The Alarming Dangers Of Roof Crush

The roof of a vehicle is a very important structural component in keeping occupants safe in the event of a crash. Roof crush injuries typically occur during a rollover collision.  If the roof crushes during a rollover from the failure of the side rails, headers, or support pillars, the occupants of the vehicle are in great danger.

According to The Department of Transportation (DOT), the most dangerous collision type for light-duty vehicles are rollover crashes. It is estimated that more than 26,000 people sustain serious injuries annually due to rollover crashes, and at least one injury was due to roof contact in 7,640 of those cases. Roof intrusion was present in 93 percent of those cases.

Reasons why rollover accidents occur

  • Type of vehicle
  • Under the influence of a substance
  • Auto defect in design
  • Speeding
  • Weather conditions
  • Poor road conditions

What causes roof crush?

Auto defects are often the reasoning behind roof crush injuries due to manufacturer negligence.

When a vehicle rolls, pressure is applied to one side, weakening the roof and as the roll continues, more pressure is applied to the other side. Strong roof support is necessary for a vehicle’s roof to maintain its shape and prevent the roof from collapsing onto the passengers.

If a vehicle is rolled upside down during a crash, the vehicles entire weight presses onto the roof. If the roof fails due to an auto defect, the mass of the vehicle is likely to fall on the passengers and cause wrongful death.

The windshield and side windows become weak and can break under pressure during the roof crush. These open spaces will allow the occupants of the vehicle to be ejected during these rollover collisions, causing serious, life-threatening injuries.

The area around the occupant that remains free of interference is called survival space. Often, due to not enough survival space, even while wearing a seatbelt the occupant’s head impacts a part of the vehicle causing catastrophic injuries, such as fatal head and spine injuries.

Injuries resulting from roof failure

Catastrophic injuries to occupants of the vehicle, as well as those ejected from the vehicle are often the result of roof crush. Some injuries include:

  • Severe head injuries
  • Traumatic brain injuries
  • Spinal cord injuries
  • Traumatic amputations
  • Wrongful death

Roof crush safety standards

The National Highway Traffic Administration (NHTSA) adopted Rule 216 of the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard in an effort to prevent roof crush injuries over three decades ago.

Strengthening our roofs

In 2009 there were new standards set to the NHTSA’s Rule 216 of the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard, which is expected to improve roof strength in vehicles. The mandate called for the safer car roofs to appear in September 2012 and the full fleet in compliance by the 2017 model year.

Previously, only one side of the roof was tested with force requirements. The old standard required a roof to withstand pressure equal to one and a half times the vehicle’s curb weight. With the new standard, vehicles that have a gross weight up to 6,000 pounds, both the driver’s side and passenger’s sides of the roof will be tested. Pressure will be applied first to one side and then to the other side mimicking what would happen in a rollover collision. The roof must withstand three times the curb weight of the vehicle. Convertibles with retractable hardtops are exempt from the new safety standard.

Heavier vehicles weighing between 6,000 and 10,000 pounds must meet a less demanding standard. For the first time, these vehicles have had to meet a specific standard for roof strength. These vehicles must withstand 1.5 times the weight of the vehicle during the pressure test.

Included in the changes is a requirement for upper interior head protection to better protect the occupants kept inside the vehicle during the rollover crash. The rule establishes a new requirement for maintenance of headroom, and survival space.

This comprehensive plan includes actions to reduce the occurrence of rollovers, mitigate ejection and enhance occupant protection when rollovers occur. The NHTSA estimates this rule will prevent 135 roof crush fatalities and 1,065 non-fatal injuries annually. It will increase the cost of each vehicle by an average of 54 dollars.

The importance of seeking an Auto Product Liability Attorney

It is highly important to seek legal advice as soon as possible following a roof crush collision. An immediate and thorough investigation is critical in determining the precise cause of the roof crush injuries. A seasoned attorney will know what vehicles have a history of causing these types of injuries and the experience on how to navigate such cases. You will want someone by your side to protect your rights and aggressively pursue the compensation you rightfully deserve for your losses caused by an auto defect.

How The Carlson Law Firm can help

If you or a loved one has been injured or killed in a roof crush collision, contact The Carlson Law Firm as soon as possible. We have a team of experienced Auto Product Liability Attorneys who are prepared to help you with your claim and take the very best course of action. We are available to you 24/7. We care, we can help.

Contact us today for a free case evaluation.


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