ATVs (all-terrain vehicles) are used across the country for work, as well as for recreation. While ATVs are not street legal in the U.S., farmers and ranchers often use the three or four-tire ATV vehicles to keep track of livestock, to check fences, to haul supplies and more. ATVs are also used for recreation by hundreds of thousands of people across the United States. All-terrain vehicles are not actually made for every single type of terrain, and, unfortunately, many people climb on to an ATV without a good understanding of how the machine works, how to drive it correctly, and what to do in the event of an emergency.
At lower speeds, ATV’s tend to be safer than motorcycles because of the stability provided by the additional wheels, however due to the terrain ATVs are typically ridden on, they can be just as dangerous as a motorcycle, particularly in the event of a rollover. Unlike an automobile rollover, ATVs do not have a roof to protect the driver (although some ATVs are manufactured with a roll cage). The majority of injuries to ATV riders could be avoided because they are the result of:
- No helmet use;
- Poor judgment;
- Performing dangerous maneuvers;
- Lack of knowledge about how an ATV works;
- Driver inexperience;
- Unsafe speeds;
- Operating an ATV while under the influence of drugs or alcohol;
- Too large a vehicle for the age of the driver, and
- Riding with a passenger on a single-use vehicle.
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission estimates that as many as 150,000 people were treated in ERs for ATV-related injuries in 2007. Reported ATV deaths reached 750 in 2006. Also, according to the CPSC, a third of all ATV-related fatalities are riders under the age of 16, and male ATV riders comprise 77 percent of ATV injuries.
Injuries from ATV Accidents
ATV accidents can be extremely serious, resulting in:
- Traumatic brain injuries;
- Spinal cord injuries;
- Internal injuries;
- Chest and abdominal injuries, and
- Injuries to the neck and extremities.
ATV riders rarely wear helmets, meaning when an accident occurs, the subsequent head injuries can be particularly severe. Traumatic brain injuries and spinal cord injuries can require lengthy rehabilitation and possibly multiple surgical procedures as well as the “normal” medical expenses. In many cases, a person who receives a brain injury from an ATV accident may not appear to be injured, and may even state he or she is “fine.” Unfortunately, head injuries, whether a minor concussion or a more severe brain trauma, can change a person’s life, sometimes permanently.
Children and ATV Accidents
Children often lack the skills, the cognitive abilities and the physical strength to operate an ATV properly. According to one report, during the first month of operating an ATV, an inexperienced rider is 13 times more likely to have an accident than a more experienced rider. It is the responsibility of parents to ensure their children receive proper instruction for riding an ATV, and are properly supervised until the parents are confident in the child’s ability. More than one study has found that adolescent and teenage ATV riders are likely to have much more severe injuries and more head injuries than any other group.
The Costs for Medical Treatments Related to ATV Injuries
Because of the severity of the injuries related to ATV accident, medical treatments can be extensive—and expensive. A study published in Neurosurgery, estimated the national costs of ATV-associated injuries in the United States are $3.24 billion per year.
2.4 Million Defective Three-Wheelers Still Being Used
Because of the number of rollover accidents and injuries on three-wheel ATVs, the U.S. Justice Department filed a lawsuit which alleged ATVs and their manufacturers violated the Consumer Product Safety Act. Because of this, ATV manufacturers stopped making three-wheeler ATVs in 1987, and switched to four-wheelers. ATV manufacturers who are aware of a hazard, yet do not warn the public are guilty of “failure to warn.” Design defects in a specific ATV model can make the vehicle more dangerous than usual. Defective parts can also render an ATV hazardous to riders. Defective parts could range from the tires, to the gas tank to the brakes. If an ATV accident is caused by a defective part, the injured person may be able to file a product liability claim. Every year, there are ATVs recalled in the U.S., including the following:
- About 30,000 Razor Dirt Quads;
- Some Kawasaki Brute Force 750 4 x 4i models for loss of steering control;
- Some Arctic Cat Prowler XT for potential brake failure;
- Bombardier Recreational Products 2004 and 2005 for rear axle bearings, and
- Polaris Sportsman 700EFI for fuel line problems.
Safety Tips for ATV Riders
If you and other family members ride ATVs, you can make those rides much safer by ensuring everyone who rides an ATV follows specific safety rules such as:
- Most all ATVs are designed for one rider only—make sure ATV drivers do not carry passengers.
- Wear a helmet, appropriate shoes and long-sleeved shirts and pants when driving an ATV.
- Make sure everyone who will drive an ATV knows how to drive and has enough experience driving the vehicle.
- Never ride an ATV on a paved road meant for regular traffic.
- Young children should never be allowed to drive an ATV.
- ATV drivers should never ride while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
How an Experienced Mississippi ATV Accident Attorney Can Help
If you have been injured in an ATV accident, or a loved one has been injured or killed in an ATV accident, it is important that you speak to a knowledgeable ATV accident attorney as soon as possible. Stroud, Flechas & Dalton has helped many people who have been injured in an ATV accident, and has a solid understanding of the specific issues related to ATV accidents and injuries. Stroud, Flechas & Dalton represents Mississippi and Memphis residents after an ATV accident and will be the advocate you deserve, fighting aggressively for compensation to cover your lost wages, medical expenses and pain and suffering. Call Stroud, Flechas & Dalton today at (662) 536-5656, or fill out the contact form on the right.