Maryland Personal Injury Update: Rollover Traffic Accidents Pose Serious Danger to SUV and Passenger Van Occupants

We’ll be quite frank here: Automobile collisions are one of the most violent kinds of personal injury accidents out there, especially on our high-speed interstates and even on some secondary roads. In fact, as Maryland auto accident lawyers, I and my staff have seen the results of some very serious car, truck and motorcycle crashes. Many of these involved serious injuries — from compound fractures and internal organ damage, to closed-head trauma and permanent paralysis; some collisions resulted in death of the victim.

Car and trucking-related accidents come in a variety of types and severity. While one would think that maybe a single-car or truck wreck would be less serious than a multiple-vehicle accident, single-vehicle accidents can be one of the worst, especially in the case of a rollover.

We’ve all seen the results of a rollover accident on the highway. Although one may not have realized it at the time some of these rollover accidents involve serious or fatal injuries to one or more of the vehicle occupants. How can this kind of accident, which affects many different vehicles yet tends to be more common in taller vehicles (such as SUVs, Minivans and van-based shuttle buses), be so deadly for the driver and passengers?

First of all, we’ll just say that the statistics point to a high rate of injuries and deaths from accidents that involve occupants being thrown from their vehicle — ejected, as the traffic safety experts say. In fact, it has been well known for years that drivers and passengers are many times more likely to die or received serious injury if they are ejected from a vehicle during a crash.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), which cites numerous studies that refer to data showing that partially- or completely-ejected occupants have up to a three-fold greater chance of dying than those who remain within the relative safety of the vehicle structure. This is due in large part to the fact that an individual ejected from a vehicle has a high probability of impacting another object, which typically results in that person receiving serious injuries, such as traumatic brain injury, spinal cord damage, resultant paralysis, potential amputation, internal bleeding and multiple fractures.

An unfortunate contributor to being injured in a rollover is not wearing one’s seatbelt, which in many cases can be the largest reason for a victim not remaining inside the car or truck. The reason is simple; as a vehicle rolls — violently, in many cases — any unbelted occupants inside the vehicle will be thrown around the interior of the car, truck or bus with only the windows and doors to hold them in. Because windows break and doors can pop open in a bad rollover collision, an ejected passenger is a common scenario.

Poor vehicle design or poorly manufactured components and parts can increase the chances of a single-vehicle crash and subsequent rollover situation. Many safety experts have indicted the poor designs of numerous vehicles, including certain sport utility vehicles (SUVs) and 15-passenger vans, due in large part to these vehicles’ higher center of gravity, and exacerbated by potentially poor heavy cargo handling capability.

As alluded to above, seatbelt use is one of the few things that a passenger can do for him or herself to improve their chances of surviving a bad rollover crash. In fact, those NHTSA studies show seatbelt use as the best way to avoid being thrown from a vehicle during a traffic collision, rollover accidents included.

Of course, the trouble with any safety device is potential for a defective part or component. Incidents of defective seatbelts and door latches have resulted in injuries and deaths when otherwise the passengers may have only received minor, non-life-threatening injuries. In cases where a safety component may have failed, a victim or the victim’s estate may bring a lawsuit against a manufacturer or retailer in the form of a products liability suit.

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