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Since their rise to the forefront of the U.S. vehicle market in the late 1980s, SUVs have been the ride of choice for rugged outdoors people and urban parents alike who appreciate the protection of a substantially built vehicle both off-road and carpooling with kids. However, since their inception, SUVs have been shadowed by the onus of being at higher risk for rollover accidents than pick-ups or passenger cars on American roadways.
Due to the reputation that many older SUV models have earned for flipping under certain conditions, drivers of SUVs in the Southern California region who have experienced such an incident should consult with a San Diego suv rollover accident lawyer. The poor safety history of particular makes and models can translate into a significant difference in the recovery of damages.
According to the U.S. Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), “A vehicle is classified as rolling over if it tips onto its side or roof at any time during the crash. The rollover may occur subsequent to a frontal or side impact with another vehicle or a fixed object. Many rollovers occur after a vehicle leaves the roadway and may lead to occupants being ejected from the vehicle, increasing the likelihood of a fatality.”
The attorneys at our San Diego law offices have the knowledge and experience to explain your rights to compensation for an SUV roll-over injury, whether due to a manufacturing defect or the negligence of other motorists. While we understand that no amount of money can fully atone for an accident injury or wrongful death, we will fight for you to win fair compensation for others’ negligence so that your medical costs and possible future loss of income are financially covered. In the majority of Southern California, including San Diego, injury liability cases, the presence of an experienced accident San Diego suv rollover lawyer increases your ability to win full compensation for injuries that resulted from the negligence of another driver or an SUV manufacturing defect.
History of SUV Safety Issues
When the first SUVs coasted off the auto assembly lines more than two decades ago, consumers equated their sheer size with superior safety. This perception is accurate to a degree, given that a larger and heavier vehicle is likely to offer more protection to passengers in a multiple-vehicle accident. Statistics from the U.S. Insurance Institute for Highway Safety bear out the belief that size equates to safety since according to its data, those vehicles most often involved in traffic fatalities are small in size.
However, a 2002 exposé by the PBS news program Frontline reported that the SUV as a vehicle class had a dangerous propensity to roll over. As of the date, the program was aired, 12,000 people had died in SUV rollover incidents. Because most early SUV models were tall but built on a relatively narrow wheelbase, they had an inherent, top-heavy imbalance that could cause them to roll at speeds as low as 20 miles per hour.
The Bronco II, one of Ford Motor Company’s initial entries in the SUV arena late in the 1980s, was the subject of hundreds of liability lawsuits due to drivers wrongfully injured or killed when their Bronco IIs rolled over. Despite prior knowledge of Ford design engineers that the SUVs were unsafely balanced, the automaker continued to produce the Bronco II, and only when a flood of litigation made clear that the SUV was unsafe did the general public become aware of the problem. Other early SUVs that became infamous for their rollover tendencies include the Suzuki Samurai and the Isuzu Trooper II.
Despite reluctance of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) during the final decades of the 20th century to institute recalls of SUVs with proven rollover dangers, attorneys based on San Diego and across the country representing thousands of SUV roll-over accident victims were able to not only recover product liability settlements for their clients but force the SUV industry to make these vehicles safer.
Safety Improvements in Newer SUV Models
Over the past few years, SUV manufacturers have installed innovative technology in their big vehicles that improve stability. A June 2011 story from CNN Money touts one particular feature that has brought about the biggest strides in SUV safety: electronic stability control (ESC). This component is a computer-controlled system that helps drivers to compensate for inclement road conditions or emergency driving maneuvers and maintain better control of the vehicle. When the ESC system detects the car skidding, it makes adjustments in braking on individual wheels to help the driver steer more effectively mid-slide. Because a skid often precipitates a roll-over, this new handling assistance technology has helped to reduce the incidences of SUV roll-overs. Check with your San Diego automaker if your SUV has some of the devices or functions mentioned above.
SUV designers have also made changes in the profile of many contemporary models with the goal of improving their stability. In some cases, automakers have converted the more cumbersome SUV profile to a lower-to-the-ground, broader-based crossover design.
However, those older SUVs that predate these safety innovations are still ubiquitous on San Diego and all U.S. roads. If you or your loved ones have been injured in a rollover or other injury accident in Southern California, consulting with a San Diego roll-over accident lawyer will help you obtain the compensation to which you are entitled. Whether your legal team determines that your injuries are the result of auto manufacturer defects or the negligence of another driver, your rollover accident attorney based in San Diego is best qualified to fight for your rights in a court of law.
Our San Diego injury liability law firm specializes in roll-over accidents and has 30 years of experience winning hundreds of thousands of dollars in compensation for our clients. Whether your accident is the result of manufacturing defects or another driver’s negligence, our legal team has the expertise to secure adequate compensation for your damages.
The Statistics on SUV Roll-over Injuries
2009 statistics from IIHS bear out the improvements the auto industry has made in terms of SUV safety, however in general the numbers also illustrate the safety hazards of driving an SUV. Of three categories of privately operated vehicles — cars, pickup trucks, and SUVs — IIHS rates SUVs to be the safest in terms of accident fatalities, with just 17 percent as compared to 22 percent for pickups and 60 percent of total traffic fatalities for cars. However, of the single-car fatalities involving SUVs, 40 percent occur in roll-over accidents.
Further SUV traffic accident information contained in the 2009 IIHS report includes:
• Since 1978, SUVs and pickup trucks have consistently been involved in more rollover deaths than cars
• Occupant fatalities in 46 percent of all single-vehicle rollover accidents involved SUVs, while pickups were involved in 40 percent and cars in just 21 percent
• Numbers of SUVs involved in single-vehicle rollovers have steadily decreased since 1978
If you have become an SUV roll-over statistic, call your San Diego roll-over accident lawyer without delay. While we understand that financial compensation does not repair the physical and mental pain caused by those at fault for your injury, it will ease your resulting economic burdens, including medical care, time lost from work, and any extended health issues arising from the negligence of others.
Structural Safety Improvements
Increased attention brought to bear on the safety issues shared by many older SUV models has driven manufacturers to make structural improvements in their product designs that will better protect occupants from serious injury or death during a roll-over incident.
Improving vehicle roof strength can help an SUV meet or exceed national safety standards. In Insurance Institute for Highway Safety tests to determine compliance of mid-sized 2010 SUVs, results sanctioned 6 out of 11 models as having sufficient roof strength to meet the highest safety standards, one model as meeting acceptable standards and 5 as marginal.
IIHS research indicates that a vehicle’s roof strength is a decisive factor in predicting SUV roll-over fatalities. Stronger roofs resist crushing during a roll-over and help prevent passenger ejection as well since an intact roof helps preserve the integrity of the vehicle’s doors and windows. This is very important information, if you are going to buy an SUV ask your San Diego dealer for the safety test results.
Consumers shopping for an SUV in San Diego should carefully review IIHS safety ratings to help inform their choice of the safest SUV that meets their family’s needs. However, since not all SUV drivers can afford to upgrade their vehicles each time new safety features are added, many remain at greater risk for roll-over accidents than drivers of cars or light-duty trucks.
Call our office: (619) 752-2217.
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