Just like airbags and seatbelts are safety features in a vehicle, the roof is also a critical safety element. In the event of a rollover accident, it acts as the barrier between the occupants and external surfaces. For this reason, it is the legal obligation of car manufacturers to install crashworthy roofs in their vehicles. When an accident occurs, and the roof fails to provide the protection it should, you should sue the manufacturer for compensation.
At the Los Angeles Car Accident Attorney, we understand roof crush car accident lawsuits. We can help you seek compensation for the catastrophic injuries or wrongful death caused by a defective or failing car roof.
Overview of Roof Crush Car Accident
In the U.S. alone, around 250,000 roof crush accidents are recorded yearly. These types of car accidents occur when the roof of a vehicle collapses, making it cave inwards or rip off other car components. These statistics should be a cause for alarm because the NHTSA has already put measures in place to ensure manufacturers of vehicles design and install crashworthy roofs that provide adequate protection to car occupants.
For many years now, the federal government has established many standards and regulations that passenger vehicle manufacturers should follow, to strengthen the design of these vehicles and ensure car occupants are safe even in the event of a rollover or related crash. And before a car goes out to the market, the manufacturer must conduct multiple tests to ensure it meets the set standards.
Unfortunately, most of these tests occur in the lab or enclosed areas through simulation, and this might not be enough to test the strength of a car roof. In the real-life, when a car with design defects is involved in a roof crush accident, the flaws are visible.
With the knowledge or force and impact that are usually involved in car rollover or related collision, you expect the roof to cave in or crush somehow. A well-designed roof will offer protection to the occupant of the vehicle, but when the roof is of inferior design, it will cave in, causing a fatal roof crush vehicle accident.
The reason these accidents are catastrophic is that the roof of the car and the head of car occupants are only inches apart. Therefore, when the roof crushes or caves in, it hits the head or spine of the occupant resulting in TBIs, spinal cord injuries, or even fatalities. In some cases, the displaced roof might make the seatbelts lose, increasing the probability of the car occupants being ejected out of the car.
Roof crush accidents are common in rollover crashes, and what happens is that the combined weight of the vehicle and impact cannot be withstood by the roof. When the roof can no longer withstand the load, it caves in killing or injuring passengers. It is for this reason that the NHTSA requires the car roofs to be crush resistant. The roof of a car should withstand the weight that is at least one and half times heavier than the car. These standards have been further modified such that the roof of a car must withstand a minimum weight of at least three times its weight.
Raising the standards requiring vehicle manufacturers to make crush-resistant roofs has helped reduce the number of roof crush incidences. This means that if car manufacturers adhere to these standards, vehicle occupants will be much safer in the event of a rollover or related collision.
Reasons why Roof Crush Vehicle Accidents Happen
Los Angeles is the leading county in terms of traffic accidents in the country. But despite this, the main cause of roof crush accidents is problems with car design or structure. Manufacturers are required to meet the high standards of the crush-resistant roof. Unfortunately, because of the need to make profits, they cut corners and fail to ensure that the design of the roof of a vehicle is crush resistant. Discussed below are the typical roof crush accident causes:
Inadequate Fitting of Car Roofs
As mentioned earlier, car manufacturers have a legal responsibility to ensure the roof of a car is crush resistant. This includes ensuring the roof is adequately fitted, leaving no single part unattended. Vehicle assemblers at times make faulty fixations when they fail to ensure all the screws holding the roof in place are adequately driven and secured. Other times, they fail to ensure the rubber linings that keep the roof in place are secure and airtight to prevent rainwater from dripping inside the car.
Although such an error appears to be minor, it could cause the roof of the car to crush. The crush might be caused by the rusting caused by dripping water getting into contact with the metallic parts in the interior of the vehicle. In other incidents, poor installation could make the roof crush on impact.
In many lines of duties, people find themselves prioritizing private gains over meeting the set standards. It is not different for car manufacturers. Although they want to ensure their products meet the high standards set by the federal government, they are in the business of making profits, and the best way to do that and remain competitive is by cutting manufacturing costs. They find themselves buying raw materials selling at the lowest prices in the market or materials with a slightly high price. In pursuit of profits, these car producers end up purchasing vehicle parts that do not meet the set guidelines or criteria.
And because of the low-cost production, car buyers are tricked into buying vehicles with weak roofs that crush in the event of a car accident.
When designing a car brand, the parts or materials used in the manufacture should match those specified by the designer. When a manufacturer takes shortcuts by using components of inferior quality other than those specified in the car design, the roof might crush because of the defective design.
Although these cases are not prevalent among manufacturers, auto repair shops are highly involved in these issues. What happens is that when you take your vehicle for a roof replacement or repair, the mechanics working on your car might opt for a spare roof that doesn’t match the brand or design of your vehicle. The challenge of a roof that doesn’t match your car brand is that it might collapse anytime, resulting in a fatal accident.
Loss of pressure transmission or leaking brake fluid might be the cause of brake failure. Once transmission of pressure to the brake pedal stops, the car might end up toppling or rolling over, thus causing a roof crush accident.
Elevated Center of Gravity
When the center of gravity of a car is high, the probability of toppling is exceptionally high. These cases are common during overloading, where too much weight shifts the center of gravity, making the car lose balance, which results in a rollover or topple.
Events that Result in Roof Crush Accidents
If you have come across a roof crush car accident, then you must be wondering what events result in these accidents. In most cases, the roof crushes after a rollover accident. Vehicles that are likely to be involved in these collisions are SUVs. Based on the NHTSA, 75 percent of SUVs are likely to be involved in rollover collisions than typical cars. A passenger van also has a possibility of flipping during a rollover causing a roof crush accident.
The reason why SUVs are more prone to rollover crashes is because of the high-speed gauges that allow drivers to operate them at high speed. Speeding doesn’t only pose a risk to SUV drivers but even to other standard vehicle operators. What speeding does is it reduces reaction time and increases the impact or force of an accident, which exposes vehicle occupants to catastrophic injuries or even death. If the speeding occurs on a steep slope, instant breaking in the event of an emergency will make the car topple and rollover. The likely outcome in such an event is a roof crush car accident.
Also, sharp speed bumps could cause a roof crush collision. When a driver is operating a car at high speed, he or she may notice a speed bump when it’s too late, reducing reaction time. If the vehicle approaches the bump at that speed, the chances are high that a roof crush accident will happen.
Similarly, in a multiple vehicle car accident, particularly those involving a standard vehicle and the big rigs, the small vehicle is likely to cause a roof crush accident. The standard car driver tries to swerve the approaching vehicle or truck. As a result, the car loses control and topples over, causing a rollover crash that makes the roof of the car to crush. Note that the accident will be worse if a big rig is involved.
Turning and braking are usually risky when you have defective tires. In recent days, incidences of tires detaching from the rims have been high. If this happens during braking or making a turn and you are speeding, a roof crush accident is inevitable.
Tires of inferior quality can also cause a roof crush accident. It happens when the tires of a speeding vehicle get punctured, and the air held in the tire escapes making the center of gravity of the car shift on one side. The driver loses control over the car, which results in a fatal roof crush accident.
Note that even the action of another motorist might make a car to topple and rollover causing an accident. Falling objects like tree limbs could also result in roof crush.
Also, you must understand that wearing a seatbelt can only help you during a rollover accident. But if the rollover results in a roof crush, even the belt cannot save you because your head or spine is likely to collide with the roof causing severe injuries or even death.
Forms of Injuries Associated with Roof Crush Accidents
Car accidents, even fender benders, can cause devastating effects on the vehicles both in the car and bystanders. But roof crush collisions are the most catastrophic because a lot of damage can be done when the roof caves on or collapses on the occupants. These accidents cause more damage and fatalities because even the safety features in the vehicle cannot be utilized when the crashes happen. The loss will be worse if the roof of the car is already feeble.
Two scenarios might happen in a roof crush auto accident. One is that the roof might cave in, causing severe head or spine injuries. The second scenario is that the roof might be ripped off, causing vehicle occupants to be ejected off the vehicle during a rollover. In any of these instances, you could sustain severe injuries. Discussed below are common injuries obtained in roof crush collisions:
A TBI, also known in full as traumatic brain injury, occurs in roof crush accidents when the roof caves in hitting the head of an occupant causing the skull to fracture or break. The skull is the one that protects the brain, which means the force that causes it to crack might extend to the brain, causing severe damage. Objects might penetrate in the brain, or the impact could interfere with their normal functioning.
TBIs can have deplorable effects on the victim, some of which might be minor conclusions with temporary damages, while others might cause permanent damage.
After an accident, you can tell if you have suffered a TBI if you experience headaches, confusion, unconsciousness, or comma. If the trauma is mild, it will only affect your brain cells temporarily, and you are likely to recover. When the impact of the accident breaks your brain tissue, bruises, or causes any other visible damage to the brain, you will be left in a vegetative condition for the rest of your life.
Spinal Cord Injury
Spinal cord injuries occur when part of the spine or the nerves located at its end may get damaged. Impaired breathing, severe pain, paralysis, or muscle weakness are some of the symptoms of spinal cord injuries.
Depending on the severity of the injury, a car accident could result in loss of body function. The effects are loss of mobility or senses. Note that loss of function is not only caused when the spinal cord is severely injured. Your spine might be intact, but because it harbors nerve fibers and endings, damage to these nerves could result in loss of body function.
Also, understand that an injury to the spine can cause two forms of cord injuries. One of them is the complete spine injury that causes the victim to lose body functionality below the level of the injury. The other is incomplete, which leaves you with the little function below the injury level.
Bone fractures are common injuries associated with roof crush accidents. When the roof is collapsing, your body is forced to take so much force that it makes bones break or fracture. The common fractures you are likely to suffer after this form of accident include buckle, avulsions, compound, and transverse.
For many people, sustaining these fractures might seem like luck because their effects are not always life-changing. Regardless of people considering themselves lucky to sustain fractures after this kind of crash, some fractures might fail to join or reformulate fully. You might require reconstructive surgery because of some fractures, especially those on the limb that cause points of weakness. Your regular routines will be hampered dramatically by a plastered leg or arm, and you will find the recovery process hectic.
The injuries sustained in these crashes might cause fatalities. Usually, the victims of the accident bleed out to death. Bleeding puts the lives of the victims at risk, particularly if blood flow in the brain is cut short. Remember that blood is the one that supplies the brain with oxygen. Therefore, when it can no longer flow in the brain, the brain will be deprived of oxygen, causing severe side effects and, in some cases, death.
Actions to Take After a Roof Crush Accident
In the event you have been involved in a roof crush car accident, you have probably sustained severe injuries or passed away. The most critical thing to understand at such a time is that California has laws that enable victims of these crashes to seek compensation. And you need to follow these laws if you want to recover maximum compensation.
The first step towards getting maximum compensation is by hiring a profound personal injury law attorney. An attorney will take time to evaluate the case in-depth to find out what was the cause of your injuries or fatality.
Also, make sure that the car involved in the roof crush accident is not disposed of as junk or taken for repairs because it will act as a solid piece of evidence. Your defense attorney can use the car wreckage to prove how weak or poorly designed the car was. Experts can also demonstrate how your injuries were caused by the roof collapsing.
Liable Parties in Roof Crush Accidents
After a car accident where the roof collapses, you have many parties that you can sue for compensation. Although most of the time, there is no one to blame for the crash directly, sometimes it is easy to find the liable party, particularly where negligence is involved.
It is possible to sue the manufacturer of the vehicle for making defective car parts or products. Remember, as stated earlier, car manufacturers should make crush-resistant roofs, and when they fail to do so, they act with disregard to standards set by the NHTSA.
So, if you can link your injuries or roof crush to the car assembler, the manufacturer will be the liable party. Your Los Angeles Car Accident Attorney will find surveyors who will analyze the vehicle wreckage and see if the materials used to make the roof, or the car in general, meet the set standards. If they don’t meet the set criteria, you will have strong evidence to prove negligence by the car manufacturer.
In incidences where the car manufacturer is not to blame, but another motorist directly caused you to topple and rollover resulting in a roof crush accident, the driver should be held liable for your injuries. When raising these claims, you must provide valid reasons as to why you believe the driver was negligent. Another car driver will take responsibility for the accident if he or she was:
Drinking and driving
Not indicating when making a turn
It is up to your attorney to prove the actions of the defendant demonstrate negligence.
The authorities in charge of the road where the accident happened can also be blamed if wrongly placed speed bumps caused you to crash. If it is the debris on the road or other hazards that could have been prevented if people in charge of the route took the right measures, the roof rush accident should be blamed on the agencies tasked with maintaining the roads.
Compensable Damages in Roof Crush Accidents
Once you successfully prove the defendants are responsible for the crash, the court will decide on the remedies or compensation to help enjoy life under the new circumstances.
The first damage that should be sought in these claims is medical expenses. If you are the victim of the accident, a lot of money has been spent in treatment. Medical bills damages are awarded to help you recover money paid in the hospital.
When it is a loved one that has died from the accident, a wrongful death suit will help you receive money to cover funeral and burial expenses. You could also pursue medical bills after a wrongful death if the victims received treatment before succumbing to the injuries. Where the victim was the sole breadwinner in the family, all those that depended on him or her should receive a loss of future earnings compensation.
Find the Right Car Accident Attorney Near Me
No matter how careful you are on the road, an unfortunate event might occur, causing a roof crush car accident. Fortunately, the Los Angeles Car Accident Attorney, is here to provide legal guidance and representation to victims of these collisions. Contact us today at 424-237-3600 for a no-obligation and confidential consultation.