Rollover Risks in Virginia: SUVs and Product Liability Exposures

Sports utility vehicles (SUVs) have surged in popularity over the past two decades, accounting for nearly half of new vehicle sales in the US. With their elevated ride height and center of gravity, SUVs can offer a greater sense of safety and command of the road. However, these design elements also make SUVs more susceptible to deadly rollover crashes, especially in Virginia, where rollover fatalities are significantly above the national average.

Understanding the risks around SUV rollovers and pursuing product liability claims can help hold automakers accountable and compensate victims injured or killed in these preventable tragedies. This article will examine the scope of Virginia’s SUV rollover problem, major risk factors, and legal options for consumers.

The Dangers of SUV Rollovers in Virginia

While rollovers only account for around 3% of all crashes, they are responsible for over a third of all occupant fatalities. This disparity is even more pronounced with SUVs, which are involved in over 60% of fatal rollovers.

Rollovers are especially deadly because of the lack of crash protection. SUVs are not required to have side curtain airbags, allowing occupants to be fully or partially ejected at high speeds. The vehicle roof also easily crushes during rollovers, creating survival space issues.

Key Risk Factors for SUV Rollovers

There are three major factors that make SUVs inherently more prone to rollover crashes:

  • High Center of Gravity – The ride height and boxy shape of SUVs place their center of gravity higher up than lower passenger vehicles. This raises the risk of rollover with evasive maneuvers or high-speed turns.
  • Narrow Track Width – To enable a smooth ride and avoid scraping on bumps or in turns, most SUVs have a relatively narrow track width between the left and right tires. This compromises stability and increases the change of rollover with sharp steering inputs.
  • Soft Suspension – SUVs are designed with a softer suspension system to absorb bumps and impacts off-road. However, this cushioned suspension allows more body roll in turns and lane changes, elevating rollover risk.

These inherent SUV design factors interact with common driving scenarios and road hazards to dramatically escalate the likelihood of a rollover event:

  • Evasive Maneuvers – Sudden turns or lane changes to avoid collisions easily overpower an SUV’s high center of gravity and soft suspension, causing a loss of control.
  • High-Speed Turns – The physics of a high-speed turn forces an SUV’s weight outboard, overwhelming a narrow track width and producing rollover forces.
  • Tripping Hazards – Striking curbs, guardrails, or soft soil can trip the bottom of an SUV’s tire and initiate a rollover. SUV bumpers often override barriers, leading to these events.
  • Rapid Deceleration – Hard straight-line braking shifts an SUV’s weight forward, lifting the rear wheels and enabling a rollover.

Product Liability Claims Around SUV Rollover Risks

The auto industry has long understood the inherent instability and rollover risks associated with SUV design. Internal documents show some manufacturers prioritized style and marketing over engineering safer vehicles. Consumers put their trust in automakers to design reasonably safe vehicles, not rolling death traps.

If you or a loved one has been injured or killed in an SUV rollover, you may have a product liability claim against the automaker. Victims can potentially recover compensation for:

  • Medical expenses from rollover injuries
  • Lost income and impact on earnings capacity
  • Pain and suffering
  • Loss of companionship for fatalities
  • Punitive damages in egregious cases

An experienced rollover attorney can help analyze the crash details and vehicle design, pinpointing defects that elevated the risk of a rollover. They can also retain experts to demonstrate how an alternative, safer design could have prevented the rollover event.

Statute of Limitations on Rollover Claims

It’s important to promptly consult with a qualified rollover attorney after a crash, as Virginia has a strict two year statute of limitations on product liability claims. This deadline can prevent filing a claim if you wait too long. An attorney can immediately get to work investigating the case while important evidence is still available.

Rollover crashes can instantly devastate individuals and families through no fault of their own. Victims should not have to bear the costs created by automakers who cut corners on consumer safety. If you or someone you love has been harmed in an SUV rollover accident, contact our experienced legal team at Monge & Associates for a free consultation on (888) 477-0597.

With offices in 32 locations across 19 states, including Virginia, Arizona, and Alabama, we can help you receive the compensation you deserve.