All-Terrain Vehicle Accident Lawsuits
Settlements, Compensation and Hiring a Personal Injury Lawyer
While all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) are safely used and enjoyed by thousands of Americans each year, they also can be extremely dangerous. Recreational ATV accidents claim more than 700 lives annually and injure another 135,000, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). About one-third of fatalities and injuries each year are to children under 16 years old. In the workplace, ATV accidents claim the lives of about 11 people a year and injure another 163, according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). ATV accidents can result in a traumatic brain injury. The most common of these is a closed head injury.
To learn more, review the information below. If you or someone you love has been injured or killed in an ATV accident, ATV accident attorneys or wrongful death lawyers can help protect your legal rights.
An ATV accident is legally defined as any situation with an ATV that results in property damage, injury and or/death. These accidents are usually caused by the negligence of one of the drivers.
Victims of ATV accidents cannot obtain compensation without first proving negligence to an insurance company or court. To prove negligence, victims must show that the ATV accident:
- Caused harm
- Was caused by another party's carelessness
- Is the fault of that party, who is therefore responsible for compensation
In cases where more than one party is at fault, liability is distributed based on the estimated percentage of fault. In legal terms, this concept is known as comparative negligence.
Compensation can be awarded in order to cover a variety of expenses, including:
- Lost Income
- Lost Prospects
- Medical Expenses
- Physical & Psychological Pain
- Property Repairs
These values are determined by insurance companies and juries, which normally use predetermined formulas.
Some states have no-fault insurance laws, which are intended to minimize claims from less significant accidents, as well as encourage prompt compensation for medical expenses and lost income. However, these laws can sometimes prevent victims from receiving other types of compensation. For this reason, many people in no-fault insurance states seek the services of personal injury attorneys. If you have been the victim of an ATV accident, a personal injury attorney can provide you with examples of settlements and court awards related to ATV accidents.
Many factors contribute to ATV accidents. Most fall into two categories: operator behavior and equipment failure.
Operator behaviors, including those listed below, lead to many ATV accidents.
Driving without proper training. ATV safety education certificates and a valid driver's license are required by very few states and then only on ATV-designated public roads. This means that many ATV operators do not have formal training. Lack of training can lead to serious mistakes, especially while crossing rough terrain, climbing steep slopes or traveling on paved roads (ATV tires are not designed for pavement). These mistakes can lead to a collision with another motor vehicle, collisions with stationary objects or other non-motorized objects or a non-collision accident, such as a rollover. If you have been involved in an accident caused by an untrained or inexperienced ATV operator, you may be entitled to compensation.
Hauling a passenger(s) or load against manufacturer's recommendations. Many ATVs are not meant to carry a load or additional passengers. Adding a passenger or load increases the vehicle's weight and hinders the vehicle's maneuverability, increasing the likelihood of a rollover. Though all ATVs are manufactured with published weight limits, an untrained or inexperienced operator may not realize the dangers associated with an overload.
Allowing children to operate adult-size ATVs. Most serious ATV accidents involving children happen while they are operating adult-size ATVs. Adult-size ATVs have engine sizes and speed limits that require more strength, ability and experience than most children possess. The ATV industry recommends:
- Engines under 70 cubic centimeters (cc) for children 6 to 12 years of age
- Engines 90 cc and under for children 12 to 16 years of age
- Engines over 90 cc only for ATV operators age 16 and older
ATVs designed for children can be adjusted for maximum speed limits. The following speed limits are recommended by ATV manufacturers:
- Fifteen miles per hour for children ages 6 through 11
- Thirty miles per hour for children over age 12
In addition, the ATV industry recommends that a child be supervised by a responsible adult while operating an ATV. This also is the law in many states.
If your child has been injured as a result of operating someone else's adult-size ATV or operating someone else's ATV without adult supervision and without your permission, a personal injury attorney can help you determine if your child is eligible for compensation.
Driving on public roads. ATVs are rarely allowed to operate on public roads because of the possibility of a collision with a motor vehicle. Where ATVs are permitted, ATV equipment requirements may be imposed, including:
- Headlights & taillights
- Spark arrester
Government negligence can be present when an ATV accident happens on a public road. For example, if a road sign warning of an intersection or other hazard is missing, obscured by foliage or faded for an extended length of time, a government entity may be liable. There are specific rules and time limits for filing an ATV accident claim against a government entity. For more information, contact an ATV accident attorney.
Driving under the influence of alcohol, drugs or medications. In most states, operating an ATV under the influence of alcohol or drugs is a criminal offense and, therefore, prosecuted in a criminal court. However, a civil suit against the alleged drunk driver can be filed and compensation obtained, regardless of the verdict in the criminal case. In some cases, the accused will retain an attorney to fight DUI charges to protect his or her legal rights. To learn about various aspects of DUI cases, including the cost of DUI bail, visit our section devoted to this topic.
Other dangerous behaviors. Driving on paved roads, driving over terrain that is too rough and /or steep and traveling too fast for the terrain are also common contributing factors leading to ATV accidents.
Some ATV accidents and resulting injuries are caused by equipment failure. Common equipment failures leading to an ATV accident and injury involve the following:
- Steering mechanisms
- Lighting equipment
A defective helmet also would constitute a design failure. A flaw might be present in the chinstrap, the outer shell of the helmet or the cushioning liner and padding inside the helmet. Helmets that do not meet U.S. Department of Transportation standards should not be worn.
Equipment failure often is due to negligence on the part of someone involved in the manufacture or maintenance of an ATV. Victims of defective equipment or poor workmanship are eligible to file personal injury claims and earn compensation. Many well-known class action lawsuits are filed against manufacturers of products with design flaws. Victims can also pursue legal action against technicians or service shops when faulty repairs lead to equipment failure.
If you suspect equipment failure or an ATV manufacturing defect contributed to an ATV accident in which you or a loved one were involved, be sure the ATV is preserved so that it can be used as evidence in a trial, if necessary. You should also consider contacting a personal injury attorney to determine your legal rights.
While some ATV accident claims are handled through insurance companies, many victims choose to seek out the services of a personal injury attorney, who can help them reach a settlement with those responsible or file a lawsuit seeking compensation for their suffering. Auto accident attorneys with experience handling ATV accident lawsuits can thoroughly evaluate your case and help file claims against negligent drivers, manufacturers or technicians.
The assistance of an attorney may be necessary if:
- The insurance company refuses to fully compensate you for medical expenses, property damage, lost income, psychological pain and/or lost prospects. This situation is most common in no-fault insurance states.
- You are experiencing prolonged delays in settling the claim.
- Your claim is denied by an insurance company or a government entity.
- The negligent party is not insured.
If any of the preceding situations applies to you, contact a personal injury attorney today to learn more about ATV settlements and lawsuits.
According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), 555 ATV related fatalities and 146,600 emergency room treated injuries were reported in 2006.