Sacramento Auto Product Liability Lawyers

Why SUV Rollovers Are so Common

Sports utility vehicles ("SUVs") present potentially significant hazards to occupants of passenger vehicles involved in collisions with them. In fact, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety's statistics comparing individuals killed in SUV and passenger car crashes indicate that, since 1995, almost 98 percent were passenger vehicle occupants.

Since 1992, because of the greater height and weight of SUVs, crashes between cars and SUVs have more frequently resulted in fatalities than collisions between two cars. SUVs are heavier and taller, and as a result, they ride above most cars' safety "crumple zones." Consequently, in a collision, an SUV can penetrate a car's passenger compartment. Because of the unique qualities of SUVs, the occupants of a car in a collision with an SUV are six times more likely to be killed than in a crash with another car.

The Risk of Rollover Crashes in SUVs

In 1975, Congress passed the Energy Policy and Conservation Act, which established Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFÉ) standards to force car manufacturers to increase vehicle fuel economy. In order to comply with CAFÉ standards, auto makers gradually reduced the weight of small and mid-size passenger vehicles. Weight was reduced by substituting lightweight plastic for steel in bumpers and other impact-absorbing structures.

As a result, passenger cars have become lighter and more vulnerable to SUVs and trucks with higher clearances. Passenger car occupants have much higher risk factors for serious injury and death when involved in accidents with SUVs. The high center of gravity of SUVs also makes them more likely to roll over during quick maneuvers to avoid an accident at highway speeds.

Statistics show that in all but the heaviest SUVs, occupants have higher death rates in single-vehicle accidents. The principal factor is vehicle rollover. NHTSA reports indicate that, in fatal vehicle collisions, SUVs rolled over 37 percent of the time, whereas passenger vehicles only had a 15 percent rollover rate.

SUV Rollover Statistics

According to statistics, 53% of SUV occupant deaths in single-vehicle crashes are the result of rollover accidents. Only 19% of occupant fatalities in passenger cars resulted from rollover crashes. A variety of SUV makes and models pose a risk of rollovers, but the Ford Explorer raises the greatest concern of a deadly rollover.

Of almost 6,000 accidents involving a single vehicle in Florida, the Ford Explorer posed a 13 percent higher risk of rollover as compared to other SUVs, according to a study published by The Washington Post. Executives at Ford Motor Company placed blame for the rollovers on the Firestone tires that, until the summer of 2001, were standard equipment on Ford Explorers. However, according to the Post's accident analysis, rollover crashes in Ford Explorers were just as likely when the vehicles were equipped with brands of tire other than Firestone. Based on this fact, the study determined that "an unstable suspension design" and an excessively high center of gravity were more likely the cause of the Explorer's rollover tendency. Not surprisingly, the suspension was redesigned in the 2002 Ford Explorer and Ford reduced the vehicle's ground clearance by several inches.

To schedule a free consultation with one of our knowledgeable product liability attorneys, call (916) 476-2399. Home and weekend appointments are available. We handle cases on a contingency basis, which means you do not pay us until we win. Se habla español.

Settlements & Verdicts

Piering Law Firm Has Achieved Notable Results in a Wide Range of Cases
  • $5,000,000 Wrongful Death

    A wrongful death judgment secured for a child who lost his mother as a result of domestic violence.

  • $4,893,830 Wrongful Death

    Complex wrongful death motorcycle accident involving product liability claims against both helmet and motorcycle luggage manufacturers.

  • $3,609,600 Knee Amputation

    Motorcycle vs. automobile collision resulting in below knee amputation. Client was riding motorcycle and defendant pulled out in front of him, resulting in a severe injury to client's leg, which ultimately led to the amputation of his leg, just below the knee.

  • $2,500,000 Serious Injuires

    Case involving serious injuries to a motorcycle rider who was involved in an accident with a shuttle bus on the freeway in San Francisco.

  • $2,000,000 Wrongful Death

    A settlement in a wrongful death action as a result of a crash that took the life of a motorcyclist.

  • $2,000,000 Against Bar/Security Company

    34-year-old software sales associate out with friends drinking at a bar in San Francisco. After a few hours, he leaves the bar to go home and gets in an argument outside of the club with a security guard.

  • $2,000,000 Trucking Accident

    Recovery for the victim of a rear-end traffic collision with a big rig that resulted in a neck injury.

  • $1,700,000 Trucking Accident

    Verdict received after trial for the victim of a rear-end traffic collision involving a commercial trucking company.

  • $1,300,000 Head-On Collision

    A policy limit settlement involving a head-on collision on a notoriously dangerous stretch of highway between State Highway 99 in Sacramento and Marysville, commonly known as "blood alley".

  • $1,250,000 Pedestrian Wrongful Death

    The defendant's primary limits of $250,000 were tendered in response to a conditional limit demand that required disclosure of all other coverages. The defendant had an excess policy of $1,000,000.00 which was tendered along with the primary limits.


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