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Knoxville Ejection Crashes Often End in Serious Injury, Death

A female passenger was killed in Rockwood, after troopers say she was ejected from her vehicle.
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Authorities say the driver over-corrected three times before spinning and flipping off the road and then slamming into a tree and a utility pole. The 54-year-old passenger was pronounced dead at the scene, while the 50-year-old male driver faces numerous charges.

Our Knoxville injury lawyers recognize vehicle rollover and vehicle ejection are leading causes of fatal injuries.

A 2012 study published by the “Annals of Advances in Automotive Medicine” found that ejection greatly increases the risk of injury and fatality in a rollover crash. Specifically, researchers analyzed rollover crash data from 2000 to 2010, obtained from the National Automotive Sampling System, looking for elements that would heighten ejection risk. Among those elements explored:

  • Seat belt use;
  • Rollover severity;
  • Vehicle type;
  • Seating position;
  • Roof crush;
  • Side curtain airbag deployment;
  • Glazing type;
  • Occupant age, gender and size.

Of these elements, seat belt use was found to reduce and in some cases virtually eliminate the risk of complete ejection. But even belted passengers had a higher rate of ejection when they were occupants of light trucks or vans, when there were more roof inversions and when the occupant was physically larger in size.

We often think of ejection as occurring through the front windshield, but in vehicles with sun roofs, passengers in a rollover crash often were ejected through the window in the roof.

The top factors in these cases were:

  • Seat belt use;
  • Fewer roof inversions;
  • Vehicle type.

Even though Tennessee law requires seat belt use is required by all drivers, front seat passengers and any occupants under the age of 18, one’s failure to wear a seat belt in these instances does not negate the liability of a negligent driver.

Compounding matters is that crashes like these often result in worse outcomes in rural areas, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Association. Primarily, that has to do with the fact that it takes emergency crews nearly twice as long to respond to a crash scene in a rural area versus an urban area (an average of 19 minutes versus 7 minutes). Every second in these situations is precious.

The NHTSA further found that of the more than 20,300 rural-area fatal crashes that occurred in 2004, nearly 40 percent involved vehicle rollovers. Meanwhile, organizations like the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety continue to look at vehicle roof strength and other issues associated with rollover crashes. Still, while rollover crashes occur in just 2 percent of all traffic accidents, they account for more than one-third of all traffic deaths.

So far in Knox County, there have been 32 motor vehicle fatalities this year, according to the Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security. It ranks third in the state for the highest number of crash fatalities, behind only Davidson and Shelby counties.

If you are involved in a Knoxville traffic accident, contact Hartsoe Law Firm, P.C. at (865) 524-5657.

Additional Resources:
One killed after partial ejection in Rockwood accident, Aug. 20, 2013, Staff Report, Knoxville News Sentinel

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