Minnesota’s Roll-Over Accident Lawyers

In past years, studies have shown that more than 9,000 people die and 50,000 are injured annually in vehicle rollover accidents. Studies have shown that rollover occupants suffer death or severe injury more than twice as often as non-rollover occupants in serious accidents. Rollover cases present unique issues that require the skill of an attorney experienced in rollover litigation. The attorneys at Hall Law have considerable experience successfully handling rollover cases. As a result, we are well acquainted with the complex issues presented by such claims and are uniquely positioned to ensure our clients receive the best possible result for their individual circumstances.

Rollover Dynamics

Rollover accidents often occur as a result of problems relating to a vehicle’s lateral stability. The wider and lower an object, the harder it is to topple by applying a force to the side. If you push a low, wide object, it tends to slide, whereas a tall and narrow object will tend to tip over. The ratio of the width of an object to its height, or more accurately to the height of its center of gravity, governs the object’s resistance to tipping over when subjected to a side force.

This concept is of critical importance in vehicle rollover cases. A vehicle’s lateral stability depends in large part upon its track width and the height of its center of gravity. Generally, the track width is measured from the vehicle center line to the center line of the tires. Because the front and rear track widths may vary, it is sufficient to use an average of the two. The center of gravity is an imaginary pinpoint within the vehicle mass upon which the vehicle could be perfectly balanced in all planes.

While important, the ratio of a vehicle’s width to its center of gravity height is not the exclusive factor affecting a vehicles lateral stability. Several other design factors also play a part in vehicle stability. Vehicles are generally not rigid in their construction. The body of an automobile can generally be moved sideways and up and down even though the tires don’t move. Cars are flexible, allowing a range of motion. Manufacturers design their cars so that the body will shift and absorb energy during normal driving maneuvers. Vehicle components like tires, springs, shock absorbers and the like permit constant shifting of important dimensions, including both the track width and center of gravity height.

The suspension system can significantly affect the vehicle’s stability. Generally, a vehicle body sits on top of its suspension. Because the suspension and tires are flexible components in a dynamic maneuver, the body shifts relative to the suspension, thus affecting the vehicle’s stability. For example, a car hitting a dip in the road can bottom out. When the car bottoms out, center of gravity height can be lowered dramatically. Conversely, when the car comes out of the dip, the suspension should rebound causing the center of gravity to increase in height.

In addition to the considerations discussed above, tire changes during driving can affect a vehicle’s lateral stability. When cornering, a vehicle’s tires deflect laterally, literally tucking under the wheel. Tire deflection can sometimes decrease the track surface width which can lower a vehicle’s stability. Usually the amount of deflection depends on sidewall height, sidewall stiffness, vertical load, cornering force, and air pressure.

The above factors all affect vehicle stability and should be taken into consideration during the investigation and reconstruction of any rollover accident.

SUVs and Rollover Accidents

SUVs can be particularly susceptible to rollover accidents. Such vehicles’ tall, narrow design — adopted for off-road clearance of rocks, brush, mud, snow and standing water — make SUV’s less stable. While SUV’s as a class offer their occupants reasonable crash protection, some SUV’s suffer from a significant drawback. Specifically, studies have shown that such vehicles can roll over at a rate two or more times that of the average passenger car. In past years, rollover fatality rates for SUVs have been two and three times that of passenger cars. Similarly, data showing the rate of incapacitating injuries resulting from rollover accidents in prior years reveals that the rate was 27.6% higher for SUVs than for the average passenger vehicle.