Are Rollover Car Accidents with a Sunroof More Dangerous?
Many drivers appreciate having a sunroof to add a sense of openness to the interior of a car or SUV. Whether or not the sunroof opens or remains closed all the time, it can add to the aesthetics and comfort of a short errand or a long trip.
However, a big question pops up from time to time: Do panoramic sunroofs put drivers and passengers at greater risk of injury during a rollover car accident? Many organizations, including large organizations such as Consumer Reports and independent researchers, have sought for answers.
Before looking at the findings, you should know more about the facts surrounding rollover accidents.
What Is a Rollover Crash?
A rollover crash is exactly what it sounds like. During the accident, the vehicle begins to roll over. Some rollovers involve just one 180-degree turn with the car landing on its roof. Others may go through several rolls before stopping, particularly if the vehicle is rolling down a slope such as a highway embankment.
Fortunately, rollover accidents happen relatively rarely. Research from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) suggests that less than three percent of all accidents are rollovers. This is good news. The bad news is that rollovers account for around one-third of accident fatalities.
What makes rollovers so deadly? Drivers and passengers are at higher chance of experiencing one or more of the following severe personal injuries:
- Traumatic brain injuries: Any damage to the skull and brain can be life-altering.
- Severe lacerations: Objects may fly around in a vehicle that is rolling, leading people trapped inside to suffer from cuts and contusions.
- Neck and spinal cord damage: Anything from herniated disks and whiplash to temporary and permanent paralysis can happen to the survivor of a rollover accident.
- Broken bones, torn soft tissues, and organ damage: The human body can only endure a certain amount of intense jostling before experiencing damage to internal tissues and organs.
Even in rollover scenarios that do not result in fatalities, survivors may face extensive and expensive medical treatment.
Does a Sunroof Affect Injury Risk during a Rollover?
If you picture a rollover, you will start to realize that the vehicle roof will be hit at least once if not many times. This is where concerns about the integrity of the sunroof come into play. Namely, does the presence of a sunroof increase the likelihood of drivers and passengers being severely injured or killed during a rollover collision?
Car manufacturers have thought about that very concern, which is one of the reasons they spend so much time focusing on roof strength. Their efforts to use superior steel to design and manufacture all types of roofs help to negate any influence a sunroof might have. Even tests from the IIHS indicate that having a sunroof does not make a rollover worse for the occupants.
What about the possibility of shattered glass cutting you or someone else during a rollover? Carmakers like to choose laminated glass for modern sunroofs for that reason. Laminated glass holds together and does not turn into sharp pieces as tempered glass does. Although the glass will break into tiny pieces, it has little chance of hurting anyone.
Another way that carmakers are trying to protect rollover accident survivors is through installation of roof airbags. Roof airbags are not in common use yet, but some brands are experimenting with them. They are also experimenting with high-tech accident detection warning systems that automatically close a roof in the event of a crash.
Can You Take Steps to Prevent Injury during a Rollover?
You are probably relieved to know that your sunroof is unlikely to be a factor if you get into a rollover accident. However, you can still be hurt if your vehicle rolls over. To minimize your chances of ending up with a serious injury post-collision, take some steps.
- Use your seat belt every ride. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), people who do not wear seat belts are 10 times more likely to get hurt in a collision. Even if you are only driving a mile down the road, always buckle up. The most severe rollover injuries tend to be related to driver or passenger ejections.
- Consider the type of vehicle you drive. Some vehicles are more likely to roll over after an accident than others. When you purchase your next vehicle, you may want to investigate its rollover risk.
- Choose a vehicle with a sunroof made from laminated glass. You might be tempted to buy an older car with a sunroof. Is the sunroof made from tempered glass or safer laminated glass? Remember that laminated glass will shatter but stay somewhat together.
- Ask about upgrades such as roof airbags and accident detection systems. When speaking with a dealer about buying a newer model vehicle, ask about available upgrades and add-ons that could protect you and your passengers if a rollover occurs.
What About Exploding and Defective Sunroofs?
When talking about accidents and sunroofs, it makes sense to bring up the topic of exploding sunroof glass. Again, these types of incidents are somewhat rare. They happen when the sunroof glass shatters without warning and not during an accident.
Although it is unlikely that your sunroof will explode when you are parked or driving, you should know that you might have trouble getting it fixed. Your insurance may or may not cover the cost of replacing a sunroof that shatters on its own.
Defective sunroofs are another story and may come into play during a rollover or other accident. A sunroof can be defective for any number of reasons, such as an improper installment, lamination issue, or lack of quality of materials used in the product’s construction. Therefore, if you get into any kind of accident and your sunroof does not behave as expected, you may have grounds for investigating whether it was defective.
However, proving that a sunroof is deficient may take a little work. It may also complicate your insurance claims process. If you were hurt in a rollover or other accident and believe that your sunroof contributed to your injuries or even property loss, you may want to talk to a car accident lawyer. Having a conversation about your experience can help you figure out how to move forward based on the law and your rights as someone in an accident.
Highland Park Car Accident Lawyers at the Law Offices of Harold J. Gerr Help Clients Involved in Rollover Crashes
If you were injured after being in an accident in which the vehicle rolled over, reach out to the Highland Park car accident lawyers at the Law Offices of Harold J. Gerr. Our experienced legal team will investigate the cause of the accident and fight to recover full and fair compensation for your damages. Call us today at 877-249-4600 or 732-537-8570 or contact us online for a free consultation. Located in Highland Park, New Jersey, we serve clients in New Brunswick, Somerset, Piscataway, Edison, South River, Sayreville, Metuchen, East Brunswick, South Plainfield, Fords, Middlesex, Old Bridge, Iselin, Bound Brook, Perth Amboy, Colonia, Elizabeth, and Newark.