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The Danger of Rollover Accidents

Rollover accidents pose the greatest risk of injury to drivers and occupants of trucks and SUVs. According to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) the number of serious injuries increases 33 percent when a car rolls over in a crash. When this happens, tremendous pressure is forced on passengers' heads and necks, thereby causing debilitating injuries. The NHTSA reports that 280,000 rollover accidents occur each year, and that 10,000 people die in these crashes annually.

Rollover accidents are most common in sport utility vehicles and other vehicles having a high center of gravity and a narrow wheelbase. These elements can make the vehicle unstable in sharp turns and evasive maneuvers. In 2001, the NHTSA started evaluating vehicles based on a five-star system that took into account the vehicle's center and the width between its front tires. One star represents a 40 percent chance of a car rolling over. Vehicles with a five-star rating have a 10 percent chance of being in such an accident. Research data was based on 86,000 single vehicle accidents.

This is very important for consumers. As a matter of law, automakers have a duty to build cars with all required elements to protect passengers in the event of a crash. Essentially, they can be held strictly liable for selling vehicles with defects that harm consumers or neglecting to add safety features that can protect them. This is especially important if basic technology is available to prevent rollovers.

Currently, there is no federal standard for preventing rollover accidents, but the NHTSA has issued a recommendation that all vehicles (beginning with 2012 models) have some type of electronic stability system installed to keep them on the road when sharp turns are made. Most manufacturers have complied with this recommendation. For example, General Motors installs its Stabilitrak Electronic Stability Control system in all large and midsize SUVs. Likewise, Nissan's Vehicle Dynamic Control system is part of its crossover vehicles. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) estimates that 85 percent of 2010 model year vehicles have electronic stability systems.

If you have been injured in a rollover accident, an experienced personal injury attorney can advise you of your rights and options.

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