An average car accident can quickly spiral out of control if the impact on the car causes the car roof to crush. Most of the injuries sustained are very serious and cause great bodily harm to the victims involved. Roof crush accidents are highly prevalent in the United States and Orange County as well. Statistics indicate that a significant percentage of car accident fatalities are caused by roof crushing. An important point to note is that there are requirements in place that vehicle manufacturers should meet when assembling vehicles, to ensure they are durable enough to withstand a roof crush.
Our Orange County Personal Injury Attorney team has the expertise in dealing with personal injury claims and guiding our clients to ensure they receive rightful compensation for the harm done. We also provide aggrieved persons with legal guidelines regarding how to handle settlement agreements after the determination of compensation eligibility.
Overview of a Roof Crush
Numerous guidelines help prevent the occurrence of a roof crush accident. To begin with, drivers should observe all traffic rules and signs so that they will not face a compromising situation. For example, if a driver follows the stipulated speed limit, he or she is less likely to get involved in an accident, because there is enough reaction time.
Therefore, an accident, in general, is prevented by observing the regulatory rules. Specific to roof crush accidents, certain standards are expected of manufactured vehicles. Typically, a car is designed with a roof crush resistance. The resistance is the maximum load of weight that the car roof can handle. If your vehicle has a higher roof crush resistance than another, you are safer from experiencing such an accident.
Conversely, if your vehicle’s roof crush resistance is low, you face the risk of a roof crush accident. In the United States, a car roof has to withstand the weight that is at least 1.5 times its weight, for the roof crush resistance to be standard. In recent legislation, the roof crush resistance was improved to increase safety levels in vehicles. In the 2017 amendment of regulations, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration improved the roof crush resistance weight to 3 times its weight. Therefore, a car roof should withstand this weight for increased safety from these accidents.
Causes of Roof Crush Accidents
As a motorist, it is essential to know the common causes of roof crush accidents. The knowledge of the reasons will help you prevent yourself, your loved ones, as well as other road users from devastating incidents. The most recurrent causes of roof crush accidents are linked to problems with structural design, fit, and assembly of the car. They also occur because of the way cars roll over and land. If they happen to land upside down after an accident, the roof is likely to collapse on the victims. Roof crush accidents commonly occur because of:
- Multiple Vehicle Crashes
Cars often crash in intersections because of the many highways and lanes that meet and cross at an intersection point. Therefore, if a driver is not careful to observe traffic regulations when traversing an intersection, he or she may cause multiple vehicles to collide. Violent road accidents caused by driving at high speeds may cars roll high and land on the roofs, thereby creating a roof crush accident. Additionally, some may violently topple over and land on the roof of another car. If a falling vehicle lands on the roof of your vehicle, there may inevitably be a roof crush accident. The scenario is worse if the colliding vehicle is significantly larger and more massive in weight. For example, if a truck topples over and lands on your car roof, the pressure will be too much for your car’s roof crush resistance. Consequently, you may sustain serious injuries from the roof crush accident.
- Rollover Accidents
When a car falls off from a sloped road, it may roll over several times before landing. By the time the vehicle stops turning, the roof is often severely damaged and collapsed. Rollover accidents are commonly caused by overspeeding on the road. Applying brakes after driving fast for a while can lead to a shift in the center of gravity. Subsequently, the car will topple and rollover. Sharp bumps are an excellent example of causes of roof crush accidents linked to overspeeding. If the speed bump is not easily visible to the driver, he or she may attempt to stop the car quickly enough to dodge it. When the attempt fails, a rollover accident culminating into a roof crush accident ensues. Sharp corners also cause many rollover accidents, especially if a driver did not foresee them. The sudden turning of the wheels makes cars unstable, leading to a rollover.
The force exerted on the overall body of the car is enough to cause irreversible damage to the entire vehicle. By extension, damage includes the roof. Also, the passengers in the car, while it is rolling, face severe risks of fatalities. They can easily succumb to the injuries caused by debris and force exerted to them from the rolling over. In other instances, the car roof wholly detaches from the car because of the damage caused. Therefore, the absence of the entire roof causes the ejection of passengers from the vehicle. It is a dangerous effect of a roof crush accident because the victims are exposed to more harm, which may cause permanent bodily injuries.
- Defective Tires
Tires should fit the rims securely, to avoid them detaching and rolling away when the car is in motion. When a tire casing easily separates and leaves the vehicle unstable, it can quickly lose balance and topple over. Moreover, the driver may lose control and crash into another car. If the impact happens such that one vehicle’s weight is on top of the other, a roof crush accident will undeniably happen.
Defective tires also relate to those that easily deflate and cause flat tires. Sometimes, a flat wheel leads a vehicle to roll over, especially if a car is moving at high speed. If the rollover is severe, the car roof can easily collapse on the passengers inside the vehicle.
- High Center of Gravity
Once the center of gravity of a vehicle is significantly higher, all the weight shifts to the upper body. The high center of gravity makes the car more unstable, and any sudden turns or brakes may cause it to fall and rollover. Instances of topples caused by a high center of gravity are most common in buses and large trucks. If the weight of goods or passengers ferried by the massive vehicles shifts to the top, it is likely to fall on its side and cause a roof crush accident. If the roof is not strong enough, it will fall off and detach entirely from the rest of the body of the vehicle. The damage caused by such an accident is quite significant, considering that the shift in weight is mainly because of the load carried.
- Cheap Manufacture
Despite the stipulated requirements of a standard roof crush resistance, some manufacturers procure cheap material and labor during the manufacturing process. Quality control authorities often fall for the tricks used by corrupt manufacturers after they obtain counterfeit or substandard material because it looks very similar to the original. Manufacturing companies that produce sub-standard car roofs do not often think about the ensuing results of their actions, because car users are exposed to roof crush accidents from the lower quality car roofs. In most cases, even if a vehicle of less weight crashes and lands on the roof, a car that is substandard in the manufacture, the car roof will quickly collapse and pose a threat to the passengers inside.
- Improper Installation
Sometimes a car roof could be of the required quality. However, if the assemblers do not install the roof properly, it may fall off from the body and expose accident victims to further injury. For example, if the spaces left to fit the length of the car roof do not match what the installer mounts, the roof is not in the proper position. Thus, it may fall off if subjected to any slight force. The improper installation also affects cars that were in good shape before, but undergo significant repairs in a mechanic store. If the mechanic in charge of re-installation is not familiar with the make of the car or required method of installation, he or she puts you at risk of future roof crush accidents.
- Road Debris
Some roof crush accidents result from materials and objects on the road, collectively called debris. If a rock is lying in the middle of the way, an unsuspecting driver may hit it and cause the car to topple over. Such an accident can quickly escalate to a rollover incident and collapse the car roof. Debris can also cause roof crush accidents in a multiple car crash. If one car collides into another, heavy debris may fly from the intense force and land on the roof of another vehicle. Depending on the impact on the roof, it may crash or get disfigured enough to create holes. Once the debris enters the interior of the car through the spaces from the car ceiling, a driver or other passengers will suffer severe head injuries, because of the falling debris.
- Defective Design
Motorists who use convertible cars or vehicles with sunroofs may be more susceptible to roof crush accidents. The higher chance of risk arises from the design of the vehicles because they create a weaker front for the roof to crush than standard steel roofs would. If a convertible vehicle’s hydraulics fail to correctly place the car roof back in place because of a defect, it can easily collapse in case of an accident. Moreover, some of the sunroofs are made of strong pyrex that is supposed to be durable. Despite the durability test, glass-like material is more accessible to damage than conventional steel used in designing roofs of vehicles. Therefore, if the design of these unique car features is defective, the motorists operating them is at a higher hazard of experiencing a roof crush in case of an accident.
Injuries Sustained From Roof Crush Accidents
Doubtless, roof crush accidents cause some of the most grievous injuries on the victims. They may face long term effects after hazardous incidents and have to live with them. For passengers who had not strapped the safety belt on, the aftermath is even worse, especially if they are ejected out of the car. They are likely to fall and hurt vital organs or bones in their bodies. Personal injuries from roof crush accidents include:
- Brain Injury
If the roof of a vehicle falls on the victim’s head, he or she will inevitably suffer a severe brain injury. Firstly, the skull could crack and expose the delicate brain matter to deadly force. The effects of a brain injury are horrible, mainly because the brain handles most of the body functions. In the best-case scenario, a brain injury will only cause constant headaches or concussions. Dizziness is also a common symptom of brain injury, especially if it is recurrent. The patient may face consistent and persistent symptoms that are suppressed by painkillers and anti-inflammatory drugs.
However, in a severe instance of traumatic brain injury, most of the brain matter is usually profoundly affected. Consequently, the patient may end up in a coma, where he or she remains in a vegetative state for varying timelines. The victim may also slip in and out of the coma, which is highly discouraging to the loved ones and doctors handling him/her. Sometimes, full recovery is impossible, and an accident victim may remain in a dependent phase of life for long. Most doctors advise the immediate family to give consent for the doctor to pull the plug because the victim cannot make a full recovery.
A traumatic brain injury may, therefore, lead to wrongful death.
- Wrongful Death
A lot of fatalities also happen because of a roof crush accident. When the car roof collapses on a human body, the force is too much to bear. Besides, the sharp debris and worn out parts of the roof can cause deep cuts on the victim’s body. Eventually, he or she may lose too much blood and die as a result of the wounds. Death mainly occurs in this way because the blood supply to the brain is essential for the normal body functions to continue. Moreover, enough blood should reach the heart so that the correct pressure is maintained, and the heart keeps beating consistently. Therefore, when a victim loses too much blood, death may be inevitable.
In other scenarios, death happens when the accident victim is already a patient in the hospital and is seeking treatment. The doctors may miss vital signs of organ failure, and eventually, they advance and cause death. For example, if an accident victim sustained a blood clot that reached the heart veins, he or she can face sudden death, due to such a small condition. Thus, doctors should be thorough with their check-ups on the victims of car accidents to eradicate any preventable deaths.
If a victim is lucky enough, he or she will escape with bruises. These injuries are on the less severe spectrum of fatal injuries because they can vary from minor cases to mildly severe ones. Patients sustain bruises mainly from the sharp metallic edges that can cut them after the vehicle parts disintegrate. Furthermore, glass debris from shattered windows can also cause severe injuries because of the deep cuts they make on the body. If they cut sensitive areas like the neck, you could succumb to significant blood loss and fall unconscious.
Generally, bruises are not hard to treat. They only require constant cleaning and dressing. After that, you should ensure that no germs have access to the exposed area, or else the body is quick to disease-causing microorganisms. If exposure of microbes happens, the risk of complications significantly increases. The infections could be very severe and require invasive procedures like surgery to contain the situation.
- Bone Fractures
Fractured bones are common injuries sustained by victims of any car accident. When a roof falls into the vehicle, your first reflex action may be to cover your head with your arms, to shield your head from injury. While this action is helpful, your arms are exposed to massive weight from the metallic roof. Consequently, you may sustain severe fractures on your arms. The fractures mainly affect the humerus, radius, and ulna bones, which support your entire arm from the shoulder to the wrist.
Your legs may also sustain fractures, especially if the force of a rolling car causes ejection. When a defective roof rips open, you are susceptible to very violent removal from the car. You are likely to land on your legs for support. However, the intense force of landing can crack or break your bones entirely. Leg fractures affect victims more broadly because their mode of movement is highly limited. When a victim sustains these injuries, he or she has to receive recovery treatment and use plaster or hand and leg braces to hold the fracture in place. The plaster is rigid and may cause discomfort for any patient who has to use it.
- Spinal Injury
Landing on your back after ejection from the vehicle often exerts excessive force on your spinal cord. Your backbone provides support and enables your body to maintain an upright posture. Therefore, if it is severely injured during a roof crush accident, your body posture may significantly change for the worse.
Also, your spine plays a vital role in harboring essential nerve endings that make important transmissions all over the body. Some of them are sensory nerves that transmit signals of touch or change in temperature. A severe spinal injury may destroy and interfere with the proper functioning of such nerves. Consequently, you may suffer partial or full paralysis. A paralysis disorder causes dramatic changes in the lives of the victims because most of them lose their motor skills. The loss of locomotive control means that they cannot move some or all their body parts. Thus, they become dependent on other caregivers, as most of them are wheelchair-bound. However, with special treatment like physiotherapy, a patient can make slow progress and get back to their normal body function eventually.
Compensation Claims for Roof Crush Accident Victims
As an aggrieved victim of a roof crush accident, you deserve to receive compensation for all the harm and losses incurred. The judge has to make a correct determination of who is to bear the blame. In the state of California, the comparative negligence rule applies in civil suits, including in compensation claims. Therefore, you will only receive full payment if your personal injury attorney legally proves your innocence in the matter. If the judge finds you to have contributory negligence, you and the defendant have to bear costs proportion to the degree of fault.
The claims you can raise are to compensate:
- Loss of Future Income
Some injuries may force you to quit your job because they are fully invasive in the way you go about with your routine. For example, if you have to use a wheelchair for the rest of your life, yet you work in a construction site, it may be impossible to continue working. Therefore, the liable defendant has to pay compensation for all future income loss. Experts actuarial scientists may help determine your exact claim so that you can present a definite figure. Before granting the payment, the judge also considers other factors like when you were looking to retire, and whether your job was on an expiring contractual basis.
Regardless of the factors considered, you will still receive monetary payment for the harm done in denying you a chance to keep working.
- Medical Bills
Roof crush accident victims often have a hard time, especially in the recovery process. They constantly have to visit the hospital for continuous check-ups, as well as undertaking newly prescribed forms of treatment. For example, if you are recovering from traumatic brain injury, you may require multiple MRI scans to track the progress of recovery. Moreover, the cost of medicine is quite costly, especially if you need constant doses. In other cases, you may remain in the hospital as an inpatient for observation.
Since all the expenses incurred are not necessarily your fault, you deserve to receive compensation for the money used in seeking treatment. The defendant carries the burden of paying you all the money used in these procedures.
- Pain and Suffering
As a roof crush accident victim, you will experience a lot of pain and suffering, mainly because of the personal injuries and emotional distress you face. Your state of well being is significantly disrupted after you face the accident. Therefore, you have the right to sue for the suffering caused, especially if it hindered you from continuing with routine life like going to school or work.
- Wrongful Death
If a loved one does not survive a roof crush car accident, you can legally seek compensation for the loss of companionship and future wages. The judge can also grant payment to cover the funeral expenses because all these events are often unforeseen. You are not expected to carry the burden of facilitating all critical events and ceremonies. Therefore, seeking compensation from the defendant ensures that the weight of loss is lighter on you, as you focus on physical and emotional recovery.
Find a Orange County Personal Injury Attorney Near Me
Seeking compensation after involvement in a roof crush accident is not easy without a lawyer’s help. We at Orange County Personal Injury Attorney aim to help your compensatory process run smoothly by offering professional legal advice and representation in court. We will be happy to hear from you and offer our services to help you recover for all losses. Contact us today at 714-876-1959.