The death toll from last Thursday's deadly sport utility vehicle rollover on Interstate I-26 stands at three after a 1-month-old infant died from crash-related injuries at a local hospital last weekend. According to reports, there were eight people in the SUV when -- for reasons that remain unclear -- the vehicle veered off the side of the highway and flipped.
Two of the occupants, a 35-year-old woman and a 27-year-old woman, appear to have been pronounced dead at the scene of the rollover accident, while the other six were reportedly transported to area hospitals.
At first glance, many South Carolina residents might read about a single car accident like this one and assume it would not lead to a civil lawsuit for personal injury or wrongful death. In fact, people who are injured in single-vehicle accidents oftentimes assume the same thing and don't pursue any legal action.
This is frequently a mistake.
While it's certainly true that the fault for some or perhaps even most single-vehicle accidents can be attributed to driver mistakes or carelessness, a significant percentage of these crashes have other causes.
For example, certain SUV models have been shown to have design defects that can either cause accidents to occur or make it more likely that occupants of the vehicle will be seriously injured or killed if a crash occurs. Defective automobile parts and components, including tires, have also been known to cause accidents. In any event, auto and auto parts manufacturers can sometimes be held liable for damages under product liability law.
Another possible cause for single-vehicle rollover accidents like this one is a defect in the road surface or a road design flaw that makes a particular section of road unreasonably dangerous. These types of cases typically involve government entities as defendants and may be even more complicated than product liability cases.
The bottom line: don't make any assumptions about your legal rights and options after a car accident. Talk to an attorney first -- and the sooner you do this, the better.
Source: WECT News, "Third NC victim dies after Interstate-26 SC crash," July 24, 2012