Last week, I wrote about the tragic story of Alex Brown, a teenager who was killed in a one-car collision when she was texting while driving. She lost control of her car, and it eventually rolled over. She was killed when she was ejected from the vehicle.
When I was watching the news story about her wreck, it occurred to me that her wreck was a good example of a roll-over accident. Because if you look at the cab of her truck, it is largely intact.
When people think of roll-over accidents, they immediately think that any survivors are lucky to be alive. But that’s not the case. In fact, the opposite is true. If the vehicles are doing their job and working properly, most people should survive roll-over accidents.
The biggest dangers in roll-over accidents occur when (1) occupants of the vehicle are ejected or partially ejected from the car and then get hurt; (2) the occupants are thrown around inside the vehicle and hit other objects in the vehicle; or (3) the roof of the vehicle caves in and crushes the occupant.
But today’s cars should now be designed to protect against all of these dangers. Vehicles are supposed to be designed to maintain a safe zone for the occupants so that occupants aren’t killed in these types of crashes. For example, properly functioning seat belts (and side air curtains in many new cars) will keep occupants from being ejected and from being thrown around in the vehicle. Similarly, vehicles should now be designed so that the roof and sides of the vehicle can take the forces from a roll-over without collapsing on the occupants.
So if you see serious injuries in a roll-over wreck and someone dies, the real question should be, “What went wrong?” Was the person in the vehicle not wearing a seat belt (and there are ways for our accident reconstructionists to go back and make this determination after a wreck)? Did the seat belt fail? Did the roof crush in?
If you have a loved one seriously injured in a roll-over collision, it’s very important that your attorney be familiar with these types of claims and able to look for them. And it’s really important to get an attorney fast. If the vehicle isn’t preserved, then any hopes of making a product defect claim are probably lost.
Now that you’ve read this, go back and watch the story about Alex Brown and look at her truck. Notice how the cab of the truck maintains its integrity. If she had not been ejected from the vehicle, she would probably be with us to tell her story herself.