ATVs, including four-wheelers and utility vehicles, can make living in the country fun. Some people use them purely for sport, while others keep their farms running smoothly or travel across their properties for some peace and quiet. However, ATVs can present a very real safety threat to drivers and passengers who aren’t paying attention. If you are a victim of injury, you can get help from a Dallas ATV accident lawyer.
ATV rollovers, high speed crashes, and getting thrown from the vehicle can cause serious (even catastrophic) injury. People injured in accidents caused by recklessness may face months of rehabilitation, permanent disability, or death. The costs can add up quickly, and while you may not relish the idea of filing a lawsuit, it may provide the only reasonable source of compensation for your recovery.
Failing to wear helmets, hitting and damaging property, jumping hills, failing to maintain the equipment, and traveling at unsafe speeds can all amount to an accident in the blink of an eye. ATVs are fun, but they’re not toys. They’re powerful machines that can take a life as easily as any tractor or vehicle on the roadways. In the hands of an unskilled operator, they can be even more dangerous.
ATV accidents involve all-terrain vehicles. All-terrain vehicles include three-wheelers, four-wheelers, quadricycles, dirt bikes, dual-sport motorcycles and dune buggies. Any off-highway vehicle designed to travel on low-pressure tires, with a seat for use by the operator and handlebars, constitutes an ATV. A collision with one ATV, multiple ATVs, or an ATV and a regular motor vehicle is an ATV accident.
Consumers should not operate ATVs on paved roads. Their off-highway vehicle design makes them dangerous on asphalt. Most ATV accidents do not involve other motor vehicles. They typically consist of just one ATV rider crashing his or her vehicle due to dangerous conditions or a product defect, or two or more ATV users colliding with one another. Single-vehicle ATV accidents may still give the victim the right to file a claim.
ATV accidents happen more often than most consumers realize. The Consumer Product Safety Commission reports an average of 100,000 injuries and 650 deaths related to ATV accidents per year. Texas is the top state for ATV fatalities over the last 30 years. With a large population and thousands of ATV users, Texas often has the highest number of ATV accidents, injuries and deaths in the country annually.
ATVs are dangerous by design. They provide no protection for the rider or passengers in an accident. They are also prone to rollovers – especially when driven on paved roads or steep hills. They are also dangerous due to their reputation. Many people, including parents, underestimate the risks of ATVs. They may view them the same as bicycles when in reality an ATV is much more dangerous. While they are popular recreational vehicles, they demand the same caution as other motor vehicles. Speeding, jumping obstacles, driving up ramps, reckless operation and letting a child drive an ATV could all lead to serious accidents.
One of the most common reasons for ATV accidents is product defects. ATV manufacturers recall these vehicles frequently for defects in the product’s design and/or manufacture. Defects can make an ATV even more susceptible to rollovers or accidents by causing issues such as wheel detachments, gas leaks and brake failures. Frequent vehicle defects make it even more important for consumers to use caution on ATVs.
In an ATV accident case, every aspect of the accident needs to be carefully evaluated. A driver’s careless behavior could have caused the accident, but a machine defect may also have played a role. If an investigation uncovers an equipment defect, the injured party may hold the manufacturer liable for the injury. In some cases, neither the operator nor the manufacturer is liable. The owner of an ATV is also responsible for maintaining the equipment at a reasonable standard of safety. If you rent an ATV and have an accident because of poor maintenance, you may hold the owner liable for any injuries.
Understanding how ATVs operate and safe ways to use them is the key to avoiding dangerous accidents. You should never hop on an unfamiliar vehicle and take off. Take the time to get a feel for the vehicle and how it handles. Make sure you understand gear shifting, breaking, and the way the vehicle turns. Some ATVs require operators to completely stop the vehicle before shifting gears. Having that information can make a difference in safe operation.
Never allow children who don’t meet the recommended requirements to ride or drive an ATV unsupervised. While there aren’t hard rules on who can operate an ATV on private property, some vehicles are too large for small children to safely operate.
Always wear a helmet, and require all passengers to also wear helmets. Traumatic brain injuries can alter a life permanently, and a helmet significantly reduces the risk. Use common sense. If a rental company doesn’t offer a strong program for ensuring riders have the knowledge and skills needed to make good decisions, it may not maintain its equipment properly. Don’t ride on an unfamiliar ATV unless you feel comfortable with its operation, maintenance history, and the lay of the land.
Insurance coverage for an ATV accident will depend on the policy purchased and the specifics of the case. Most auto insurance policies do not cover ATVs. The provider of your vehicle insurance will generally not accept a claim for injuries or property damages after an ATV accident. You may seek recovery through your homeowners insurance policy instead. An ATV is technically property, making it a coverable asset under most homeowners insurance plans.
Your homeowners insurance company might owe you compensation for an ATV accident if the crash occurred on your property. Most insurers require ATV accidents to have happened on the insured premises – the land specified in your title or deed – for coverage. If the accident did not happen in your yard or driveway, however, your insurer may still offer some liability coverage. If the accident occurred due to a property defect, such as a large hole in your lawn, your insurer may have grounds to deny your claim. The attorneys at The Law Firm of Aaron A. Herbert can help you understand the specific terms and exceptions of your homeowners insurance policy.
If you or a loved one has suffered a serious injury because of negligent ATV behaviors, you have the right to hold that individual responsible through a civil action. Filing a claim may help you pay off the costs of treatment and other medical costs, reimburse you for lost wages, and cover the financial equivalent of your pain and suffering.
Failing to pay close attention to the task at hand and using poor judgment is no excuse for causing an accident. Contact our team in Dallas for a free case evaluation. We have the experience and expertise to help you move on after a tragic ATV accident.