When a rollover vehicle accident occurs, the car's roof strength plays a significant role in determining the extent of injuries for vehicle occupants. Many drivers and passengers suffer extensive injuries and fatalities every year due to defectively designed car roofs. Some vehicles have thin and unstable roofs, which collapse and crush inside when in a rollover accident. Vehicle manufacturers understand that durable vehicle roofs can save lives. The roof structure determines the head and neck injuries that vehicle occupants suffer during an accident. If you suffer injuries in a car accident due to a defective roof, San Diego Personal Injury Law Firm can help you seek compensation. 

Rollover Accidents and Roof Crush

Rollover accidents occur when a vehicle flips upside down. These accidents are among the most dangerous types of vehicle accidents. The accidents are even more critical if a car has a poorly manufactured or designed roof, which is unable to withstand force in case of an accident. A roof crush can lead to severe injuries or even death to the driver and the passengers inside a vehicle when an accident occurs.

Common injuries that result from roof crushes include fractures, severe spinal injuries, brain injuries, and paralysis. The common types of spinal injuries include paraplegia and quadriplegia. You will need an experienced attorney to fight for you if a roof crush has contributed to your injuries in a vehicle accident. The manufacturer may not always be willing to admit fault.

Many deaths resulting from rollover accidents are preventable if the roof of a vehicle is stable. When a car rolls, its roof hits the ground. If the roof is not strong enough, it can deform and crush inward toward the driver and the passengers leading to injuries. A sturdy roof can help prevent the ejection of vehicle occupants through the windows and windshield. If the roof does not crush, the vehicle doors may not break or open.

The quality of a vehicle's roof should meet the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard 216. This standard came into effect in 1973. The standard outlines that a vehicle's roof should be able to withstand a force, which is five times the weight of the car. In 1994, there was an amendment to the rule. The rule includes all passenger vehicles that do not exceed a gross weight rating of 6,000 pounds. Because the majority of pickups and SUVs exceed this weight limit, they are exempt from the Federal Safety Standard. 

Vehicles with the most durable roofs have a lower death rate in case of an accident than cars with weaker roofs.  More headspace between vehicle occupants and the roof of the vehicle saves more lives when an accident occurs. The fewer vehicle occupants touch the car roof, the more likely the reduction of injuries and the likelihood of death from a rollover accident. The majority of vehicle manufacturers have taken steps to improve consumer safety in their vehicles. However, it is unfortunate that some vehicle manufacturers have done little or nothing to protect consumers from roof crushes in case of rollover accidents. Therefore, personal injury lawsuits revolving around roof crushes are still prevalent in California.  A vehicle manufacturer should be liable for upholding the mentality that cost-cutting and corporate profits are more important than saving people's lives. 

If a vehicle’s roof does not give way but withstands to pressure in an accident, a rollover accident is relatively non-violent. Fatalities and extreme injuries may not occur for vehicle occupants wearing seat belts unless the roof comes crushing. Whether the roof caves-in or not determines the outcome of the vehicle occupants’ injuries in a rollover accident. 

Establishing Liability After an Accident

The law requires vehicle manufacturers to design and manufacture vehicles in a manner that enhances the safety of the vehicle occupants. Manufacturers owe this legal duty of care to their customers. A manufacturer should design and build vehicles in a manner that prevents specific foreseeable accident injuries. Foreseeable injuries include roof injuries.

In most personal injury lawsuits, it is often evident that the manufacturers were aware that the roof design of their vehicles was deficient but still failed to pay attention. Despite knowing that the roof design would pose a risk to vehicle occupants in case of any accidents, some manufacturers still release the vehicles to the market. Such negligence by vehicle manufacturers has led to preventable deaths and injuries. This negligence may render the vehicle manufacturer responsible for the injuries sustained by vehicle occupants in case of an accident.

In most cases, the underlying motive of manufacturers' negligence is to save money in vehicle manufacture and to avoid delaying the vehicle production. In some court cases, it is apparent that manufacturers are often aware of the design defects leading to a roof crush. Before releasing a vehicle to the market, the manufacturers have to do testing. The manufacturers may notice some anomalies in the vehicle's roof but still suppress the results and go ahead with vehicle production. The manufacturer may be to blame if it is evident that he/she was aware of the unreasonable potential for a deadly accident but still failed to act. 

Other manufacturing defects may also contribute to a roof crush. For instance, defective welds may lead to a caved-in roof resulting in spinal injuries like quadriplegia. Whether the error leading to a roof crush is in the design or manufacture of the roof or another vehicle part, the manufacturer should be liable.

Several parties may have contributed to your injuries in a roof crush accident. These parties may be liable alongside the manufacturer. For instance, the government may be accountable if a poor road condition also contributed to the accident. The agency responsible for maintaining the road, often the government, will be partly to blame. Another motorist may also be liable for contributing to the roof crush accident. A parts manufacturer might be responsible alongside the vehicle manufacturer if the accident occurred due to a defective vehicle part. 

You will need an experienced attorney to weigh the facts of the accident and identify all the parties who may have contributed to the accident. This will ensure that you get compensation from all the liable parties. 

Steps to Take After the Accident

You need solid evidence showing the connection between the strength of an automobile roof and the fatalities that occur in case of an accident. An expert witness can testify based on industry tests to show that a stronger roof would have reduced the impacts of the accident. An expert witness may also conduct independent tests to show that if it were not for the weak roof, the effects of the rollover accident would not have been so detrimental.

However, you also have a role to play. The steps you take after the accident will determine your chances of getting compensation. If you or a loved one suffers injuries in a roof crush accident, you should insist on obtaining a police report outlining the facts of the case. Your personal injury attorney can help you to get this report.

If you can, you should take pictures of the scene of the accident. Photograph the vehicle wreckage and all the visible injuries on your body. Ensure that you also obtain other essential information of the parties available at the accident scene. For instance, if some witnesses have gathered, you should get their contact details. Your personal injury attorney may later contact the witnesses to obtain valuable information from them to help support your personal injury lawsuit. If the accident also involved other motorists, you should get the name, address, insurance information, and vehicle license number of the other motorists. 

It is advisable to keep your mouth shut. You should not disclose details of the accident with any person other than your attorney or the doctor. You should not give any information to the insurance adjuster. It is essential to understand that the insurance adjuster is not on your side. The adjuster does not care about your wellbeing but is interested in saving money for the insurance company. Do not volunteer any statement to the insurance company.

You should not sign any document without consulting your personal injury attorney. Immediately after an accident, you are likely to feel confused. The insurance adjusters may take advantage of the situation and try to make you sign documents without understanding the implications of the documents. Ensure that you do not sign any document without first getting the consent of your attorney.

You should also seek immediate medical attention for your injuries. Ensure that you document all your injuries and your level of pain. You should request the doctor to document all your damages. The doctor's report will play a significant part as you seek compensation for your injuries.  You should keep all the receipts outlining the medical expenses you may have incurred. In case of the wrongful death of your loved one due to a roof crush, you should preserve funeral bills and all the relevant wage loss records. 

Ensure that you preserve your vehicle as it is with all the damages. Repairing the vehicle results in the loss of evidence. You should avoid destroying the evidence of your case before even an attorney gets started. Your personal injury attorney can assist you in recovering the vehicle and in arranging for the preservation of evidence.

The Role of a Personal Injury Attorney

Roof crush accidents are often expensive and complex to prosecute. You need to have an experienced attorney who can involve accident reconstruction experts, and other experts required to support your case.

Your personal injury attorney will navigate the federal standards relating to vehicle roof strength. Federal standards relating to vehicle roof strength are often complicated, and an attorney should fully understand them alongside the vehicle testing conducted by manufacturers.

An experienced attorney will also understand the various implications of roof testing methods and procedures adopted by vehicle manufacturers. When a roof crush accident occurs, manufacturers are often quick to defend themselves by outlining that they complied with the standards outlined in the federal laws. However, your attorney can attach this defense, especially if the manufacturer did not carry out the necessary roof-strength testing. 

Immediately after the accident, your attorney starts a prompt investigation into your injuries. These investigations usually begin soon after the accident. You should contact an attorney immediately after the accident. This allows the attorney to interact with the undisturbed scene of the accident. This will provide all the critical details that the attorney and the reconstruction experts will require to establish the primary cause of the car accident.

You cannot manage to handle a roof crush lawsuit on your own. Manufacturers vehemently contest roof crush cases. You will need to have a skilled and experienced attorney by your side. The manufacturers and their experts aim to prove that vehicle occupants suffered injuries due to other factors other than roof collapse. For instance, the manufacturers may blame the severity of the impact or the high speed of the vehicle. Your personal injury attorney will use expert witnesses to support your case. The experts can demonstrate the mechanics of your accident. For instance, experts can portray how the roof crush caused or enhanced injuries. This denies the manufacturers the opportunity to deny fault in the car accident. 

It is important to note that if you suffered injuries due to ejection from a vehicle during a rollover accident, the cause might still have been a defective vehicle roof. Most ejections in rollover accidents usually occur due to vehicle roof collapse. For instance, when a vehicle roof collapses, the airbags and the seatbelts may malfunction. The vehicle windows may also shutter and make you fly out of the vehicle. An experienced personal injury attorney can prove in court that the ejection occurred due to a roof crush and not due to failure to use a seat belt, for instance.

Expert Evidence/Testimony        

When you suffer injuries in a car accident involving a roof crush, experts in various areas may help to support your case. Your personal injury attorney will gather certain experts who can positively contribute to your personal injury lawsuit. Expert evidence can help the judge to understand all the dynamics of the roof crush accident and the injuries you may have sustained. The expert witnesses your attorney obtains will depend on several factors, including how complicated your case is and the severity of your injuries.  

Your attorney can include technical experts like engineers who will explore the dynamics of the accidents and explain the primary cause of the vehicle accident. Establishing all the likely causes of an accident and the factors that contributed to your injuries will help to establish the liable parties. 

When filing a personal injury lawsuit for your injuries, your attorney may incorporate the expert testimony of a vocational rehabilitation expert. This expert can shed light on the possible effects of injuries and disabilities resulting from the accident. For instance, the expert may highlight the physical limitations and the psychological and cognitive disabilities that may result from the accident. A vocational rehabilitation expert can make recommendations about what you may require in the future. For instance, you may require undergoing counseling or training before you can go back to your daily routine.

Medical experts will also come in handy in reporting about the extent of your injuries. The medical experts may include doctors, surgeons, and neuro-psychiatrists. The expert testimony from medical experts will outline the treatments you have undergone since the occurrence of the accident. The experts will also outline the medical treatment you may require in the future, including physiotherapy.

Your attorney may request the services of economic experts to help determine and quantify the number of lost earnings you may incur. After suffering injuries in the roof crush accident, you may no longer be able to attend to your daily activities due to the injuries. You need to have a correct computation of lost earnings to help you seek the compensation you deserve. 

Damages Available in a Roof Crush Accident 

After suffering injuries in a car accident due to roof crush, you will be entitled to compensation for your losses and injuries. With the help of an experienced personal injury attorney, you can outline the injuries you may have suffered due to the accident. Some of the damages that may be available include:

  1. Medical Bills

In a roof crush case, the damages suffered can be substantial, and you may incur hefty costs in seeking medical treatment. You may, therefore, be entitled to compensation for past and current medical bills since the occurrence of the accident. You may suffer severe injuries, which may call for hospitalization or even surgery.

If you suffer extensive injuries, you may require significant treatment in the future. Catastrophic injuries sustained in a roof crush accident may require ongoing treatment throughout your life. You will need a medical expert to outline whether you will require life-long care. Your attorney will consolidate a life medical care plan accounting for all the medical treatments you may require in the future. You have to consider all medical costs, including the cost of medication and rehabilitation costs.

  1. Lost Wages

You may spend some time away from work after suffering injuries in a car accident involving a roof crush. You are entitled to compensation for your past, current, and future earnings due to your inability to continue working. 

When computing the lost wages, the court will consider your hourly rate of pay. The court can also consider the commissions you may have earned at work and other benefits like bonuses. The compensation you receive will depend on the time you spend out of work.

  1. Loss of Earning Capacity

Suffering injuries in a roof crush accident may affect your ability to earn money in the future. The inability to earn money in the future, typically known as loss of earning capacity, is compensable under California law. The compensation for loss of earning capacity will vary from one individual to the other. The court may consider the amount of money you used to earn before the accident. The court will also consider your age and the time remaining before you retire. 

In some instances, you may be able to return to work after the accident. However, you may have a reduced work life due to the degenerative nature of your injuries. You may require retraining or counseling before you can resume work. Even if you resume work, your productivity may be much lower than before you suffered injuries. With the help of an experienced attorney, you can recover the money, which will compensate you for your unique loss of earning capacity.

  1. Pain and Suffering

Suffering injuries in an accident often come with immense pain and suffering. With the help of an attorney, you can be able to get compensation for pain and suffering associated with the injuries you suffer in an accident. Short-term or long-term impairment of your health may affect your enjoyment of life.

  1. Loss of Enjoyment of Life

After suffering injuries, you may not be able to enjoy life the way you did before the accident. For instance, you may not be able to engage in sporting activities and other hobbies. You may not be able to take part in entertainment activities. You may not be in a position to visit your favorite entertainment joints.

There will be an increased likelihood of suffering from infections and medical complications. You may also have a reduced life expectancy. For these factors, you should seek compensation for the loss of enjoyment of life.

  1. Wrongful Death

If your loved one dies due to injuries suffered in a roof crush accident, you can seek compensation for wrongful death.  You can be able to recover lost earnings for the deceased person. You may also seek compensation for loss of companionship and support from the deceased. You are also entitled to compensation for funeral expenses.

Find a San Diego Personal Injury Near Me

Vehicle manufacturers and other defendants may deny fault in a roof crush accident. You need to have a competent personal injury attorney to represent you.  San Diego Personal Injury Law Firm can help you seek compensation after suffering injuries in an accident. Contact us at 619-478-4059 and talk to a competent attorney today.