With warmer months right around the corner, ATVs (all-terrain vehicles) tend to be the hot item that individuals take out to enjoy the summertime weather. Whether it be hitting the trails or simply enjoying the outdoors, ATVs are an excellent way for friends and family to get around. In some areas of our country, off-roading has only increased in popularity, as children from California to West Virginia getting started with their first side-by-side or ATV.
Riders Injured In Off-Roading Accidents
Just about any experienced rider will tell you that off-roading isn’t something that a novice rider should take on without caution. It takes extreme care and skill to minimize the possibilities of encountering a serious injury, which is something that is all too common within the ATV riding community. Roughly every year 428 individuals die in accidents related to ATV use (according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission.) As far as injuries, roughly tens of thousands of individuals are severely injured, which includes young children who are treated in emergency departments on a yearly basis.
In many of these situations, the accidents happen due to difficult riding conditions, whether it be inadequate trails or inclement weather that puts riders in a dangerous spot. Although careless or inexperienced riders are a serious concern, a minor lapse in an experienced rider’s judgment can still lead to a roll over or a crash.
Do ATV Companies Have Accountability?
In the world of off-roading, there’s so much responsibility that lands on the shoulders of the riders. They need to utilize every precaution in order to protect themselves – as well as loved ones. However, it’s important that the vehicle manufacturers come through on their end of the bargain. An off-road vehicle is dangerous as it is, which only means that side-by-side and ATV manufacturers must have a strict duty so passengers and riders can be as safe as possible within their vehicles.
Sadly, many manufacturers do not hold their end of the bargain and it results in the injury (or death) of someone operating their equipment. Every single year thousands of side-by-sides, four wheelers, and other off-roading equipment are pulled from the market or recalled due to resounding safety issues. With most cases, the faulty equipment had already been purchased and/or used by families, riders, or enthusiasts who unexpectedly put themselves in danger. However, in events where a defective ATV makes an individual a victim, it is possible to pursue a product liability lawsuit and recieve valuable financial compensation.
Product Liability Lawsuits & Design Defects
When it comes to off-road vehicles, they must be manufactured and designed carefully. When maneuvering obstacles on trails, side-by-sides and ATVs must be sufficiently tall. However, this height (although necessary) can create a significant amount of danger since it increases opportunity for rollovers and raises the center of gravity.
So in order for manufacturers to compensate or prevent such dangerous circumstances from happening, the engineers will calibrate the wheel and tire sizes to exact standards – which creates a larger surface on the tire for gripping the ground when maneuvering turns. In addition to this, the vehicle’s frame and wheelbase must be taken into account as well.
Sadly, it’s all too often that manufacturers of off-road equipment neglect to build their products with the safety features required to ensure that the ride is safe to operate. In worst case scenarios, the side-by-side and ATV vehicles are dangerous by design. So by simply offering such product to the public, they’re not just putting customers at risk, but open up opportunity for legal liability in the event something goes wrong.
However, it is possible that an injured rider can pursue compensation with a civil lawsuit. Whether it be demanding damages in order to cover unforeseen medical expenses, wages lost due to an accident, or associated pain and suffering, one may be entitled to such compensation. If the accident had resulted in death, it is possible that the surviving members of the family can seek compensation through a wrongful death lawsuit when an ATV defect causes an accident.
Yamaha Rhino Deaths & Injuries
It was in 2003 when Yamaha pioneered off-roading product with the Yamaha Rhino side-by-side. Since it was much easier to handle than the average ATV, it was marketed to fishers, hunters, and aging riders. It quickly became a hit, but the accidents quickly piled up almost immediately after its release. To make matters worse, Yamaha ignored concerns before the release of the vehicle knowing it was dangerous before being released to the public.