San Francisco Injury Lawyer Blog

Articles Posted in Rollovers

Car accidents are often frightening, but rollovers are downright terrifying. Disrupting one’s sense of equilibrium can be exhilarating and fun (for the right people!) when on a roller coaster, but the same feeling is petrifying on the highway. Rollovers epitomize the lack of control driver’s experience in almost any accident. They are among the most dangerous and most deadly vehicle accidents and our Bay Area accident attorney is committed to helping the victims and ensuring their rights are protected.

Two Recent Accidents in Vallejo Show the Threat of Rollover Accidents
The Times Herald reports that an accident on Sonoma Boulevard in North Vallejo sent three people to the hospital on Monday morning. Witnesses say a Nissan pick-up truck was heading north on Broadway when it ran a traffic light, struck a curb, and passed through a Chevron station and the McDonald’s parking lot. Before rolling over and coming to a stop driver’s side down in the drive-thru lane, the truck hit two cars, one of which struck a third vehicle. Two of the other drivers reported pain and were taken to the hospital. The truck driver was hospitalized for possible seizures, which may have sparked the chain of events. An investigation is underway.

Last week, 28 year-old Nicole Allen lost her life in another Vallejo rollover accident. Per the Times Herald, she was traveling west on State Route 37 when she “made an unsafe turning movement” causing her to fishtail and lose control. She hit a concrete divider and her 2009 Infiniti began to roll. Allen, who was not wearing a seatbelt, was ejected from the vehicle and died at the scene.

Rollover Statistics & Causes
Rollover crashes are one of the deadliest forms of vehicle accidents, according to Safercar.Gov, a webpage produced by the Department of Transportation and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (“NHTSA”). Only 2.1% of the nearly 9.1 million collisions in 2010 involved a rollover, but rollovers still claimed more than 7,600 lives and accounted for almost 35% of the year’s traffic deaths.

roll.jpgAny vehicle can roll, but the higher center of gravity in tall, narrow vehicles makes them more susceptible to a rollover. When looking at rollovers, the NHTSA divides them into tripped and un-tripped events. Tripped rollovers, which include 95% of all single-vehicle rollovers, occur when a vehicle leaves the road, slide, and either digs into the dirt or strikes a guardrail or curb. The events cause a high tripping force that leads to the roll. A smaller group of un-tripped single-vehicle rollovers usually occur during high-speed accident avoidance attempts and typically involve top-heavy vehicles.

Noting that 85% of fatal rollovers are single-vehicle events, the NHTSA suggests that driver behavior is a major factor in rollovers and that these accidents are about the interaction between the driver, the vehicle, the road, and environmental elements. This means that, while it is certainly often the case, one cannot simply assume the driver of the rolled vehicle was at fault. For example, a major pothole, faulty control systems, or even an attempt to avoid a swerving drunk driver are all potential causes.

California Rollover Lawyer
Whether they were the driver of the rolled vehicle, a bystander hit by the rolling vehicle, or other involved party, we serve victims of rollover accidents. If someone else caused a rollover crash in Northern California that left you injured or killed a loved one, call our Vallejo injury attorney. We have offices throughout Northern California to serve your needs and protect your legal rights.

See Related Blog Posts:
Statistics and Law in Northern California Ejection Accidents

San Francisco Accident Attorney on Danger of Rollover Accidents

One of the first and most important parts of working with a new client in our injury law firm is listening to the client’s story. We recognize that this can be difficult and that telling the story often means reliving some of the most terrifying moments in the individual’s life. In other cases, telling the story means relating (and imagining) the final moments of a loved one’s life. Some of the scariest car accident stories we hear involve crashes where one or more of a vehicle’s occupants is ejected from the automobile. Ejection accidents are always serious and often fatal. Our San Francisco ejection accident law firm is committed to representing the victims of these crashes. This includes helping our client win money for the pain and suffering caused by these terrifying collisions whether the client is the injured victim or a loved one imagining the final moments of a deceased relative.

Vacaville Accident Leaves One Dead, One Seriously Injured
In the early morning hours of Saturday July 13, as reported by the San Francisco Chronicle, an accident claimed a life in Vacaville, a city is located on I-80 between Sacramento and San Francisco. According to Officer James Evans of the California Highway Patrol, the accident occurred shortly before 5 A.M. at the intersection of Foothill Drive and Pleasants Valley Road. Responding officers found an overturned 1994 Chevy Camaro with one person trapped inside and another partially ejected from the vehicles. Evans noted that one victim was pronounced dead at the scene while the other, he did not know which, was transported to UC Davis Medical Center with major injuries.

Ejection Statistics flip.jpg
While discussing data on seat belt use, the Center for Disease Control also comments on the danger of ejection. Looking at crash data, the agency found that victims who were unbelted were 30 times more likely than to be ejected during a collision than those wearing seat belts. Another figure makes this statistic even more meaningful – more than 75% of those who are ejected from a vehicle during a crash die from their injuries.

A report by the National Center for Statistics and Analysis (“NCSA”) titled “Passenger Vehicle Occupant Fatalities by Restraint Use and Ejection Status, 2003” further examines the link between fatal accidents, restraint use, and ejection. The study notes that being unrestrained leads to a greater risk of serious injuries and also a greater risk of ejection. Examining fatal accidents, the NCSA found that only 6% of belted passenger vehicle occupants were ejected (either partially or totally) while 44% of the fatally injured unbelted occupants were ejected (again, either partially or completely). Looking at vehicle types, SUVs had the highest rate of fatally injured unrestrained victims who experienced ejection.

The CDC and NCSA data make two points clear: 1) Ejection crashes are dangerous and often fatal; 2) Seatbelts provide protection against ejection. Using a seatbelt to prevent ejection is particularly key for occupants of SUVs because those vehicles have a greater ejection risk. The fact that seatbelts save lives is not new information, but the risk of ejection is one additional reason to buckle up during every vehicle trip.

A Reminder About the Law: Real Plaintiffs May Not Be Perfect
We always encourage safety. However, we know that none of us our perfect; the law does not expect us to be. In both personal injury and wrongful death cases, we can help clients recover money damages even if the victim was not wearing a seat belt. Call our San Francisco car accident law firm to discuss your ejection case or any other serious car accident case where the victim was injured due to someone else’s negligent or wrongful acts in Northern California.

See Related Blog Posts:
San Francisco Accident Attorney on Danger of Rollover Accidents

Head-On Collisions: Less Common, But More Dangerous, Than Many Imagine

(Photo by “infinity” via stock.xchng)

Yesterday a crash at 19th and Valencia Street in the Mission District in San Francisco sent one person to the hospital with minor injuries. The crash occurred at 7:15 a.m. and involved three vehicles, according to One car actually overturned, trapping the driver inside. The driver was taken to San Francisco General Hospital to be treated for minor injuries. The other two drivers were not hurt. Today a big-rig overturned on an off-ramp from southbound U.S. Highway 101 in San Francisco, also according to The big-rig overturned at around 9:40 a.m. on the eastbound Cesar Chavez Street off-ramp from southbound Highway 101. No other vehicles were involved, and the driver of the overturned 16-wheeler was not injured.

Many accidents are caused because vehicles are driven in unsafe ways or in unsuitable conditions. In general if vehicle is overloaded and drives to fast around a corner, then it will more than likely overturn. A driver who does not wear a seatbelt and overturns in an accident is more likely to suffer an injury than drivers who do. In order to avoid overturning, drivers should remember to follow the speed limit and with caution on wet, slippery roads, when driving down steep slopes, or when approaching curbs and sharp turns. Also, drivers should make sure the loads they carry are appropriate for their vehicle, as overloaded or unevenly distributed loads can make a vehicle unstable, making it difficult to steer and brake.

Relatively speaking, it can be common for a serious accident to result in a vehicle overturning. When a vehicle overturns, it can cause serious injuries, such as head trauma, brain injury, neck and spinal injuries, and broken bones. Even vehicles driving at low speeds can experience a rollover and incur serious damage to both the vehicle and driver. Sometimes the drivers are at fault and sometimes the vehicle manufacturer is responsible. If you or a loved suffered an injuries due to a rollover accident, please contact our experienced rollover accident attorney today.

A 48-year-old Oakland man driving to Reno with his family was killed when he crashed and rolled over on eastbound interstate highway 80 in Albany yesterday morning, according to The man was driving a white Ford Explorer when he suddenly veered to the left, overcorrected, and then lost control. The SUV rolled multiple times before coming to rest. The man was pronounced dead at the scene, while his wife had a broken leg and his children, ages 10 and 12, suffered minor to moderate injuries. The wife was on the phone of the time of the crash. She was talking to family members who were also heading up to Reno. The family members told the CHP that the line went dead and when they called back, there was no answer. When they did get through after a few minutes, they heard sirens and commotion. The CHP are not sure if he was distracted at the time of the crash. They did say, however, there was no indication that alcohol was a factor.

This story brings up an important and forgotten fact about SUV’s: they are not vehicles built for safety. What is more, people die just as often in SUV’s as they do in cars, and people who drive SUV’s are more likely to die in a rollover than someone in a car. The simple truth is that the biggest SUV’s doesn’t make you safer than if you were in a large car or minivan. SUV’s make people feel they are in control and in charge, but that is just an illusion. Even though many more safety features are being built into vehicles today, many can’t afford them. Perhaps some of the newer models are safer, but it is hard to know for sure, as we still don’t see car companies making SUV’s safe in all foreseeable types of crashes, especially rollovers. Here at the Brod Law Firm, we believe the real and only way for a consumer to stay safe is to be an informed consumer. If you or a loved one suffered an injury in a rollover crash, contact our firm for a free consultation. We have over 10 years experience representing clients involved in violent SUV rollovers and can help you receive the compensation you deserve.

Spride, a provider of personal vehicle sharing services, and City CarShare, a Bay Area nonprofit car sharing organization have announced the availability of the first personal vehicle share program within a car sharing fleet. The new Spride Share pilot program enables car owners to loan their vehicles to members of City CarShare, which has more than 13,000 members, by equipping their cars with City CarShare’s access and tracking technology. The launch of the program is directly related to Assembly Bil 1871, a bill that Governor Schwarzenegger recently signed into law. The new law establishes that personal vehicle sharing does not constitute a commercial use of the automobile, eliminating the primary barrier to broad adoption of personal car sharing opportunities. Prior to the law, car owners ran the risk of losing their personal auto insurance if they received compensation for sharing their cars.

Now car owners can make their cars available for hourly reservations, and members can conveniently locate, reserve, and gain access to a car using their phone. What is more, car owners can make money by sharing something they already own, while the cost for borrowers is only about $7 dollars an hour. Because choosing reliable transportation in the bay area is always a challenge, car sharing may prove to be bay area resident’s greatest option. The program allows residents to collectively share the responsibility of reducing carbon emissions and eliminating some of the hassle their daily commuting routines, and it may just make commuters feel less harried and frantic, which may, in turn, lead to fewer accidents. Here at the Brod Law Firm we believe the creation of such program proves that citizens can band together to make up for the failures of public transportation, and the dissatisfaction and burden many people feel owning a car.

Last night, on July 22, 2010, a Greyhound bus heading from Los Angeles to Sacramento hit an overturned SUV, killing six people, including three passengers in the SUV, and injuring many more. The CHP (California Highway Patrol) has not determined what caused the SUV, a Chevy Trailblazer, to turn over, and it is unclear as to whether or not the headlights were on, which would have affected the Greyhound bus driver’s ability to see it.

There were more than 30 people on the bus, which was not equipped with seatbelts for its passengers. California Vehicle Code Section 23715 requires taxicabs to install seatbelts in their vehicles, which addresses the policy to reduce highway deaths and injuries by encouraging the use of seatbelts. While the cause of this tragedy has yet to be determined, if the Greyhound bus involved had seatbelts available to its passengers, the number of serious injuries, and possibly some fatalities, would almost certainly have been reduced.

If you or a member of your family has been involved in a bus accident or a vehicle rollover, please call the Brod Law Firm, P.C. for a free consultation.

Apropo our last blog, there is some addition information we would like to share. But before we do that, the following is a quick recap. Last week, according to AOL news, a Greyhound bus carrying 47 people on its way to Sacramento from Los Angeles crashed on a highway in California’s Central Valley on Thursday, killing six and injuring many others. The California Highway Patrol Officer at the scene said the bus driver swerved to try and avoid another crash involving an overturned SUV and slammed into a concrete center divider and then struck another vehicle shortly after 2am. The bus then went down an embankment, hit a eucalyptus tree and came to rest on a freeway off-ramp. 47 people were on board, six people died, and the driver was among the dead. This story brings to light two issues: SUV safety and bus safety.

First, this accident happened because the driver of the bus swerved to avoid an overturned SUV and could have been avoided if the SUV had not rolled over and obstructed the path of traffic, which forces the question–Why are some people are still under the impression that bigger is safer? Even though there is plenty evidence showing that SUV’s have a propensity for rollovers and instability at high speeds due their high center of gravity, plenty of people are still buying/driving them. Second, the accident resulted in serious injuries and 6 deaths, which forces the question–Can buses be made safer so that accidents such as this don’t have such catastrophic results? It turns out that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration(NHTSA) is making it a priority to improve motor coach safety. In a meeting held in June 2010 they announced specific ways in which they will go about doing that. They will begin by addressing the root causes of motor coach crashes, such as driver fatigue, inattention, medical conditions and the oversight of unsafe carriers. Then they plan to address the root causes of fatalities and injuries in motor coaches by developing requirements for seatbelts for all seating positions to prevent ejections, strengthening the bus structure surrounding the windows to improve their crashworthiness, conducting verification rollover testing, develop performance requirements for motor coach structural integrity, leasing and testing Electronic Stability Controls to decide if they should be standard, upgrading the performance of tires used on motor coaches, and developing more stringent flammability and fire countermeasures and detection requirements. Here at the Brod Law Firm, we believe that consumers decisions about what form of travel they purchase should be tempered by their own research into the risks involved-which may, or may not, give them a better chance of staying safe than if they had not.

Last month a federal court jury awarded $18.3 million in damages to a Bay Area musician who suffered a fractured spine and was paralyzed when his bands rented Ford E-350 van rolled over on an icy highway in 2005. During the rollover his seat broke loose from the floor and pinned him against the roof. Usually death or injuries that occur during a rollover are the result of vehicle instability, roof crush and other compartment failures, or defective seatbelts– all of which are preventable. The overall large number of drashes involving fifteen-passenger vans, especially loaded fifteen-passenger vans, have raised the question as to whether they are unusually susceptible to rollovers. According to a piece of research put out by the NHTSA, fifteen-passenger vans differ from most light truck vehicle in that they have large payload capacity and the occupants sit fairly high up in the vehicle. Therefore, when loaded, the vehicle may have a much worse rollover propensity. Also, when a 15 passenger van is loaded, its center of gravity shifts upward and rearward, increasing the likelihood to rollover. This shift in the center of gravity also increases the potential for loss of control and panic maneuvers.

Here at the Brod Law Firm, we believe the auto industry should be held accountable for death due to rollovers on roads and highways. As a result of the above mentioned types of litigation,and other types like it, the automobile industry is in the process of changing the design of these vehicles so that they are safer and more controllable. Some of the new technologies being employed are:
1. Electronic Steering Control, controls designed to assist drivers when they are in emergency situations. This technology helps drivers maintain control of the vehicle during extreme steering maneuvers by keeping the vehicle headed in the driver’s intended direction, even when the vehicle nears or exceeds the limits of road traction.
2. Rollover Air Bags that deploy downward from the overhead roof rail, very close to the side windows. The rollover sensing system can determine an imminent rollover when the roll angle is very small and all four wheels are still on the ground. When deployed as rollover air bags, side-impact head air bags will stay inflated longer to help protect the heads of the occupants during the rollover. They also keep the occupants of the outboard seats from being thrown from the vehicle. The combination of these air bags and properly worn safety belts can significantly reduce the chance of ejection.
3. Variable Ride-Height Suspension, a mechanism that raises or lowers the ride height of the vehicle while it is in motion. Some VRHS systems operate automatically, while others require the driver to select the appropriate mode. VRHS systems can have a favorable effect on a vehicle’s likelihood to rollover because they lower the height of the vehicle’s center of gravity and improve stability for highway driving.

In October 2003, a Jeep was rear-ended by a tractor trailer in Virginia, causing the Jeep to roll over several times. A passenger in the Jeep suffered brain damage as a result of the crash, and a Virginia jury awarded her $10.2 million dollars. The trucking firm that was a defendant in the case argued that the woman’s brain injuries were due to a previous incident, not the crash involving the Jeep. Although the jury awarded $10.2 million dollars, the matter was appealed, and the Virginia Supreme Court upheld the jury verdict.

It is 2009, nearly six years after this tragic event, and the injured woman is only now receiving closure to her ordeal, at least as far as it relates to the judicial process. Corporate defendants often do not take any responsibility, whatsoever, for the injuries they cause. Despite a jury of her peers finding that she was entitled to an award of damages, the corporate defendants in the Virginia case fought for years, undoubtedly spending hundreds of thousands of dollars. The “tort-reform” lobby, which is primarily funded by the insurance industry, puts massive efforts and spares no expense into labeling many lawsuits as “frivolous”. However, the public rarely hears about cases involving a “frivolous defenses”. There are many instances in which a corporate defendant or insurance company vigorously defends a claim (which results in a lawsuit), even though there is no good faith basis to do so, or even if it makes no sense from a financial basis. In many cases, the corporate defendant or insurance company will spend far more in defending a claim than the total amount sought by an injured person. The reason is to “send a message” to injured people that should they pursue their rights, it will be costly, time consuming, difficult, and will be fought tooth and nail. It is therefore very important to ensure that when an injured person in selecting a lawyer to help them, that the lawyer be prepared to vigorously fight for their rights.

The other day an article about a rollover accident, involving a black Ford Explorer in Orange County, California, caught our attention. The accident was a single vehicle accident in which the driver and passenger, an infant strapped in a car seat, were not injured after rolling over, at least once, through two lanes of traffic. We find stories such as these amazing, since so many rollover accidents usually end in injury or death of passengers. What is more, the amazing outcome of this accident proves car seats do save lives. According to a recent article in the Washington Post, regarding a study done by the Traffic Safety Center at the Department of Environmental Sciences at the UC Berkeley, placing infants and small children in age-appropriate car seats significantly reduces the odds that they will die if they are in a motor vehicle accident. Specifically, the study found, the odds of a baby under 1 year of age dying in a car accident dropped by 73 percent if the infant was riding in a baby car seat. And the odds of children between 1 and 2 dying in a collision went down by 76 percent when they were properly restrained. Also, car seats were found to be most effective in preventing fatalities in rollover accidents.
Not only are car seats important for providing safety to infants and toddlers, but finding the right safety car seat is key to saving their lives. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that all infants should ride rear- facing, starting with their first ride home from the hospital. Once a child has reached the highest weight allowed by the manufacturer of a rear-facing car seat, they should ride in a forward-facing seat. They should ride in a forward-facing seat with a harness until they outgrow it-usually when they are about 4 years of age. Booster seats are recommended for older children who have outgrown their forward-facing seats. And a child should stay in a booster seat until adult seat belts fit correctly-usually when the child reaches about 4’9″ in height and is between 8-12 years of age.
We, the attorneys here at the Brod Law Firm, find these tips very useful for anyone who drives with their children, as our most important concern is public safety. Although we are ready to assist anyone involved in any type of accident, whether it is catastrophic or minor, we are glad when we hear about accidents like this one involving an unharmed driver and infant after a rollover.