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Sport utility vehicles, or SUVs, have been a popular option among consumers with growing families for decades. Its larger size and seating options are perfect for carrying extra people and more belongings. The larger size also gives the impression to buyers that it is safer and stronger than smaller cars. Despite its appearance, the SUV has developed a bad reputation for its high propensity to roll over.

If you or a loved one has been injured in a Birmingham, AL, SUV rollover, contact Norris Injury Lawyers right away. We have dedicated our lives to helping personal injury victims get the compensation they deserve. Serving your needs will be our priority from the moment you contact us for a free consultation. There is no fee unless you win, so you have nothing to lose.

Call Norris Injury Lawyers today at (800) 477-7510. You can even speak to a live agent 24/7 on our website.

SUV Rollover Statistics

In 2011, the NHTSA released a special study on the rollover phenomena related to SUVs. According to the report, an occupant is more likely to die in a rollover accident than any other type of vehicle. While rollovers only happen in 3 percent of crashes, they make up one-third of all occupant deaths. Also, one 2007 report found that SUVs were more likely to roll over than pickup trucks and passenger cars, making them the riskiest class of vehicles.

In 2004, the number of vehicles that suffered a rollover include:

  • 94,836 passenger cars
  • 11,116 vans
  • 48,933 pickup trucks
  • 56,962 SUVs

Factoring in how many of each type of vehicle were in the total number of crashes, the likelihood of being in a rollover accident is:

  • 10 percent for passenger vehicles
  • 9 percent for vans
  • 17 percent for pickup trucks
  • 23 percent for SUVs

In total, these numbers mean you may be some 2.3 times more likely to roll over in an SUV than in a typical passenger car.

If you were injured in a rollover accident, call Norris Injury Lawyers today. You may be able to claim compensation for your injuries, medical bills, and more.

Causes of SUV Rollover Accidents and Fatalities Revealed

The shape of an SUV’s wheels betrays its appearance of being safe. SUVs have a higher center of gravity and are narrow in width. This makes them top-heavy and easier to roll over than wider vehicles such as passenger cars, vans, or pickup trucks.

This explains why many rollover incidents were single-vehicle accidents. Momentum combined with bad weight distribution made SUVs prone to rolling over easily. A simple sharp turn was all it took. Manufacturers are now required to add a sticker inside every vehicle to warn consumers about making cautious turns since SUVs handle so differently from cars and trucks.

Roll bars nixed

Roll bars can help stop a vehicle from completely rolling onto its roof. SUVs were originally designed to be rugged, off-road vehicles with roll bars to keep from flipping. When these types of vehicles became the more popular option for families, the safety bar was removed mainly for aesthetics. This was done without finding a way to compensate for the loss of this important feature and resulted in further instability when rolling.

Poor roof crash ratings

The lack of a roll bar also explains why SUVs used to have a larger rollover death risk. Many older models had a poor roof crash rating that fell well below the NHTSA standard for safety. When an SUV rolled over, the roof was not strong enough to handle the weight and collapsed inward. Accident victims were often crushed and suffered significant head injuries. SUVs today are made with thicker, stronger roofs to help prevent crushing deaths.

Injuries Caused by SUV Rollover Accidents

When someone loses control of an SUV, the situation can become dire. If the vehicle’s roof collapses or an occupant is ejected from the vehicle , injuries can be severe or even fatal. Ejections are more common when an occupant does not wear a seatbelt.

Injuries caused by an SUV rollover include:

  • Neck and back injuries
  • Spinal cord damage
  • Crushed skill
  • Punctured lungs
  • Broken bones
  • Loss of limbs
  • Traumatic brain injury
  • Paralysis
  • Internal organ damage
  • Cuts and bruises
  • Lacerations

A History of SUV Negligence

One might assume that SUV manufacturers were surprised by the design flaw in their vehicles, but the truth may be more sinister. Data indicates that SUV manufacturers knew of the problem beforehand and did nothing about it. This is extreme negligence that may have led to the deaths of over 12,000 people by 2002.

According to a report from the Environmental Working Group, Ford worked hard to cover up how dangerous their SUVs were. In the early 1980s, Ford released their first SUV called the Bronco II. The report explains that they knew this vehicle was susceptible to rollovers from the very beginning. They did make a few small changes, hoping to improve its stability, but the changes failed. Ford even stopped pre-production tests because the model was too dangerous for safety testing.

All about the money

Engineers made several requests to executives that they widen the Bronco II to make it safer, but the requests fell on deaf ears. Over 30 lawsuits were brought to Ford over the next 8 years. As a defense tactic, the company reportedly paid its former engineer over $5 million to lie about the Bronco II’s safety record in each of the lawsuits.

Instead of pulling the Bronco II from the market, they re-released it under a new name. This is how the Ford Explorer was born. Car and Driver lists the Ford Explorer as the bestselling three-row SUV of 2020 in the US.

The government kept quiet about SUV deaths

A PBS Frontline investigation into the SUV rollover phenomenon looked at the government’s role in SUV deaths. The NHTSA was created in the 1960s to help reduce the number of injuries and deaths from car accidents. The problems started when the Reagan Administration came into power in 1981 and continued well into the early 2000s. Any news that could hamper the auto industry was shoved under the rug.

At the time of Reagan’s inauguration, the auto industry was suffering. The president made campaign promises to deregulate the industry to give it a shot in the arm, hoping to increase jobs. Many pro-industry Democrats joined in the fight. The Democratic House Commerce Committee chairman, John Dingell, was from Dearborn, Michigan. This made it easy for Reagan to make the changes he needed to make unopposed.

Budget cuts

The NHTSA’s budget was slashed and the agency was now directed to focus on cutting industry-killing regulations. At the same time, deaths from SUV rollover accidents were increasing. The NHTSA considered the Bronco II to be the deadliest vehicle on the market. Despite that designation, they denied a petition to investigate the crashes.

New rollover standards rejected

In the 1990s, under the Clinton administration, the NHTSA rejected a push to create new rollover standards. These standards were deemed too expensive to implement, so they instead opted to add a sticker to new SUVs to warn consumers.

Congress did not act until the early 2000s, when the Firestone tire controversy highlighted safety concerns. This led to the creation of the TREAD Act. The 2002 Explorer finally included a wider body in compliance with the new law.

Modern SUVs are still a problem

A 2020 study from IIHS found that SUVs are more likely to kill pedestrians than cars. In fact, the number of pedestrians killed has risen steadily with the number of SUVs owned. Overall,  pedestrian deaths increased 53 percent from 2009 to 2018. They now account for over one-fifth of all accident deaths. Sadly, the number of SUVs striking and killing pedestrians also rose 81 percent during that same time frame.

Recoverable Damages After an SUV Rollover Accident

While attempts have been made in recent years to make SUVs safer, they are still susceptible to rolling over. Attempts made by manufacturers to hide these dangers should never be tolerated. If you have been injured in an SUV rollover accident, you are entitled to make a claim for compensation.

The types of compensation you can receive include:

  • Pain and suffering
  • Medical expenses
  • Lost wages
  • Emotional distress
  • Loss of consortium

These damages are both for current and future medical expenses. A rollover accident lawyer will be able to show how the accident impacted your life. Recovery can take months or years. There is even a chance that you will face permanent disability. All future medical care will be considered, as well as the earnings you would have made over that time.

If the accident resulted in death, the surviving family members will be able to bring a wrongful death suit against those responsible. This can include funeral expenses and loss of financial support. In these cases, it is not uncommon to ask for compensation for loss of affection, love, and companionship (or loss of consortium).

Contact Norris Injury Lawyers Today

Norris Injury Lawyers has over 40 years of experience in providing legal services to personal injury victims. When you work with us, you can rest assured that your needs are our priority.

Our family-owned Birmingham, AL, law firm exists to offer you compassionate support while we fight for your rights. You can rely on us to take care of your legal needs while you focus on recovering from your accident.

You can call us today at (800) 477-7510 or chat with one of our online agents. We are available 24/7 for a free consultation on your case.