The perception among drivers is that bigger is better, and therefore SUVs—which are bigger than other cars—must be safer. Unfortunately, this perception is not correct. SUVs, which are not only bigger but taller than other kinds of cars and trucks, have a disturbing tendency to roll over, which results in more serious accidents. Almost every make and model of SUVs have this problem.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, SUVs roll over at more than twice the rate of other vehicles. As a result, the government requires SUVs to bear a warning label telling drivers that they are in danger of rolling over if they make a sharp turn, which they may have to do to avoid a collision. Of course, the problem is that merely warning a driver that this is the case does nothing to change the basic bad design, and, when a driver is faced with the choice of either plowing into another car or making a potentially dangerous sharp turn, most drivers will make the turn, resulting in many rollover accidents.
SUVs tend to be taller than cars, tend to have a higher ground clearance, and tend to have a narrower distance between their wheels, all of which combine to give SUVs a higher center of gravity that makes it easier for them to tip over. The size of SUVs means that they can be (and often are) heavily loaded, and extra weight actually makes it more likely that the SUV will roll over in a crash. The fact that most people use their SUVs as a family car rather than as an off‑road vehicle has led most SUV manufacturers to remove roll bars from their SUVs—roll bars that would provide some protection in the event of a rollover.
Many SUV manufacturers tout the steps that they have taken to increase safety, but none of these steps involves any fundamental redesign of SUVs to make them safer. Instead, manufacturers claim that they have tested their SUVs and have found them difficult to roll over, but what they do not tell you is that these tests were conducted with lightly loaded SUVs driven by professional drivers, and the reactions of these drivers have very little to do with how an ordinary driver with three kids and a car full of groceries would react in the same situation. Also, don't be fooled by the number of “stars” that an SUV has received—statistics show that even an SUV that has a five‑star crash rating still has a 10% chance of rolling over in a single‑vehicle crash.
The proof of the danger presented by SUV rollovers is shown in accident statistics. In the real world, rollover accidents are far more likely to result in death than are other kinds of accidents, and SUVs are involved in more rollover accidents than are other kinds of passenger vehicles. The propensity of SUVs to roll over means that while single‑vehicle rollover accidents accounted for only 19% of passenger deaths in cars, they caused more than half (53%) of the passenger deaths in SUVs.
Litigating SUV rollover cases can be complex and usually requires proving that a maneuver that is commonly performed by drivers and that would not have caused a car to roll over did cause the SUV to roll over, and that, after it rolled over, its design was not enough to protect the occupants from injury. This involves knowledge of not only state laws governing negligence, but also federal safety regulations and the law of corporate liability and products liability.
If you or someone you love has been involved in an SUV rollover accident, you may have a claim against the manufacturer and others for any injuries that have been suffered. Do not settle for less than what you are due. Contact our firm. We will be happy to discuss your case with you.
If you or someone you know has been injured in a rollover accident involving an SUV, take the following steps immediately:
- Take pictures of the location of the accident and of the roadway, showing the layout of the road and any tire marks or scrapes.
- Take pictures of the SUV and other vehicles involved in the accident. You cannot have too many photos.
- Preserve the vehicle. If the SUV is totaled, the insurer will either pay you the value and keep the SUV or pay you the value minus the salvage cost and allow you to keep the wreck. BUY THE WRECK, or else it will be lost.
- Gather important documents, including police reports, the names and contact information of witnesses, and medical bills.
For more information on SUV rollovers visit the Worthington Law Group website.