidence.
So they will submit scientific and technical evidence. Also, they will provide human expertise in the form of retained and non-retained expert witnesses. And they will also have crack attorneys. These are people skilled in the art of deception and skulduggery.
The Plaintiff’s Burden.
It is plaintiff’s burden to prove up their case. So they have the burden of countering the defense experts. And this becomes pricey. More than anything, a products case expense will be high. Since your attorney is advancing costs, they will be frugal. If you don’t win, they are unable to collect these costs from a verdict or settlement. But the client will be on the hook.
So it is suicide to try and handle a case like this unless you have training. And you will also need a huge bank-roll. But before hiring a lawyer, learn a little more about proving the case. Have a civilized, enlightened phone conversation with our staff here at Ehline Law Firm. Get the skinny on your potential case.
What is the Difference Between Traditional Negligence and SUV Negligence?.
In a traditional auto v. auto claim, the plaintiff must prove the defendant driver breached the duty of care. Then they must prove that breach caused you damages. (Such as a rear-ender.) As discussed above, negligence law sets forth the standards. But when you sue an SUV builder for product defects, you are suing a third party.
So it is a little different than getting hit in a rear ender on the freeway. In this case you are arguing that a defect or failure to warn caused you freeway crash. So the rules are a little different.
Suing For Third Party Negligence.
As noted, sometimes you are not suing another motorist. For example, in a rollover case you are pursuing a vehicle maker. Here is where it gets tricky. There are many available theories. Hence, products cases may include many causes of action.
- What is a Cause of Action?
A cause of action is basically a claim inserted into the complaint. A typical cause of action in a personal injury case is general “negligence.” Under this theory, the plaintiff is not suing for breach of contract. But he may want to amend the complaint later. But that is normally after supporting evidence is located. However, plaintiff can make general allegations, conduct discovery and amend the complaint. So what if the defendant files a demurrer or motion for summary judgment, and wins on negligence?
Complaint Amended Once as a Matter of Right?
The claim is amend-able once as a matter of right. Then the victim may add additional causes of action. Plaintiff may decide that GMC sold him the SUV. Hence, he may say the defendant had a contractual duty not to allow a crushed roof for normal driving. Also, he could say that GMC is liable strictly.
If plaintiff proceeds under this theory, negligence is no longer necessary. None the less, the attorney will leave it in the complaint. Sometimes the facts may support one theory, but not another. Either way, the judge can issue the jury instruction easier. All the minutia aside, each theory is a cause of action.
Proving Strict Products.
Strict liability is just one of many theories available. Often, it will be added to a mixed bag pleading. Hence, it may include multiple claims. Thus, it might include breach of express and implied warranties, for example. But under this theory, all you have to prove will be the SUV was defective.
Next, you must show it got introduced into the stream of commerce. But the caveat is that you must show the product was defective. Because of this theory, you may recover no matter what. But how do you show a defect and win?
Your Battleground Is in Proving a Defect.
So our battleground is over evidence the product was defective. And these cases get heated. The price for both sides is high. SUV rollover claims like this are most often based upon crash worthiness.
Plaintiff will argue the vehicle lacks a stable platform. And this is what it needs at high and low speeds.
The defense will argue the vehicle met federal and state standards. Next, they will move to dismiss. Each side has to call and pay experts at lengthy depositions. Each side can literally spend millions. And all this will be well before the case sees the light of day.
So it makes sense to prepare like crazy. Our theory? Spending time and money up front means no court. Also, it less costs to the client mean more money pocketed. Also, the interests of judicial economy are preserved.
Sports utility vehicle (SUV) truck accidents continue to increase. Because these are popular motor vehicles, there are many on the roads. And they are notorious for narrow wheelbases compared to ride height.
External Trip Mechanisms – “The Crashworthiness Doctrine.”
Let’s assume the SUV rollover happened as the result of “external trip mechanisms.” Courts of Appeal use the stability at high and low speeds test. This is called the “crashworthiness doctrine.” This can make SUV builder liable under unique facts. If the SUV makes the injury worse than a normal crash-worthy SUV, the defendant is liable.
A vehicle not crash-worthy can cause serious injuries. And these include broken bones, crushed skulls, and brain damage. Also, other serious problems come about. For example, defective seat belts or lack of safety cage protection can kill.
Often the roof is feeble. So that roof that caves in on your head in a rollover crash. Makers should take steps to reduce or prevent these injuries. Our position is it should not happen at all.
If not, you may be able to sue them. This “enhanced injury” can get handled in court. The most successful claims are: defective seats, seatbelts, exploding fuel tanks, roof crush, lack of side impact protections, etc.
Our Goal – Delivering Windfall Like Settlements and Verdicts.
The firm’s fame for above average outcomes speaks for itself. They don’t just want a win; they want a windfall. But you must not let the statute expire in your case. Hence, you must contact a real sage and deeply discuss your grievance.
Speak to a Rollover Injury Attorney Right Now.
So when in a rollover accident, Ehline Law Firm can help. First, we give you a free consultation. Then we go to work. Most of all, our seasoned lawyers are master litigators. And we have the resources to address every client’s case. Call us at (213) 596-9642 to learn more.
DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION National Highway Traffic Safety Admin 49 CFR Part 571 Docket No. NHTSA-2005-22143 RIN 2127-AG51 Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards; Roof Crush Resistance http://www.nhtsa.gov/cars/rules/crashworthy/RoofCrResist/FMVSS216Notice.html
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