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Is My Sunroof Safe in a Rollover Crash?    

Published: Jul 25, 2022 in Auto Accident
The East St. Louis Car Accident Lawyers at the Cates Law Firm Help Injured Victims of Rollover Crashes.

Modern technology has made driving a car, truck, or SUV more appealing than ever. Whether it’s improved safety equipment like active cruise control or better passenger comfort like dual climate control, the new cars are tailored specifically to our needs. Panoramic sunroofs are a newer feature in vehicles today that create a more spacious and airier feel in the cabin area. However, many may wonder how safe they actually are, particularly in a rollover crash.

Fortunately, federal regulations require panoramic sunroofs to pass rigorous safety tests, as they do with all newer features car manufacturers offer. Crash tests are used to determine if a new car design contains any structural weaknesses to make sure that these features are safe enough for production. Ratings become available to the consumer to help them make an educated decision due to these tests; in fact, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) has a rating for roof strength in all the cars they test.

These crash safety tests performed under federally regulated guidelines have determined that the sunroof has little to no impact to the overall strength of a vehicle’s roof. A vehicle’s structure is based on strong steel, with an even stronger steel that hold the roof up. These are called pillars, and are labeled A, B, C, or D, depending on the location. These pillars and the roof itself are what absorb the impact of a car crash, not a sunroof.

A modern panoramic sunroof is not only tested to ensure its safety, but is also made of a laminated glass that can break without showering glass all over the interior of the vehicle. Laminated glass is two panes of glass with plastic in between, opposed to tempered glass, which is a single pane of glass and produces shards of glass at impact. Tempered glass is of course dangerous for passengers should an accident occur.

The Dangers of Roll Over Crashes

Despite the strengthened steel of a modern car roof, rollover crashes are still dangerous. However, experts agree that rollover crashes are particularly dangerous because of the increased chances of being ejected from the vehicle. Wearing a seatbelt is the best way to prevent being ejected from a vehicle, even if the vehicle does have a sunroof. In fact, research by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) found that those who are not wearing a seat belt in an accident are ten times more likely to be ejected from the vehicle compared to those who do. Those ejected from a vehicle during a crash are more likely to suffer a devastating injury or death.

Even with a seatbelt, however, a rollover crash will still likely lead to an injury. Rollover crashes are among the most dangerous types of car accidents, accounting for more than 10,000 fatalities per year. Some experts believe that there is a direct correlation between the increased number of light trucks and SUVs on the road today and rollover crashes: SUVS have a higher center of gravity, making them more prone to rollovers.

Rollover accidents normally involve a single vehicle, but it is possible to rollover in a crash involving more than one car. Some common causes of a rollover accident include:

  • Inclement weather: Slippery conditions, like rain, ice or snow, can cause a rollover accident, especially at higher speeds, when the driver can easily lose control of the vehicle.
  • Reckless driving: Reckless drivers often lose control of their vehicles, which lead to a collision with an object or another vehicle, raising the possibility of a rollover.
  • Objects in the road: An object or obstacle in the road can tip a vehicle’s balance, and while travelling at high speeds, can lead to a rollover.
  • Vehicle construction: Taller and more narrow vehicles that have high centers of gravity are more susceptible to a rollover than smaller vehicles.
  • Imbalanced cargo: Not loading a vehicle properly and making it more top heavy can lead to a rollover crash. When loading a vehicle, be sure to have the weight evened out and as low as possible.

Rollover accidents injures five main areas of the human body: the head and neck, abdomen, thorax, and upper and lower limbs, with the head and neck most vulnerable. These injuries can occur within the cabin area or from being ejected from the vehicle. The most common rollover accident injuries include:

  • Spinal cord injuries: An injury to the spinal cord can lead to partial or complete paralysis, nerve damage, or loss of organ function.
  • Traumatic brain injury (TBI): Traumatic brain injury or other head injuries can lead to memory loss, headaches, inability to maintain focus, and other major symptoms. Traumatic brain injuries can lead to partial or permanent disability.
  • Broken or fractured bones: Rollover accidents likely lead to broken or fractured bones, as the sheer weight of impact can easily injure a passenger. Broken or fractured bones require lengthy recovery times and may need surgery.
  • Cuts, contusions or lacerations: It is quite common to suffer a cut or bruise from a rollover crash, as there is likely debris, glass, and other objects in the cabin area.

Determining Liability in a Rollover Accident

Determining liability in a rollover crash can be a difficult task, especially if two or more cars are involved in the accident. If it is a single car accident, rollover accidents are normally caused either by driver error or another external factor, unless another car ran another car off the road. A police officer on the scene may document what they believe happened in their police report, which will help establish liability.

A rollover accident involving two drivers will likely lead to injuries, high damage costs, and can be very difficult in determining liability. In most of these cases, a car accident lawyer can help with the case, as they can help find who is responsible for the accident. Lawyers can collect all the evidence, help reconstruct the scene, and even consult with car accident experts to determine who is liable.

The East St. Louis Car Accident Lawyers at the Cates Law Firm Help Injured Victims of Rollover Crashes

If you have been involved in an accident or have been injured because of another driver’s negligence, then you must contact our East St. Louis car accident lawyers at the Cates Law Firm right away. Call us today at 618-277-3644 or fill out our online form for a free consultation. With our offices located in Swansea, Illinois, we proudly serve all communities of Belleville, Carbondale, East St. Louis, Granite City, Edwardsville, Chester, Waterloo, St. Louis, Madison County, St. Clair County, Monroe County, and Randolph County.