A rollover can happen to anyone, but drivers with taller, narrower cars and trucks are more at risk. Furthermore, a collision with another vehicle is not required for this type of accident. For example, a poorly maintained road could cause a rollover. If this occurs, is the state responsible?
How a rollover can happen
A vehicle that has a high center of gravity, such as an SUV or van, is more at risk for rolling over than a traditional passenger car. When a vehicle rounds a curve, lateral forces shift the center of gravity, which can create an imbalance sufficient enough to cause a rollover. This kind of accident can also occur when a driver turns sharply in one direction then overcorrects, which sets up a pendulum-like swing leading to a loss of control.
In a single-vehicle accident, the rollover usually occurs because a wheel “trips” on something like a curb or, very often, a pothole. In fact, the federal government estimates that trips cause 95 percent of all rollovers, though some experts believe that number is too high. What usually happens is the vehicle leans in a certain way that causes the side of the tire that hits the curb or pothole to deform. The wheel rim then connects with the pavement, and the rollover begins.
Rollovers are not everyday occurrences; they represent just 3 percent of all the serious accidents across the U.S. However, this type of crash, in which occupants are violently tossed around or ejected from a vehicle, accounts for the deaths of about 30 percent of people riding as passengers. There could be any number of reasons for a rollover to occur, but one of them is a tripping incident on a poorly maintained road. City, state and county governments are responsible for maintaining safe roads and highways. One or more of these entities could, therefore, hold liability for a rollover and any injuries vehicle occupants sustain.