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A violent rollover accident at nearly any speed can cause catastrophic injuries, leaving the victim with a traumatic brain injury, spinal cord damage, broken bones, or death. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), approximately 2% of all motor vehicle crashes involve a rollover.

Were you severely injured in a rollover crash, or did you lose a loved one through a wrongful death caused by another’s negligence? The personal injury attorneys at Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers, LLC can serve as your legal advocate to ensure that your family receives the financial compensation they deserve.

Contact our vehicle rollover accident lawyers at (888) 424-5757 (toll-free phone call) or through the contact form to schedule a free case consultation. All information you share with our law office remains confidential through an attorney-client relationship.

In 2020, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reported an increase of 4.6% in traffic occupant deaths from the previous year, a surprising statistic due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic shutdown. The significant rise in traffic fatalities unexpectedly rose as the number of miles traveled by vehicles in the United States dropped by 14.5%.

The National Safety Council [1] preliminary data revealed that approximately 42,000 people died in motor vehicle crashes in 2020. Additionally, nearly 4.8 million people suffered an injury in 2020 due to motor vehicle crashes, including rollovers.

National Rollover Accident Statistics

The popularity of SUVs in the early 1980s led to an increased rollover death rate over the next two decades. By 2010, better auto designs that lowered the center of gravity helped reduce the number of rollover accidents significantly, decreasing the number of rollover deaths caused by rolling or tipping over.

  • Statistics from 2014 reveal that 66% of all rollover deaths resulted from the victims not wearing seat belts when the accident occurred.
  • Approximately 45% of Americans believe they are safer traveling in an SUV than in a traditional passenger vehicle
  • In 2019, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) reported collisions, mostly rollovers, involving cars (1242), pickup trucks (831), and SUVs (1042)
  • Surveys revealed that about 50% of adults do not believe that overloading a vehicle contributes to the risk of a rollover (
  • Data shows that an SUV rollover is more likely to occur than other types of vehicles, accounting for approximately 37% of all fatal collisions, compared to the rollover rate of passenger vehicles (15%)
  • Approximately one-half of all rollover accidents end in occupant deaths
  • About 4 out of 5 people killed in rollover accidents were not wearing seat belts at the time of the crash
  • More than 55% of all single-vehicle crashes involved rollovers
  • Approximately 75% of all rollover accidents involved pickup trucks, many vans, and SUVs
  • According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), about 4.4% of all rollover accidents involve commercial trucks
  • Many rollovers occur due to the driver’s failure to adjust their speed when traveling through a curve
  • Electronic stability control has proven highly effective at avoiding crashes, especially rollovers when the driver loses control of the vehicle

Statistics by the National Automotive Sampling System Database [2] reveal that most victims in rollover accidents suffer harm to their lower limbs, upper limbs, abdomen, thorax, neck, and head.

Rollover Vehicle Occupant Deaths

According to the National Centers for Statistics and Analysis [3], approximately 75% of all occupants killed in rollover accidents were not held in place by a restraint. Approximately 66% of rollover deaths involved people ejected from the vehicle when the accident occurred.

About 6350 passenger vehicle occupants were killed in rollover crashes in 2019. Other deadly rollover accident statistics include:

  • About 4.3% of all deadly tractor-trailer crashes in the US involve a rollover
  • In 2017, 4.7% of all rollover accidents with injuries involved commercial vehicles
  • More than 78% of all cargo tank trucks involved in rollover accidents occur due to a driver’s error
  • The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration [4] data shows that most rollovers are due to a truck driver’s mistake
  • In 2019, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety reported single vehicle occupant deaths, mostly involving rollovers in cars (1123), pickup trucks (786), and SUVs (969)
  • Speed is the primary factor in 45% of all tractor-trailer crashes, including rollovers
  • Consumer Reports [5] indicates that nearly all deadly rollover accidents involve single-vehicle crashes
  • Many fatal rollover accidents are the result of the driver’s elevated BAC (blood alcohol concentration) over the legal limit of 0.08%
  • According to the Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) [6], approximately 20% of all fatal crashes result in a rollover
  • Statistically, there has been a significant decline in deadly passenger vehicle rollover crashes in recent years
  • In 2019, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety [7] reported multi-vehicle occupant deaths, mostly involving rollovers in cars (119), pickup trucks (45), and SUVs (73),
  • The number of deadly SUV rollover accidents has more than doubled in the last few decades, even faster than the number of light truck rollovers every year. (
  • Investigating police officers report that approximately 50% of all single-vehicle rollovers were the result of the occupant attempting to avoid a crash using a steering maneuver
  • Approximately 40% of all deadly single-vehicle rollover accidents involved no crash avoidance maneuver at all
  • Males under 40 years of age driving on a two-way road without a dividing barrier account for the majority of rollover vehicle accidents
  • Statistics prove that speed is the contributing factor in most fatal rollovers on roads with posted speed limits of 55 miles an hour or higher

Rollover Crashes: Causes

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), approximately 85% of all rollover deaths occur in single-vehicle crashes. However, the remaining 15% involving two or more vehicles are often the most horrific crashes leaving the accident victims severely injured or dead.

The source for causing a rollover could include:

  • The vehicle’s size, shape, and weight– Commercial tractor-trailers, box vans, SUVs, passenger vans, and pickup trucks have a higher center of gravity and are more likely to be involved in a rollover event.
  • Speed – Driving faster than the posted speed limit accounts for approximately 40% of all deadly rollover crashes. Statistics show that most rollover accidents occur on roadways with higher posted speed limits.
  • Alcohol impairment– Driving under the influence of alcohol and drugs is a contributing factor in many rollover crashes, where 50% of all fatal rollovers involve an impaired driver due to poor driving skills that compromised motor vehicle safety.
  • Location – More rollover accidents occur on higher posted speed limit areas and rural roads lacking a divider to guard against opposing traffic.
  • Distraction – According to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, any form of distraction, including texting while driving, adjusting the control knobs, eating or drinking, talking on a cell phone, or looking at a navigation system, can increase the potential of having a catastrophic collision, including a rollover.

According to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), driver inattention accounts for most rollover accidents in numerous ways, including:

  • Visual– when the driver takes their eyes off the road
  • Manual– when the driver takes their hands away from the steering wheel
  • Cognitive– when their mind drifts away from driving
  • Overcorrecting– Many distracted drivers and those driving on icy roads can quickly cause a rollover crash when overcorrecting the vehicle by turning the steering sharply, impacting the center of gravity, resulting in a rollover.
  • A tire blowout– A driver can lose control of the vehicle when a tire is flat or explodes, especially when traveling at high speeds, causing the vehicle to crash into an object and roll over.
  • Vehicle overloading– The vehicle can quickly become destabilized when carrying too much weight. Overloading vehicles can raise their centers of gravity, leading to a rollover when turning too quickly or sharply.
  • Center of gravity– Traveling too fast around a curve or corner increases the vehicle’s center of gravity, leading to a roll or tip over.

Approximately 95% of all rollovers occur from tipping when the vehicle slides sideways across a soft surface or hits a guardrail, fence, or tree. The other 5% of rollovers occur by a high-speed crash avoidance maneuver, typically with top-heavy trucks, cars, and pickups.

Typically, vehicles manufactured with high centers of gravity are more likely to roll over than wider, lower vehicles. Rollover testing [8] shows that the SUVs and pickup trucks that are most likely to be involved in a rollover crash include:

  • Cadillac Escalade
  • Chevrolet Colorado
  • Chevrolet Tahoe
  • Ford F-250
  • GMC Yukon
  • Jeep Renegade
  • Jeep Wrangler Unlimited
  • Nissan NV3500
  • Ram 2500
  • Toyota 4Runner

For decades, the media reported the excessively high number of Ford Explorer rollovers that left the passenger vehicle occupants dead or severely injured. Investigations revealed that Ford had installed many of these explores with defective Firestone tires that led to approximately 300 car occupant deaths over a decade and Ford’s design flaw that claimed more than 12,000 lives from rollovers.

Rollover Fatality Rate involving Passenger Vehicles

In 2019, single-vehicle rollovers accounted for about 49% or 4857 fatalities of all rollover occupant deaths. That same year, 1501 people died in multi-vehicle rollover collisions, representing 12% of all tip-over auto accidents.

Approximately 38% of all occupant deaths involved in rollover accidents in 2019 occurred in pickup trucks, 16% in passenger cars, and 39% in SUVs. Since 2013, the number of SUV rollover deaths has dropped dramatically (averaging 3 or 4 occupant deaths per million registered passenger vehicles per year), from the highest year of 168 occupant deaths per million registered vehicles in 1980.

Commercial Truck Rollovers

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, approximately 56% of all commercial truck rollover crashes occur on straight roads, not ramps or curves.

About 66% of all rollover crashes occur during daytime hours rather than at night. Other commercial truck rollover accident statistics include:

  • About 93% of all rollover crashes happen on dry surfaces
  • Driving too fast accounts for approximately 28% of all commercial vehicle accidents involving rollovers
  • Evasive truck maneuvers account for approximately 5% to 10% of all semi-tractor-trailer rollover crashes
  • Research shows that about 66% of all commercial truck rollovers involve truckers who have at least a decade of driving experience
  • Most commercial vehicle rollovers happen to truckers who are between 25 and 55 years old
  • About 54% of all commercial truck vehicles involved in rollover crashes had some brake defect when the accident occurred
  • About 63% of all rollover auto accidents involving cargo tanks were carrying only a partial load, likely leading to the “liquid surge effect” transporting liquid loads
  • Approximately 20% of all commercial truck rollover crashes involving inattentive driver behavior led to a severe crash

Rollover Passenger Vehicles: Common Injuries

Most rollovers are violent, leading to catastrophic injuries. Any survivor of a horrific rollover might deal with lifelong changes to their health and well-being. The most common types of injuries involved in a rollover crash include:

  • Traumatic brain injury– A blunt force trauma to the head inside the vehicle or after ejection could leave the victim with severe traumatic brain injuries when there is a jolt to the skull. While some brain trauma might heal over time, the severe impact of a direct blow could cause permanent brain damage.
  • Spinal cord injury– Any catastrophic injury to the back or neck could lead to a paralysis of the pelvis and legs (paraplegia) or paralysis of the arms, shoulders, torso, pelvis, and legs (tetraplegia/quadriplegia). Any blow to the spinal column could injure the soft tissue and vertebrate discs requiring surgery and involving ongoing (chronic) pain.
  • Fractures and broken bones– Even if the victim wore a seatbelt at the time of the rollover crash, their body would likely be tossed and turned inside the vehicle or ejected through a window, striking the roadway or objects. Any forceful impact could break arms, wrists, legs, the spine, skull, and facial bones.
  • Deep cuts and lacerations– The jagged metal and broken glass in a vehicle rollover crash expose the victim’s skin to horrific disfigurement and permanent scarring that might require surgical intervention or repair.
  • Internal organ damage– A traumatic blow in a vehicle accident during a rollover could cause significant damage to the internal organs through forceful impact or broken ribs that penetrates the lung, liver, or tissue.
  • Crush injuries– A buckling roof or dashboard during a rollover accident could cause crushing injuries to the abdomen, limbs, shoulders, or pelvis.

Types of Rollover Accidents

Various scenarios can cause a rollover crash with occupant deaths and injuries. The majority of rollover accidents involve:

  • Trip over– A rollover is induced when the vehicle suddenly slows or stops
  • Flip over– A rollover occurs when the vehicle strikes an object, rotating along its longitudinal axis
  • Bounce over– The vehicle rebounding off a fixed object then overturns
  • Turned over– The vehicle’s centrifugal force occurring during a sharp turn rotates the vehicle when it resists surface friction
  • Fall over– A top-heavy vehicle affected by directional movement when traversing down slopes could cause the vehicle to fall over
  • Climb over– The force of the vehicle moving in a direction causes it to climb over an object lifting the vehicle off the ground completely
  • Colliding with another vehicle – Another vehicle’s forces on the car or truck causes it to roll over
  • End over end– The vehicle flips over its primary lateral axis after crashing into a solid object resulting in an end over end roll.

Numerous contributing factors will determine the crash severity, including vehicle type, the speed, the restraint used by the passenger vehicle occupants, the number of turns before it rolls, and the intensity of a forceful impact.

Other contributing factors include a rooftop intrusion or other extensive damage to the vehicle, whether the event involved one or more vehicles, the vehicle’s design, and what initiated the rollover.

Surviving a rollover crash could depend on the occupant’s age, body mass index, where they were located when the vehicle flipped, and if they were confined or ejected from the vehicle’s interior during or after the crash.

Rollover Accident Statistics FAQs

Surviving a catastrophic rollover crash or living with life-threatening injuries can devastate family members dealing with the aftereffects. Below are the most frequently asked rollover accident questions.

What Percentage of Accidents are Rollovers?

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), approximately 3% of all car accidents involve rollover crashes. However, about 35% of all passenger vehicle fatalities are associated with a rollover or tip-over accident.

More fatalities are caused by rollover accidents than any other contributing factor other than a head-on collision. In nearly 70% of all rollover deaths, the driver or their passengers were not wearing seatbelts when the crash occurred.

Can You Survive a Rollover Crash?

About 35% of all rollover accidents result in a fatality. Statistics show that what the individual does as the accident is happening and after the crash increases their chances of survival and avoids horrific injuries.

Studies show that the occupant should prepare themselves for the rollover, remove their foot from the pedals to avoid breaking an ankle, and release the steering wheel while crossing the arms against their chest.

Once the vehicle has stopped rolling, assess all damage to yourself and others and call 911 immediately. Turn the engine off, exit the vehicle, and stay clear of any traffic to avoid additional harm.

Why are Rollovers so Deadly?

Statistically, only head-on crashes cause more fatalities every year in the United States than rollover accidents. Many single-vehicle rollover crashes occur by sliding sideways off the roadway where the tires dig into the soil or strike something like a curb or guardrail.

In many cases, the rooftop collapses during the rollover, leading to traumatic brain injuries or spinal cord damage. Many rollover accident victims suffer internal organ damage, tissue bleeding, fractures & broken bones, cuts & lacerations, and perforated organs.

How Many People Die in Rollover Accidents?

The National Safety Council preliminary data revealed that 33,654 people were killed in motor vehicle crashes in 2018. According to their fatality rate, approximately 7.8%, or 2620, lives were lost due to a rollover accident through tripping (hitting an object) or non-tripping where the driver made a steering maneuver that caused the vehicle with a high center of gravity to roll over.

The rollover accident fatality rate has dropped significantly over the last few decades, especially for accidents involving an SUV and light truck, due to safer designs of each vehicle type. Other contributing factors have reduced the number of deaths occurring in rollover vehicle crashes, including law enforcement ticketing drivers exceeding the speed limits.

Don’t Be a Statistic. Hire a Rollover Accident Attorney to Handle Your Compensation Case Today

Were you the victim of a rollover accident, or did you lose a loved one in a wrongful death caused by another’s negligence? The personal injury attorneys at Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers, LLC can serve as your legal advocate to ensure your family receives the financial compensation they deserve.

Contact us today at (888) 424-5757 (toll-free phone call) or through the contact form to schedule a free consultation. We understand that not all families have money to hire an attorney. We accept all cases on a contingency fee basis, meaning no payments are required until we settle your case or win your lawsuit at trial.

Our legal team currently follows CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), Covid-19 (coronavirus epidemic) social distancing guidelines to protect our clients’ health.

Resources: [1] National Safety Council, [2] NHTSA, [3] NHTSA, [4] FMCSA, [5] Consumer Reports, [6] NHTSA, [7] Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, [8] Crash Test

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