Michael Hill, 24, of Rancho Santa Margarita, was killed in an Irvine SUV rollover car accident the afternoon of June 20, 2009. Hill was identified later by the Orange County Coroner’s Department. According to a news report in The Orange County Register, Hill died after his Ford Explorer sport utility vehicle went airborne for 200 feet landing on the dirt and rock embankment off the 241 toll road at the 133 in Irvine.

California Highway Patrol officials said Hill was driving at a high rate of speed when his vehicle veered right and went off the roadway. After it went out of control, the Ford Explorer was airborne before crashing down on its left front end. The SUV then rolled over twice before coming to rest on its roof facing south. The Orange County Coroner’s report states that Hill was ejected from the Explorer. The report does not mention whether Hill was wearing his seat belt.

I offer my deepest condolences to the family and friends of Michael Hill for their tragic and heartbreaking loss. My heart goes out to everyone who knew and loved Hill. Please keep them in your prayers.

Rollover accidents account for more than 10,000 fatalities in the United States each year. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), rollover accidents are more likely to result in death than other types of accidents. In 2004, about 2.7 percent of occupants involved in rollover accidents were fatally injured. That same year, only 0.2 percent of occupants involved in accidents that did not involve rollovers were fatally injured. This means 33 percent of all passenger vehicle occupant fatalities in 2004, occurred in accidents that involved a rollover.

Ford SUVs, particularly the Explorer and Expedition, are notorious for rolling over even at low speeds. Because of their high center of gravity, these Ford sport utility vehicles are disproportionately prone to rollovers compared to other passenger vehicles. Roof crush is also a serious problem in these vehicles. Basically, when one of these brands of SUVs rolls over, the roof of the vehicle does not maintain its shape. It’s so flimsy, weakly designed and constructed that it crushes the occupants of the vehicles, resulting in catastrophic or fatal brain injuries and spinal cord injuries. Bisnar | Chase has represented several car accident victims who have been paralyzed in such rollover crashes involving Ford SUVs and have suffered permanent disabilities requiring 24/7 care.

Michael Hill’s family would be well-advised to contact a reputed auto product liability law firm that has experience pursuing large auto makers such as Ford, General Motors as well as other Japanese auto manufacturers in auto product defect cases. In Hill’s accident it is also important to look into whether he was ejected from the Explorer as a result of seatbelt defects. The Hill family would also be well-advised to preserve the Explorer in its current condition so it can be thoroughly examined by an expert for auto product defects including seatbelt defects, mechanical problems and other evidence.