ATV Accident Lawyers
More and more these days Americans are looking to outdoor recreational activities for fun and entertainment. One of the industries benefitting from this trend is the growing All-Terrain Vehicle industry. Better known as “ATVs,” these vehicles let the rider traverse hilly ranges, cross wet swamplands, and zig-zag through heavily forested areas at high rates of speed. However much fun that experience may be, these vehicles can be as dangerous as they are exhilarating. When riding an ATV, the body of the driver and any passenger is completely exposed. If they are involved in an accident, the injuries suffered can be devastating. If you or a loved one has suffered an injury as a result of an ATV crash, the attorneys at Kraemer, Manes and Associates are here to help. We have the experience and the legal expertise to guide you through any personal injury claim that you might have resulting from an ATV accident. Call us anytime for a free consultation on your case.
What is an ATV?
ATV stands for all-terrain vehicle, but such vehicles are also know by a variety of names such as “quad,” “three-wheeler,” or “four-wheeler.” They are three or four wheeled motorcycle-like vehicles designed to operate on a wide variety of terrain and are mainly used for off-road traversing. ATVs typically are meant to have only one driver/rider and they operate on gas engines. They first gained popularity in the 1970’s, but now they are used widely throughout the U.S. as recreational vehicles. Entire parks and trails all across the country are dedicated to ATV use. What makes them dangerous is that the driver is entirely exposed if a collision or crash results. Adding on to the threat is the fact that the vehicles themselves tend to weigh from 500-1000 pounds and they can travel at speeds of up to 75 miles per hour. This makes ATV accidents every bit as dangerous, if not more dangerous, than your average vehicle accident.
ATV crash statistics
The rate of crashes for ATVs is staggering and is on the rise. According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, in 1998 there were 67,800 emergency-room treated injuries from ATV accidents in the U.S. In that same year, 252 people were confirmed to have died in an ATV crash. In 2010, there were 115,000 emergency-room treated accidents and 590 deaths related to ATV crashes. This represents a doubling of the tragic damage done in ATV accidents in a span of just twelve years. However, the most troubling statistic is the one involving injuries and deaths to children under 16 in ATV accidents. In 2010, there were 28,300 emergency-room treated injuries to children under 16 in ATV accidents. This number represents 27% of the injuries estimated for all ages. Tragically, 82 children under 16 died in ATV accidents in 2010. These numbers tell the story of how dangerous and risky ATV use can be.
Inherent dangers of ATVs
The inherent dangers of ATVs include the fact that drivers are exposed while riding on the vehicles and that they are mainly used for off-roading. Like on a motorcycle, a rider on an ATV is at great risk of injury if there is an accident. A rider may be tossed from the vehicle at high speeds, may directly collide with a tree or other obstacle, or may even be flipped over and end up with a 1000 pound vehicle pinning her to the ground. Combined with high speeds, any ATV accident can lead to catastrophic bodily injuries. Additionally, ATVs are almost exclusively ridden on rough terrain, hills, and through forests or wetlands. Throughout the U.S., it is illegal for an ATV to be driven on public roads. Because ATVs are used mainly for off-roading, the terrain almost assuredly has unexpected changes in it. A tree may have fallen over a trail or the surface may be soft and wet when it appears to be dry and solid. This uncertainty in the terrain equals a higher risk of crashing on an ATV as a driver will be unable to anticipate what it is going to happen next.
Types of ATV crashes
There are two main types of ATV crashes that can lead to serious injury: collisions and rollovers. An ATV collision can occur with either a stationary object or another vehicle. ATVs are mostly used in heavily wooded areas, so collisions with trees are very common. Also, ATV drivers often ride on trails and tracks where other ATV drivers are also riding. This can lead to collisions with other ATVs. When it comes to rollovers, ATVs are at a very high risk of this type of accident. Many ATVs have high ground clearances and high centers of gravity. This is a deadly cocktail that can lead to rollovers whenever the brakes are applied suddenly or the ATV takes a sharp turn. ATVs also can flip if the driver accelerates too quickly, or is in the wrong gear.
Causes of ATV crashes
There are a variety of reasons someone may be involved in an ATV crash. Below are some common factors that contribute to such accidents:
- Inexperienced drivers
- Child operators
- Riding a single person ATV with two or more people
- Reckless driving
- Driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol
- Lack of proper gear such as goggles or a helmet
- Riding at night
- Unfamiliarity with the terrain
- Dangerous/hazardous trails
- Defective/unsafe vehicles
ATVs and children
It is far too common in the US to have children under the age of 16 riding or driving ATVs. Although a majority of states do not require licensing or training to operate an ATV, most do have a ban disallowing children under 16 from riding ATVs. However, this ban is too often ignored and rarely enforced. As you can see from the statistics quoted above, children are at great risk of injury when driving ATVs. If you know of a child who has been injured in an ATV accident, they should seek qualified legal representation to ensure their rights are protected and preserved.
Negligence and defects
If you or someone you know has been injured in an ATV accident, there are three main legal theories that the attorneys at Kraemer, Manes and Associates will use to get you compensation for your suffering. The most common legal theory used in ATV accidents is negligence. This is usually used when your injury occurred in a collision with another ATV vehicle. Your attorney will need to show that the vehicle operator had a duty to act in a safe manner and that he breached that duty and did something dangerous. If that operator’s dangerous behavior caused your injuries, your attorney will be able to hold the other driver responsible. For example, if another ATV driver was driving at a high rate of speed and was looking back over his shoulder when he collided with your vehicle, he would be considered negligent.
Another way your attorney will help you get compensation for your injuries is by showing a defect in the ATV itself. If there was something wrong with the design of the ATV or the assembly of the vehicle and that defect caused your injury, you will be able to recover from the designers and manufacturers of the vehicle. For example, if your ATV crashed into a tree because the brakes lacked an anti skid system that was supposed to be installed, you could hold the manufacturer responsible for your injuries because it did not properly install the system.
The final way your attorney will help you get compensation for your injuries does not involve the ATV or the ATV operator. This method focuses on the location of the injury and whether that area was safe for ATV use and operation. Property owners, under certain circumstances, can be held liable for dangerous conditions of their land if the condition of the land causes the injury. This is especially true if property owners charge a fee to operator ATVs on the land, or have improved the land somehow to designate an ATV trail or course.
Although these are the most common legal theories used to get a recovery, there are other theories that may come into play, such as negligent supervision and negligent entrustment, particularly if a minor child was driving the ATV. The injury attorneys at Kraemer, Manes and Associates will be able to evaluate your case and ensure that you use the best legal theory available when seeking compensation for your injuries.
What can be done to prevent ATV accidents?
There are many precautionary measures that riders can take to make riding an ATV safer. For example:
- Take an ATV driver safety course
- Always wear the proper protective gear
- Never ride with more than one person on a single person ATV
- Do not ride on paved roads (this can increase the risk of rollover)
- Never allow children under 16 to ride
- Do not drive while under the influence of drugs or alcohol
- Never ride in an unfamiliar area
- Never ride at night
- Never ride in excess of the speed at which you can safely control the ATV in the event of an unexpected hazard
How Kraemer, Manes and Associates can help you
ATV accidents often lead to serious injuries and with those injuries come enormous medical costs. If you or someone you know has been injured in an ATV accident, you will need the best representation you can get to ensure you receive the proper compensation. Money alone may not be able to make up for the physical wounds that you have suffered, but it can help the ease pain. We have a team of legal professionals who are ready to fight for you in your ATV injury case. We bring a higher level of skill, experience, and dedication to your case and we will see it through to the end to make sure you get what you deserve. Please contact us by phone or email for a free consultation.
Kraemer, Manes & Associates LLC “KM&A” is a law firm serving all of Pennsylvania with our principal offices in Pittsburgh and Philadelphia. Call KM&A in western Pennsylvania at 412-626-5626 or in eastern Pennsylvania at 215-618-9185. KM&A can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.