SUV Rollover Lawsuits
SUVs were originally designed as work vehicles and most are still built using a truck chassis. Never intended as passenger vehicles, SUVs feature a high profile and narrow track that makes them very rollover-prone. With their weak roofs and poor crash protections, SUVs roll over with enough frequency to account for sixty percent of the more than 10,000 rollover fatalities in the U.S. every year.
Taken together, the popularity of SUVs and their many design problems foster a legal cottage industry to handle claims of SUV-related injury and death, with firms and independent attorneys across the country specializing in litigation on behalf of accident victims and their families.
High Profile Litigation
Lawsuits concerning SUV safety and accidents have been brought due to rollovers and defective tires, seatbelts and other parts of the vehicles. Many of the suits have led to recalls. SUV rollovers. No major SUV maker escapes litigation over SUV rollover injuries. Chevrolet, GMC, Toyota, Mitsubishi, and General Motors are all named in suits claiming faulty design and/or negligence.
Defective tires. The first major spotlight on the dangers of SUVs came with the sensational Ford-Firestone tire scandal. Firestone tires experienced an abnormally high number of failures on SUVs, prompting Congress to launch a series of hearings focusing on deaths and injuries related to faulty Firestone tires mounted on Ford Explorers. Litigants claimed that Firestone tires “disintegrated” and that Bridgestone/Firestone knew the tires were defective. Ford was also at fault, the suits claimed, because their design defects caused the vehicles to roll over.
Seatbelts. Occupants of a vehicle who are wearing their seatbelts are less likely to sustain a serious injury than those who do not—especially when the vehicle rolls over. That's why manufacturers must make sure that seatbelts are designed, and installed, properly. While some manufacturers* will recall seatbelts that were designed or installed properly, others do not—leaving drivers and passengers at greater risks of injury.
*Toyota recalled 90,000 Highlander SUVs in 2008 that had defective seatbelt components after the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) warned that the seatbelts could fail and injure occupants—especially children—in a rollover accident.
A Florida jury awarded $11 million to the family of a young boy who was killed when their Mitsubishi Montero SUV rolled over and ejected him through the vehicle’s rear window. Although the boy was wearing his seatbelt, it was determined that not only was the seatbelt defective, but that Mitsubishi knew about the defect for years and did not correct the problem or inform consumers. Ten million dollars of that verdict was to compensate the family for their pain and suffering.
A Texas jury awarded a disabled oil field worker $6.5 million for injuries he sustained in 2004 when the tire tread separated on his 1993 Ford Explorer, causing the vehicle to roll over. The 41 year old was ejected from the vehicle and suffered severe brain damage and will need care for the rest of his life.
For information about auto accidents and the law, visit the FreeAdvice Auto Accident section.
If you or someone you love has suffered injuries as a result of a car or SUV rollover and would like a free case evaluation, simply fill out our case evaluation form and an experienced SUV rollover attorney will contact you for a no-cost, no obligation consultation.
Car and SUV Rollover Resources
Public Citizen: A not-for-profit watchdog organization with information about SUV and other vehicle safety hazards.
Frontline: Rollover – The Hidden History of the SUV: A 2002 Frontline documentary on public television about SUV rollovers, with articles, interviews, facts and statistics.