Have You Been Injured In An ATV Accident?
All-Terrain Vehicles (ATV) are becoming increasingly popular; however, as the number of ATVs in use increase, so do the number of accidents. The large size and heavy weight of the ATV paired with its increased power capabilities can create a deadly combination under nonideal circumstances. With more than 100,000 ATV wrecks reported each year, the numbers of injuries and fatalities continues to rise; more than 26% of people injured on All-Terrain Vehicles are under the age of 16, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission. Spinal cord injuries and head injuries tend to be severe, and unfortunately those are two of the most common injuries incurred in an ATV accident.
What are the Statistics on ATV Accidents?
All-terrain vehicles or ATVs are motorized off-highway vehicles intended for recreational and outdoor work use, usually with four wheels and a heavy body. Sizes of ATVs vary, as does their range of speed, with the slower, smaller models designed and intended for youth. ATV injuries often occur as a result of users ignoring intended use guidelines covered in the ATV RiderCourse which is mandatory in some states and heavily recommended in all.
Let’s go over some important ATV-related crash statistics:
- According to the CPSC, the percentage of fatalities involving four-wheel ATVs increased exponentially from 1985 to 2018. With ATV fatalities occurring at around 7% before the year 1985, by 2018 ATV fatalities had risen to an alarming 98%.
- Also according to CPSC, of the reported ATV-related fatalities in 2016, 11% of the fatalities were children under the age of 16—an age range not recommended to use ATVs at all. Of those child fatalities, 45% were under the age of 12.
Since the year of 1980, over 15,000 fatalities have occurred which are directly attributed to ATV accidents.
- Although the annual death count due to ATV use seems to have decreased mildly, this is likely due to many riders switching to a new recreational vehicle, called an ROV, similar to an ATV but not included in the annual ATV reports. With this in mind, it’s more likely that the annual death count due to all-terrain vehicle use has actually increased.
Who is Responsible for ATV Accidents?
The litigation process for ATV accidents can be complicated, considering there are often many parties involved and many different factors at play. From safety negligence exhibited by the drivers themselves to existing defects on the manufacturer’s part, to poor maintenance of ATV tracks by property owners, there are many parties that could be held liable after an ATV crash. Depending on the particular circumstances of the crash, there are several parties who may be involved in any particular ATV accident case. These parties may include:
- The ATV driver. Like any other type of accident, ATV accidents are often caused by the driver’s own negligent operation of the vehicle, or incapacitation as the result of DUI or DWAI. Additionally, if the driver uses the ATV on a surface it is not intended for (i.e. paved roads), violates traffic rules, uses the ATV for purposes it is not intended for, or has their attention diverted by distractions; and when there is no structural, environmental, or mechanical error at play, the driver may be held personally accountable for the crash and its resulting injuries, fatalities, and other damages.
- The ATV manufacturer. Like any product, ATVs can be subject to manufacturing errors and defects. From cutting corners to obvious oversights in the manufacturing process, ATV accidents may occur because the manufacturer allowed the sale of a defective vehicle despite negligent aspects of the manufacturing process that render the vehicle unfit for safe use.
- The property owner. If proper maintenance of the track or property was neglected, resulting in an inability to use the ATV with a reasonable degree of safety, the individual responsible for the upkeep of that property can be held liable for any damage incurred to ATV drivers and/or passengers as a result. The property owner may be sued independently for negligent maintenance causing a crash or accident.
- Driver of another vehicle/ATV. If the crash was the result of another driver’s negligence, then that driver may be held personally responsible for resulting injuries on grounds of negligence, reckless driving, or DUI/DWAI. In instances where the driver was not at fault, but the accident occurred because of an issue of the ATV’s manufacturer, that company may be held accountable instead. Furthermore, a driver’s employer may also be held liable if the driver was operating the ATV while performing their work duties.
- The parts manufacturer. The manufacturers and/or retailers of defective vehicle parts that contributed or fully caused the ATV to malfunction and a subsequent accident to occur may be liable for the related injuries and fatalities, just as the ATV company itself would be.
- Private organization. Private groups that may have lent a dysfunctional ATV for private or professional use may also be held responsible. This is especially true if they are allowing ATVs in knowingly poor repair or missing important safety features to continue to be leased by unknowing parties with the expectation of a reasonable degree of safety.
- Adult supervising party. If an adult allows an underage/untrained rider to use an ATV unsuitable for them or without proper licensing in that state, or fails to supervise a young rider resulting in injury or death to that young rider, the adult supervising party may also be held liable for damages incurred.
Do You Have a Claim for an ATV Accident?
Depending on the nature of your own or your family member’s injuries due to an ATV accident, your personal injury lawyer may identify possible claims for:
- Medical expenses. Injuries resulting from an ATV accident may include: traumatic brain injury (TBI), traumatic spinal cord injury (SCI), internal organ injury, broken bones and/or fractures; head, neck, or back trauma; whiplash; disfigurement; burns; tissue trauma; internal bleeding; paralysis; and, in worst case scenarios, death.
- Lost wages (or impairment of earning capacity) as a result of hospital stay-time, or, for the loved one of an ATV accident victim, the necessity to temporarily or permanently extricate themselves from work in order to provide care.
- Lifecare expenses, such as life support or ongoing medical expenses for chronic injuries.
- Vocational rehabilitation
- Pain and suffering, for both emotional and physical distress.
- Loss of consortium (the services of a close family member) and loss of care and companionship
- Wrongful death.
- Funeral expenses.
If you were injured in an ATV crash or if a loved one was killed in an all-terrain vehicle accident, you need a personal injury attorney that understands the emotional and physical toll this wreck took on your life, and that can be aggressive in seeking the compensation that you deserve. If you have questions regarding your eligibility to file a personal injury claim, seek the advice of a lawyer.