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A 1998 Acura Integra rolled over killing the driver. According to a Lewiston Police officer at the scene, the driver of the Integra lost control and left Byden Canyon Road near 8th Street and rolled over several times ejecting the driver. The other occupant of the car was taken to a local hospital with unkonwn injuries.

The accident happened around 4 p.m., Friday, February 7, and it’s unknown if either the driver or occupant was wearing his seatbelt. Lewiston Police are asking if anyone saw the accident or have information regarding it, please call them at 208-746-0171.

Roll-Over Accidents

According to the National Transportation Highway Safety Administration, roll-over crashes have a much higher fatality and serious injury rates than a typical two-car accident. There were over 7 million crashes in 2017, and only 2 percent (140,000) were roll-overs. However, nearly 35 percent of all traffic fatalities came from roll-over crashes.

This obviously means that once someone leaves there car in a rollover accident, their risk of serious injury and death goes up substantially.

Seatbelts and Rollover Accidents

In a study by the National Center for Biotechnology Information, seatbelts reduce the risk of an ejection during a rollover accident from 20 percent to .03 percent. Out of 381 rollover’s studied, five ejections were by those wearing their seatbelt and the other 376 were not wearing any restraint.

What to do in a Roll-Over

If you are in a roll-over accident, there are steps you can take to reduce further injury. They are

  • Stay calm: This is the most important, and for some the most difficult. But if you can stay or get calm, you can think better and make better decisions.
  • Turn off engine: If you can get to the ignition, turn off engine. This will reduce the chance of fire and further injury.
  • Do/Don’t undue your seatbelt:
    • Don’t ff you are hanging, especially, undoing your seatbelt can cause further injury when you release. Wait for someone to come help if you absolutely have to undue your seatbelt. Ideally, wait for professional first responders to arrive.
    • Do if there is a fire of a chance of the vehicle falling off a cliff or some other event that would be catastrophic if you didn’t avoid. If you have to do it by yourself, try and position yourself to that your head will not impact first.

Roll-Over Liability

In a typical accident where two or more cars are involved, the liability for a roll-over crash is going to be on the at-fault driver. However, there are circumstances where it’s not that simple. When only one car is involved, then the at-fault person is most likely the driver of the car that rolled. Many people don’t seek compensation because they think think that they can’t or that they will strain their relationship with the driver. However, it is the driver’s insurance that will pay the compensation not the driver.

Another issue comes up with the use of a seatbelt. Many feel that there would be no ejection and serious injury if they had worn their seatbelt and thus they have to right to seek compensation. However, under California law, any violation of criminal law (speeding, seatbelt, etc.) does not create negligence in a civil suit.

This means that if you weren’t wearing your seatbelt, you can still make a claim for your injuries. In some cases, the lack of a seatbelt might reduce the amount of compensation, but don’t assume that you can’t get any compensation. California is a comparative fault state meaning that the negligence for someone’s injuries can be divided between the parties, and thus not wearing your seatbelt can reduce the amount of fault for the other driver, but you can still be compensated for your injuries.

Do I need and Attorney?

Unfortunately, if you are involved in a rollover accident where injury occurred, eventually you will have to deal with the financial loss that comes with it. The best thing to do—after you take care of your immediate medical needs—is to talk to someone who can advise you of your rights and legal options. This doesn’t mean that you have to retain an attorney, but speaking to one can give you the correct information to make a decision.

You need talk to an attorney that knows the law regarding rollover accidents and can advise you and evaluate your case.  The attorneys at  Crary, Clark, Domanico, & Chuang, P.S., serve clients in Spokane, Washington, Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, and surrounding communities. They can go toe-to-toe with the insurance companies and their lawyers to get you fair compensation for your injuries. Call them at (509) 926-4900, or send them a message.

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