Two women riding in a 2006 Nissan Altima were killed and a third was injured when the vehicle flipped on Interstate 80 after veering to the right suddenly and hitting an embankment. Shapre Nina Monique Nichols, 23, and Antoinette Danielle Powell, 22, died at the scene of the crash, which took place in Auburn. Robnisha Briggs, 24, who was riding in the front passenger seat, survived and was taken to the hospital with minor injuries.
According to police reports, the Altima was traveling west in the left or passing lane of the freeway when it suddenly swerved across the other traffic lanes, hit the embankment and overturned. The car flipped upright and veered across traffic again before come to a stop. All the women were wearing seatbelts, but it is unclear at this time if drugs or alcohol were involved.
Rollover Accidents: High Fatality Rates
According to Safer Cars, rollover accidents account for about a third of all passenger and driver fatalities, even though they make up a relatively small percentage of accidents. This means that the chances of being killed in a rollover crash are higher than in a crash that does not involve a rollover. More than 10,000 people die in rollover crashes each year.
While taller, narrower vehicles such as SUVs and pickups are more likely to rollover, sedans can also rollover, particularly if they strike an object such as an embankment. Further, although victims are 75 percent less likely to die in a rollover if they are wearing their seat belts, it is possible to be killed from the sheer impact of a rollover crash. Being belted in does help to prevent being ejected from the vehicle, however, which is a major cause of death in rollover accidents.
Liability In Rollover Crashes
When a driver’s car rolls over, one of two things is likely to have caused the accident: driver error or a defect in the vehicle. It is very important that the true cause of a rollover be determined so that the driver is not held liable for an accident that was not his or her fault.
Driver error certainly contributes to most rollover crashes. Speeding, drinking and driving, drugs and even deliberate swerving on the part of a driver can all lead to rollovers. However, there are some cases in which the driver is not doing anything wrong and a malfunction of the car causes the rollover. For example, in the recent Ford/Firestone tire cases, tire blowouts were blamed for several rollover accidents, some of which resulted in serious injuries.
When a driver is deemed responsible for a rollover crash, it is often possible for a passenger to collect damages from the driver’s insurance company or from the driver’s personal assets to pay for injuries.
If you have been injured in a rollover crash, contact a personal injury attorney immediately. It is important that you have representation to protect your interests, as insurance companies often try to pay you as little as possible in settlement.