In late July of this year, a rollover accident at the intersection of Columbus Avenue and Center Street in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, left one motorist with serious injuries. The accident occurred around 10:00 am when a Lincoln MKZ proceeding east down Columbus Avenue collided with a Hyundai Elantra that was traveling north on Center Street. The Lincoln struck a secondary curb after the collision and rolled over on its side, pinning the driver and his passenger inside. First responders had to use mechanical means to extricate the driver who was transported to Berkshire Medical Center with serious but stable injuries. His passenger and the driver of the Hyundai suffered only minor injuries.
Police were still investigating and had not determined the cause of the accident.
The gentleman and his passenger in the Pittsfield accident were fortunate that their injuries were not fatal. Statistics show that rollover accidents are responsible for 30% of traffic fatalities nationwide. While speed is a factor in precipitating rollovers, it is not always a necessary factor or trigger. Common causes for rollovers are:
- Tripping—if your car strikes something like the curb, there is the possibility it will rollover. The collision interrupts the motion of your car and pitches it into a sideways roll or forward.
- Tire blowouts—a sudden tire blowout caused by a defective tire can sometimes cause the car to slow abruptly and into a roll
- Hazard in the road—a large object, deep pothole, construction zone equipment, or lack of signage warning of a hazard can lead to rollover accidents
- T-bone collision—as what may have happened in the above Pittsfield accident, when a car is hit on its side at a relatively high speed, it can rollover. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, about 20% of rollover accidents occur this way
- SUV vehicles—these motor vehicles have a high center of gravity that makes them prone to rollover accidents. Car manufacturers have been slow to remedy this condition or to provide safety measures such as reinforced roofs that would otherwise be crushed if the car completely rolls over, endangering the occupants
Factors common in many motor vehicle accidents can trigger a rollover as well. These include:
- Speeding—about 40% of rollover accidents resulting in fatal injuries occur from excessive speed
- Distracted driving
- Fatigue leading to loss of control
- Impaired driving
- Product defect—this includes steering or braking issues or a defective tire that suddenly blows out while you are traveling 60-70 miles per hour
The report on the Pittsfield rollover accident did not place blame on the driver, however, the passenger may have claims against both drivers. If the intersection was uncontrolled and no stop signs or traffic devices were present, then liability may depend on whether accident reconstruction experts can show that one vehicle was speeding or unsafely entered the intersection. Since speed is a common factor and the Lincoln vehicle that rolled over was not a SUV, it is likely that speed by one or both vehicles was a major contributing factor.
An experienced Pittsfield car accident lawyer from Burns and Jain is essential to determine which party was responsible. Witness statements from the drivers and passengers and possibly from persons who may have witnessed the collision need to be gathered and analyzed for accuracy and credibility. In some cases, surveillance camera footage from adjacent businesses is available. The Lincoln also needs to be examined to determine if a defective mechanical issue may have led to the rollover.
If a serious injury or death occurred, then another possibility is defective design of the automobile. These product liability claims are typically complex, contentious, and take years to resolve.
Damages in Rollover Accidents
Damages in rollover accidents can be extensive. They may include:
- Medical expenses
- Past and future loss of income
- Pain and suffering
- Lost income capacity
- Permanent impairment or disfigurement
- Diminished quality or enjoyment of life
- Spousal claim for loss of consortium
Retain a Pittsfield Car Accident Lawyer from Burns and Jain
Many car accident injury claims consist of issues of liability and damages that require the skills of a seasoned Pittsfield car accident lawyer from the law office of Burns and Jain. Call us at (617) 227-7423 for a free consultation about your car accident injury claim.