A rollover is a frightening vehicle crash in which occupants can sustain horrific injuries or death.

What causes a rollover, and what measures can you take to improve your chances of survival?

Involving lateral forces

Taller and narrower vehicles are most at risk for rollovers due to their higher center of gravity. This group includes SUVs, vans and pickup trucks. However, under the right circumstances, any vehicle can roll over. When you round a curve, for example, lateral forces come into play shifting the center of gravity to the side, which can adversely affect the balance of your vehicle.

Tripping

“Tripping” is a term that refers to the cause behind many single-vehicle rollovers. The wheel of your vehicle trips on something such as a curb, a pothole or the soft shoulder of the road. The vehicle leans to one side and the sidewall of your tire deforms. The rim of the wheel connects with the pavement or shoulder and causes a tip-up situation that quickly escalates into a rollover.

Taking safety measures

Watch your load. Keep in mind that overloading the taller, narrower vehicles, especially, affects their stability. Avoid putting heavy loads on the roof; place them inside and close to the center of gravity. Check your tires to be sure they are properly inflated. Once you are underway, make sure everyone in the vehicle is wearing a safety belt.

Citing disastrous results

Rollovers are especially horrific for passengers who, unlike the driver, have nothing to hold onto. If an occupant is not wearing a seat belt, he or she can be tossed around wildly and even thrown out of the vehicle, a circumstance that often results in a fatality. However, in a legal case, the plaintiff might point to a defect in the design of the vehicle, such as a roof that collapsed during the rollover, causing severe injury or death to an occupant. Always drive carefully, but if you are ever involved in such a crash, explore your legal options without delay.