Our part of the country enjoys all four seasons, and we consider ourselves blessed and lucky for it. However, with that pleasure there are times when we have to deal with some pretty fierce weather. It’s part of the price we pay for living in such a beautiful, green, and pleasant locale. Like what?
Of course, those of us who live and work in Indiana and Illinois experience some very cold, hard freezes – even blizzards – in the winter. Ice on the roads is a given. Then there are the tornadoes (like those we discussed recently in Kokomo), as well as amazingly high winds and lightning-filled super cell thunderstorms. In the spring and summer, rains come fast and threaten our homes as well as our roadways with flash flooding.
All these things combine to make driving in our part of the country difficult on occasion. Who hasn’t been stuck driving in dangerously bad weather on the way home from work or school here?
Rollover Causes in Indiana and Illinois: Justice For Rollover Accident Victims
As we discussed in our last post, there are a shockingly high number of serious rollover crashes in Indiana and Illinois. Harsh and harried weather conditions are one of the big reasons that rollover accidents happen. However, weather is far from the only factor that contributes to the danger of a rollover.
We listed a variety of rollover accidents that had been reported in the past few weeks: these rollovers involved a single car, and multiple vehicles. Sometimes there was a sedan that rolled; other examples included big rig semi trucks; Sport Utility Vehicles; even an ATV was involved in a rollover recently here in Indiana.
However, there is no single common denominator for all those examples. Bad weather conditions cannot be faulted for all these rollovers. Each rollover crash is unique, and each rollover has to be investigated and studied to determine specifically what factors aligned to make that vehicle roll and crash.
Causes for rollovers other than weather can involve things like how fast the vehicle was moving at the time of the crash. The National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that around 40% of rollovers where people die in the accident have the vehicle driving over the speed limit.
Another contributing factor to many fatal rollover accidents is a driver who is operating the vehicle under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Rural roads are a common location for a deadly rollover crash; they don’t have things like concrete barriers or split lanes to protect an out-of-control vehicle from tipping over into a roll. Even routine can be a culprit in a rollover crash. Drivers doing something very routine, like driving a curve in the road, can end up in a rollover before they realize what’s happening.
There isn’t even just one kind of “rollover.” According to NHTSA, rollover crashes can involve “tripped” rollovers, where the vehicle leaves the road and slides into an object like a guardrail, or “un-tripped” rollovers, where a heavy vehicle (like a big rig semi truck) is going at a high rate of speed and as the wheel is jerked or the truck is suddenly veered in some way, the vehicle loses its balance and rolls. Most rollovers are “tripped” rollovers.
1. Rollover Crashes Are Often Deadly
One reason that we all need to be aware of the high danger of rollover accidents in our part of the country is because they are so often fatal. More people are killed in a rollover than in any other type of motor vehicle accident.
Moreover, those rollover accident victims who do not perish in the rollover crash itself are at high risk of serious and life-altering injuries to their head, neck, and spine. Specifically, rollover victims often face serious and permanent damage to their bodies from traumatic brain injuries and/or spinal cord injuries. These are the kinds of injuries that result in lesser mental functioning, or loss of the use of arms, legs, and permanent paralysis.
2. Propensity for Popular Local Vehicles to Roll
Here in Indiana and Illinois, pick up trucks and Sport Utility Vehicles are very popular vehicles. Things with all-wheel-drive or four-wheel-drive and a big engine can be very convenient when faced with driving to work in snow or sleet conditions. It make sense to own these big trucks and SUVs.
However, a drawback for many of these kinds of motor vehicles is their high center of gravity. Because they sit higher off the road, the driver and passengers must climb into them — and that’s a clue that they are high enough off the ground to be vulnerable to rolling over if they are in a collision, or if the driver loses control of the vehicle at high speed, or if the tires lose traction on ice or oil on the roadway.
Add to this the high number of semi trucks, big rigs, and tractor trailer trucks that drive routes here in Indiana and Illinois. These heavy commercial trucks are hard to control in the best of conditions. If the truck driver does spin or lose control of his rig, there is a higher risk for these behemoths to jackknife or roll over than other kinds of motor vehicles. It’s not unusual to read a news report out of Indiana or Illinois covering a fatal truck crash that includes a rig rollover.
3. Justice After a Rollover Accident in Indiana and Illinois
For those who suffer injuries in a rollover crash here in Illinois or Indiana, or for those loved ones who have tragically lost someone who was a victim of a fatal rollover crash, the accident laws of Indiana and Illinois are there to help them deal with the consequences of that rollover accident. Exactly how things like negligence laws; insurance claim and bad faith legislation; product liability and defective product regulations; or wrongful death statutes will come into play for these innocents will depend upon the specifics of that tragic event.
Every rollover accident must be evaluated by its own specific characteristics. Was a road hazard to blame? Was there a failure of the brakes? Did a faulty air bag deploy? Did another driver hit the vehicle? Did another driver force the vehicle off the road or curve and into a rollover? Did the weather contribute to the crash?
The responsibility for a serious or fatal rollover accident may lie with another driver. It may be that of the car’s manufacturer, or the company that provided a car part (like the Takata Air Bag, for instance). Sometimes, governmental entities, like municipalities, counties, or school districts, may ultimately bear the burden of causing a serious or fatal rollover accident.
As we enter a new school year and anticipate a joyous holiday season (and all that football followed by hockey and basketball), let’s all take a moment to evaluate the vehicle we drive as well as those driven by our loved ones, together with the routes we take to home and school and back.
Let’s be aware that we’ve got a risk in Indiana and Illinois of serious and even deadly rollover accidents and let’s be wary of the dangers that invite a rollover to happen.
And if there is a serious rollover crash, then we also need to understand how the state laws work to protect victims of rollover accidents in Indiana and Illinois. Let’s be careful out there!