Sports utility vehicles (SUVs) are, by design, prone to rollover. While SUV rollover accidents account for a small number of all motor vehicle accidents, they make up a large portion of fatal accidents. One reason that rollovers are so deadly is roof crush. Believe it or not, roof crush could be prevented if manufacturers made SUVs with the same roof strength as other vehicles.
SUV Roof Defects
Most SUVs do not have roll bars, and they actually have hollow roof pillars, causing them to have very poor roof crush resistance.
When SUVs first went on the market they were primarily off road vehicles. Off-road conditions make rollovers a common occurrence, so they were equipped with roll bars. Today's SUVs are sold primarily for street driving, so the roll bar is no longer standard equipment, even though they are still very likely to roll. Consumers who want the protection must request it, and pay extra.
Roof Crush Resistance and the Law
Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards require that the roof support or pillar on a passenger car must be strong enough to support one and a half times the weight of the vehicle. If the vehicle comes to rest on its roof, it should deform no more than five inches, making roof crush unlikely.
Even though SUVs are far more likely to roll, and therefore more likely to land on their roofs, they are not held to this standard. SUV roofs do not even have to be strong enough to support the full weight of the vehicle. They are only required to withstand 5/6 of the vehicle's weight, meaning that they are very likely to crush when the vehicle rolls.
How Defective SUV Roofs Cause Injuries
When the roof is crushed, it protrudes into the occupant compartment causing injuries to the spinal cord, head, and neck. Compression forces to an occupant's upright head can cause a bursting fracture in the C5 to C7 vertebrae of the cervical spine.
Roof crush can cause seatbelt failure, leading to a “diving” injury. Slack is created in the seatbelt allowing the passenger to gain momentum before striking the roof. Diving injuries cause a fracture of vertebrae, which then press on the spinal cord.
Bursting of the windshield or windows can cause passengers to be ejected from a vehicle.
If you or a loved one has been injured in an auto accident in Mobile, or anywhere in Alabama, and you believe you suffered injuries as a result of a defective SUV roof, it is important that you speak with one of our experienced defective product attorneys today. Defective vehicle claims are difficult to handle alone because there are many different parties that may be responsible for manufacturing the car.
Please call (251) 432-2277 to contact Long & Long today to schedule a free, initial consultation with our defective product attorneys in our convenient Mobile, Alabama personal injury office.