As a southern Illinois product liability attorney, I know vehicle rollovers are one of the most dangerous types of car wreck — and also one that’s commonly associated with bad vehicle design. So I was disappointed to read that a single-vehicle rollover in Madison County, Ill., has put a mother and three children under the age of five in area hospitals. According to a June 2 article from the Belleville News-Democrat, Jessica Dillon, 25, of Roxana swerved to avoid a piece of metal in her lane on Illinois 255. The maneuver sent her Chevrolet Trailblazer into the left-hand median of the road, overturned, slid into the opposing lanes and was hit by a utility truck. Two of the children and their mother were listed in serious or critical condition as of June 2; the fourth was treated and released.
Jessica Dillon was heading south at about 11:45 a.m. May 31 when she swerved to avoid the metal in the road. The Illinois State Police report said she lost control of the Trailblazer, which overturned in the median. The car was then hit by a utility truck driven by Cody Helms, 16, of Edwardsville. Tristynn Dillon, age 4, was using a seatbelt but not an age-appropriate booster seat and was ejected from the car. She is in critical condition at Cardinal Glennon Hospital in St. Louis. The crash also caused serious injuries to Jessica Dillon and to Timothy Dillon, 2. Tyler Dillon, two months, suffered only minor injuries. The other occupants had age-appropriate safety restraints. Helms was not injured. Illinois State Police were still investigating and had not cited anyone as of June 2.
The newspapers have highlighted the issue of Tristynn Dillon’s safety restraints, and I agree that safety restraints are important. But as a St. Louis car crash lawyer, I’d also like to talk about the possibility that the Trailblazer was defective. SUVs came under fire 10 to 15 years ago, after their rising popularity drew attention to the fact that they were more likely to roll over than conventional passenger cars. Federal data from 2000 shows that rollovers accounted for 22 percent of fatal accidents involving cars, but 61.5 percent of fatal SUV crashes. Safety experts believe SUVs’ higher centers of gravity make them more likely to tip over, sometimes even in common driving situations such as swerving and leaving the road. If that was the case here, it’s possible that an inherently unstable — that is, defective — design was at the root of this family’s crash.
When the cars and car parts are defective, even the best driver in the world can’t do much to avoid a serious accident. That’s why Carey, Danis & Lowe helps injured people and their families hold automakers legally responsible for accidents caused by defects in their products. Like all consumer product manufacturers, car companies are legally obligated under Illinois and Missouri law to ensure that their products are reasonably safe, or warn about risks from using them. When they fail to do that, our Missouri auto accident attorneys help clients sue them over the personal and financial effects of their negligence. In a lawsuit, injured people can win the money they need to pay medical costs, support themselves while they cannot work and be fully compensated for pain, suffering and permanent losses.
If you or someone you love was injured by a defective product, including a defective car or auto part, Carey, Danis & Lowe can help. For a free evaluation of your case, call us toll-free at 1-877-678-3400 or send us a message online today.