Automobile “Rollover” Products Liability Cases

An automobile rollover accident is known as one of the most dangerous types of accidents that vehicle occupants can experience. When the rollover accident is not fatal, the resulting injuries are serious and disabling, with paralysis and traumatic brain injury commonly reported. Vehicle rollover litigation is very complex, even when the rollover involved a single car. A rollover accident is often the result of interactions among a driver’s action or non-action, the vehicle’s components, the roadway, and weather conditions. Many defective design actions have been litigated involving vehicle rollover accidents.

Of all vehicles, the sport utility vehicle has approximately three times more reported rollover accidents than other passenger vehicles. Sport utility vehicle (SUV) rollovers have been blamed on defective design. SUVs have high carriages and large frames. They have a dangerously high center of gravity and a narrow wheelbase that make them prone to rollover accidents. In the rollover, the vehicle literally flips over. The occupants are thrown about within the passenger compartment or thrown out of the vehicle.

In prosecuting and defending these types of accident cases, comparative accident statistics are offered in evidence. Plaintiffs want the statistics to show that the makers of SUVs had to know that their vehicles’ design made the SUVs prone to a significant risk of rollover accidents. Defendants want to show that any of the other factors in the rollover, like the driver’s actions, caused the accident.

 

Besides statistics, evidence showing that a vehicle was prone to rollover in actions against the designers and makers of SUVs and other vehicles can include videotapes, computer-generated simulations, and manufacturer’s advertising. The videotapes can show rollovers of the same vehicle. The advertising can show what the manufacturer anticipated as the driving public’s use of the vehicle. Injured SUV drivers and passengers have brought successful products liability cases based on the vehicle’s vulnerability to rollovers.