According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), rollover accidents account for only 2.1% of accidents nationwide, yet make up an astounding 35% of all highway fatalities. Those figures hold true here in Minnesota as well. For example, The Minnesota Department of Public Safety reports that there were 78,465 accidents during 2017. Of those, 2.2% (or more than 1,700), were rollover accidents.
Rollover accidents are often caused by negligent habits such as speeding or distracted driving. Other times, they result from one of the 35,000 deer collisions that occur in Minnesota each year. Regardless, they can cause serious injury or even death, in which case you could need a Rochester, MN personal injury attorney.
Types of Rollover Accidents
When it comes to rollover accidents, there are basically two types: tripped and untripped. Tripped accidents occur when a vehicle makes contact with another object such as a curb. The ensuing force then causes the vehicle to roll over. Untripped rollovers on the other hand result from inertia. They are more common when vehicles are improperly loaded or the driver has been speeding.
The NHTSA reports that 95% of all rollover collisions are tripped. They list some common reasons for tripped rollovers, including:
- Allowing the tires to drop onto soft soil at the edge of a roadway.
- Making contact with a guardrail or curb.
- Driving on a steep slope, which may cause a driver to pick up too much speed.
Driver Negligence a Contributing Factor
Rollover accidents are almost always avoidable. That means that in a vast number of cases, passengers could be entitled to damages resulting from negligence. Some drivers may recover damages as well if they can show that another person’s actions directly caused the accident. An example is when someone swerves to miss another vehicle that has crossed the center line.
Some times when rollover accidents could be due to negligence include when:
- Shuttle vehicles are overloaded or unbalanced.
- Drivers are operating too fast for conditions or while under the influence.
- Guardrails are not properly marked.
- Vehicles have not been adequately maintained-for example, running on bald tires.
To prove negligence, you will need to show that:
- Duty-The defendant owed you a duty of care.
- Breach of Duty- The other person breached that duty.
- Cause in Fact-If that party had not breached the duty, your injury would not have occurred.
- Proximate Cause-The failure of the other person is what resulted in your injury.
- Damages-There are actual damages as a result.
Minnesota follows the doctrine of contributory negligence. This means that you may recover damages that are comparable with your own degree of negligence (if any). Specifically, in Section 604.01 of the Minnesota Statutes, it states that
“contributory fault does not bar recovery in an action.. to recover damages for fault resulting in death, in injury to person or property, or in economic loss”,
It goes on to say that the contributor fault must not be greater than the fault of the defendant. In addition, the amount of damages will be reduced by the amount of fault. For example, if you are deemed 20% at fault, your damages would be decreased by that amount.
How can I Show Someone was Negligent?
Being able to prove negligence often requires quick acting on your part. For example, you may need to take pictures of the accident scene before road conditions change. Tire tracks in the snow can show swerving patterns that won’t be visible whenever it melts. Likewise, you’ll want photographs of damaged guardrails before the Olmstead County Highway Division or the Minnesota Department of Transportation has a chance to fix them.
Getting witness statements is also important. This may be easier to do if you were being driven by a rideshare or shuttle service, as there will likely be a record of other passengers. Otherwise, you may need to check with police to see if they took down the name and contact information for any witnesses.
Gathering evidence is something that may not be possible if you are hospitalized or otherwise incapacitated. Before allowing too much time to go by, contact one of our attorneys instead. We’ll assess your case to determine its strengths and weaknesses. If warranted, we will also act quickly to preserve evidence so that you are not left scrambling to come up with it later.
Possible Recovery for Damages
If you are successful at proving negligence, you could be entitled to damages for:
- Physical pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
- Lost wages
- Medical bills
- Future pain and suffering
Each case is different, so we cannot guarantee you any specific outcome. What we do promise is that we will fight for your right to be justly compensated for your damages. At Patterson Dahlberg, we focus exclusively on personal injury law, and will use our vast experience to help you get the best results possible.
Possible Wrongful Death Action
As mentioned, rollover accidents are one of the most deadly forms of auto collisions. This means that if a loved one has perished in a rollover accident, you may be able to bring a wrongful death suit. A death action is spelled out in Section 573.02, and involves the appointment of a trustee to begin a lawsuit.
According to Subdivision 1 of this section, a trustee can begin an action on behalf of the deceased, provided that person would have been able to do so if he or she survived. If you’ve lost someone due to a rollover accident that was caused by someone else’s carelessness, allow us to determine if you have a remedy available under the law.
Been Injured in a Minnesota Rollover Accident? Contact Us
Despite new mandates such as Minnesota’s No Texting While Driving law, rollover accidents continue to be a problem here in the Gopher State. If your rollover accident resulted from another person’s negligence, we’d like to help you recover your damages. Contact us today to schedule your consultation. We’ll evaluate your case objectively so you can better decide which course of action to take.