In a rollover accident, the motor vehicle will flip upside down. Per the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), rollover accidents involving roof crushes result in a significant number of fatalities and death.

This is not only due to the impact force, but also by poorly manufactured and designed vehicle roofs, which can quickly collapse when an accident occurs. When these roofs crush someone, the victim may result in grievous bodily injuries, including fractures, spinal injuries, and traumatic brain injuries as well as death.

If you have been involved in a roof crush car accident, you will require a personal injury attorney who has extensive experience in handling these cases. This is because most insurance companies are incentivized to downplay these accidents, regardless of the degree and magnitude of your injuries.

Our primary goal at the Jacksonville Personal Injury Attorney is to assist injury victims in Jacksonville to obtain fair compensation. Get in touch with us if you have been involved in a roof crush car accident. Don’t worry about paying upfront for our services. We work on a contingency-fee-basis.

What are Roof Crush Accidents?

Often, roof crushes are a result of rollover accidents. Therefore, for you to understand what a roof crush accident is, you must first know what a rollover accident is.

In a rollover accident, a motor vehicle will tip over while being driven either upside down or on its side. If the car tips over upside down, the roof may crush, and even some parts of it may fall on its occupants.

Rollover accidents are quite common in vehicles driving at high speed, and those which have massive weights and tall bodies. Generally, trucks, vans, and SUVs are more susceptible to rollovers when compared to other motor vehicle types.

Besides roof collapse, a rollover crash may cause the car’s fuel to start leaking. This may bring about fire, and the occupants will find themselves trapped inside a burning motor vehicle.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention highlights that rollover crashes are more deadly when compared to side, frontal, or rear crashes. They can even become deadlier when they involve a roof crush or fuel leakage.

Roof Crush Car Accident Statistics

Generally, roof crushes intensify the degree and magnitude of rollover accident injuries. The Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles illustrates that rollover accidents are not common in Florida, and they only account for 2.17% of the aggregate number of automobile crashes. But, 11.43% of the rollover crashes result in fatalities. These fatalities are mostly brought about by roof crushes.

Rollover accidents involving roof crushes mostly occur during the weekend. They may be a result of driver fatigue, intoxication, and negligence.

According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), low roof strength increases the injury risk in rollover crashes. If a roof is poorly designed or manufactured, it can easily collapse during a rollover collision.

What Happens in a Roof Crush Car Accident?

Roof crushes can occur when the motor vehicle tips over upside down. The motor vehicle may tip over due to external forces, including curbs and collisions, as well as internal forces, typically as a result of changes in speed, ground friction, and steering input.

In a roof crush car accident, the vehicle will start rolling over until it turns upside down. The roof may crush as the vehicle rolls, or immediately after it has flipped over. As a general rule, the greater the impact forces of the accident, the higher the probability of a roof crush. When the roof crushes, some parts of it may fall upon the vehicle's occupants, and subsequently, injure them.

Causes of Roof Crush Car Accidents

The following are the most common causes of roof crush car accidents in Florida:

  1. Vehicle Type

Because of their height and shape, SUVs are more vulnerable to roof crush accidents. SUVs can easily tip over upside down. If the magnitude of the impact force is high, the roof may collapse onto the vehicle’s occupants.

  1. Aggressive Driving

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, aggressive driving is a leading cause of automobile crashes in the United States. Motor vehicle drivers may be impatient and indulge in hazardous activities such as tailgating, sudden maneuvers, and erratic lane switching. These activities can make the car tip over upside down, increasing the probability of a roof crush.

  1. Speeding

Speeding is a leading cause of roof crush car accidents. When a motor vehicle driver is speeding, he/she may lose control when he/she comes across a roadside hazard. This may cause his/her vehicle to tip over, increasing the risk of a roof crush.

  1. Multi-vehicle Crashes

One car may hit another vehicle on its side. This will cause one of the cars to flip over upside down. Depending on the magnitude of the impact force, the vehicle's roof may collapse.

  1. Intoxication

Typically, a person who is driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol has poor judgment and slow reaction time. Such a person may not effectively respond to roadside hazards, exercise caution, and due diligence while driving, or obey traffic rules. This may result in a roof crush car accident.

  1. Roadway Hazards

Dangerous roads can also contribute to roof crush car accidents. For example, if there is no warning sign where there is a roadway hazard, the driver may not have sufficient time to prepare to escape it. This may make him/her to erratically change lanes, increasing the risk of a roof crush accident.

  1. Rural Roads

Most urban roads have clear divisions and barriers. On the contrary, rural roads don’t have these features. Therefore, rear-end collisions involving roof crushes have a higher probability of occurring on rural roads than on urban roads.

  1. Tire Failure

A motor vehicle may have defective or worn tires. These tires can result in the driver losing control and causing a crash. Some defective tires can also blow up, making the vehicle tip over upside down.

  1. Swerving

Sometimes, motor vehicle drivers may find it challenging to maneuver between highways. This can be due to various reasons, including poor roadside visibility and underestimation of turns. A car will most likely tip over upside down if it is swerved aggressively, resulting in a roof crush accident.

How to Survive a Roof Crush Car Accident

Although roof crush car accidents may not be prevalent in Florida, they can result in numerous fatalities when they occur. To prevent roof crush car accidents, you should be extremely cautious and exercise due diligence while driving. Unfortunately, you can still be a victim of a roof crush accident, regardless of how careful you were.

You can take various steps to ensure you survive in a roof crush accident, and minimize the degree and extent of your injuries. If you notice that the vehicle you are occupying has started to tip, and you think that it may roll over upside down, you should quickly remove your legs from the pedal. This way, you will protect your ankles from breakage. Then, remove your hands from the steering wheel, and instead, place them tightly on your chest and lean deeper into the seat. Do not lean forward when you realize that the vehicle has started rolling, as this may result in arm breakage or traumatic brain injuries.

When the vehicle has tipped over upside down, and the roof has already crashed, stabilize your feet on the floor. Carefully remove any glass shards or roof debris that is attached to your body, and discard them. If you have been uninjured, you can contact the police and help other vehicle occupants who may have sustained injuries.

Make sure you switch off the vehicle’s engine as soon as the car stops rolling before planning for your exit. If you had put on a seatbelt, you should untie it, and then scan for the clearest and safest exit point. 

If you are not cautious, you can incur more injuries while exiting the vehicle. You can use the car’s doors and windows to exit. Feel free to shatter the car’s windows, if they are closed, to create room for an exit.

Once you have freed yourself from the vehicle, you can help other occupants, who may still be trapped inside the damaged car, also to exit. After you have exited, do not stay at the accident scene. This is because there might be fuel leakage, causing an explosion. Look for a comfortable place to rest as you wait for help from law enforcement. Also, steer clear of traffic to avoid being hit by oncoming vehicles.

Common Injuries in a Roof Crush Car Accident

According to the National Automotive Sampling System Database, victims of roof crush car accidents normally sustain injuries within five major body parts: lower limbs, upper limbs, abdomen, thorax, and head and neck. The degree and magnitude of these injuries usually depend on the impact force of the crash. The higher the impact force, the more severe the bodily injury.

A victim of a roof crush car accident can sustain multiple injuries within these body parts. The most vulnerable body part to injuries is the head and neck, followed by the upper and lower limbs.

These injuries may arise when the accident victims slam into other cars or obstacles, get hit by loose cargo, have contact with broken glass or torn metal, become ejected from the vehicle, or become tossed upside down while inside the car. Most of these injuries can heal over time. Still, some may result in long-lasting side effects, including loss of memory, hearing, and speech, vision impairment, internal body organ damage, dental injuries, chronic pain, as well as leg and arm amputation. Here are some examples of common injuries in a roof crush car accident:

  • Traumatic brain injuries - In instances where the wheels stop functioning, but the car’s body keeps going, the passengers will experience a jolting force. This force can make them hit themselves on sidebars, steering wheels, or any other moving object inside the motor vehicle. This may result in traumatic brain injuries, which may have adverse long-term effects such as memory loss or coma.
  • Broken bones - A victim of a roof crush car accident may break his/her ribs, legs, and arms. These fractured bones can cut a blood vessel or even puncture the lungs.
  • Spinal Injuries - Most roof crush car accidents occur suddenly. Due to their sudden nature, the victim’s spinal cord may become severely traumatized, damaged, and compressed. Spinal injuries require prolonged and constant medical attention.
  • Internal bleeding - When an internal body organ is damaged, it may start bleeding. A victim may not immediately discover that he/she is suffering from internal bleeding. If this condition remains undiscovered for a long time, it may result in death.

Liable Parties in a Roof Crush Car Accident

As a victim, you must identify who was responsible for causing the accident before instituting a personal injury lawsuit or claiming for compensation. A roof crush car accident can be caused by one individual, a group, or an organization.

However, you should take note that Florida is a no-fault state. You will only be required to identify the liable parties if you have sustained a permanent injury, or the total value of your damages exceeds $10,000. Otherwise, you will be required to file for compensation with your own insurance company under the PIP coverage scheme.

It is also worth noting that in most personal injury cases for roof crush accidents, victims are customarily required to identify the at-fault parties and prove how they caused the crash. This is because the injuries sustained in roof crush accidents are often severe, catastrophic, and have long-term consequences. These injuries attract overly high medical bills, as well as drastically lower the victims' living standards. Here are some examples of parties that can be held liable for a roof crush car accident:

  1. Automobile Manufacturers

According to Florida’s strict liability laws, automobile manufacturers owe a duty of care to roadside users. This duty of care imposes them a legal obligation to exercise due diligence while manufacturing vehicles and ensure that the end-product is of the required standard. A manufacturer should build and design cars in such a manner that prevents certain foreseeable accidents, including roof crush accidents.

Some manufacturers may attempt to sell vehicles with poor roof design. Although these manufacturers often know that the cars’ roofs are of poor quality, they will still market them to make more profits and save money. If you can prove that the accident happened because of poor roof design, you can institute a personal injury lawsuit for compensation against the vehicle manufacturer.

  1. Government Agencies

You could sue both local and state governmental agencies if the accident was caused by a dangerous road or highway hazard. Note that civil suits against the government are incredibly complicated, and you will need the help of a highly qualified attorney to win.

For you to have a claim against the government, you must prove that it was aware of the dangerous road condition, and it failed to repair it within a reasonable time. You must also demonstrate how the hazardous road condition resulted in the accident. 

  1. Motorists

If the motor vehicle driver was indulging in reckless driving, you could institute a personal injury lawsuit against him/her for compensation. You will have to prove how the motor vehicle driver was negligent and how his/her negligence caused the accident and contributed to your injuries. In a multi-vehicle roof crush, you can hold another motorist responsible for the accident, provided that you can show the court how he/she was driving recklessly or violating a particular traffic rule.

Choosing the Right Roof Crush Attorney

Generally, personal injury claims involving roof crush accidents are costly and complicated. Therefore, you should select an attorney who has the relevant qualifications and long-term experience handling such cases. Moreover, you should choose an attorney who has enough monetary resources so that he/she can hire necessary experts to help you prove your case.

Make sure you hire a roof crush attorney who has the following expertise:

  • Federal standard - A competent roof crush attorney should understand the complex Federal legal regime governing vehicle design and manufacture.
  • Roof strength and testing - Your attorney should know the different procedures used during roof strength and testing. This will enable him/her to assess and poke holes in the defense case effectively.
  • Injuries investigation - A personal injury attorney should not only rely on the information you gave him/her but also conduct an independent investigation about the accident. These investigations should be carried out thoroughly and promptly. They will help your attorney to reconstruct the scene of the accident and identify what led to it.

If you have sued a car manufacturing company, the chances are high that it will hotly contest the case. This means that you will require a skilled and well-funded lawyer. Car manufacturers may argue that something else led to the crash, including speeding and high impact force. To defeat these arguments, you will require an experienced attorney who can hire experts to demonstrate how the roof was poorly designed and how its poor design contributed to the occurrence of the accident.

As the plaintiff, you need to provide sufficient proof linking the roof crush to your injuries. If you fail to do so, the judge will dismiss your case. Note that the standard of proof in Florida’s personal injury lawsuits is on a balance of probabilities. You should select an attorney who can help you reach or exceed this standard.

Which Experts May be Required in a Roof Crush Personal Injury Lawsuit?  

You may require several experts to help you prove the liability of the at-fault party, the magnitude and extent of your injuries, and how the accident affected your living standards and those of your loved ones. Here are some examples of experts that you may need:

  • Technical experts - They can explore the accident scene to determine its precise cause and dynamics.
  • Economic experts - They will explain to the court how to calculate the total value of your lost earnings. They can also help you compute your total medical expenses and rehabilitation costs, taking into account future costs and life expectancy.
  • Rehabilitation experts - They will help the court ascertain any adverse long-term effects of the accident, including cognitive and psychological impairments and physical limitations. They can also make recommendations on which services you require, such as counseling and training, and how much you may spend when rebuilding your life.
  • Lifecare planning assistants - They will provide a clear and comprehensive account of all the total medical expenses you may incur, including hospitalization, assisted living, and rehabilitation.
  • Medical experts - They may include neuro-psychiatrists, orthopedic surgeons, and neurologists. They will testify about the degree and extent of your injuries, how you were treated, and any future medical help you may need.

Compensation Available in a Roof Crush Accident Personal Injury Lawsuit

If you win the lawsuit, you will be entitled to up to three types of damages: general damages, special damages, and punitive damages. Special damages usually cover for the following:

  • Total past, present, and future medical expenses
  • The aggregate value of lost earnings
  • The total amount of future lost earnings or earning capacity

Special damages can be easily quantified in monetary terms. For you to prove special damages, you must have sufficient documentation of your medical treatment and work records. You can hire an economics expert to help you compute how much you may require as fair compensation.

General damages cover for pain and suffering, mental anguish, loss of consortium, as well as diminished quality of life. Unlike special damages, they cannot be quantified monetarily, and they are primarily issued with the jury’s discretion.

Finally, punitive damages are only issued in cases where the defendant acted extremely negligently and in blatant disregard of human life. Their main aim is to punish the defendant. Their aggregate value may be up to two times the total amount of both general and special damages.

Find a Jacksonville Roof Crush Attorney Near Me

We at Jacksonville Personal Injury Attorney have obtained exceptionally favorable results for numerous roof crush victims. Call us today at 904-800-7557 for a free consultation.