ATVs, UTVs, and other off-highway vehicles (OHVs) are popular for outdoor activities, getting around at events, and leisure riding. Some people consider them exceptionally safe due to their lower speeds.
While they often cruise at 35MPH or lower, some ATVs can go 55MPH or more (depending on engine size and other factors). At the same time, safety features found in cars, like seatbelts and airbags, are not present in ATVs, increasing the risk of injury in an accident.
How Can an ATV Accident Attorney Help You?
In the blink of an eye, an ATV accident can occur, leaving you disoriented, hurt, and unsure of what transpired or who should be held accountable. While some people assume these incidents are due to inevitable risks that accompany off-roading, others wonder if their accident was preventable.
The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) reports that the five-year period from 2016 to 2020 saw 526,900 emergency room visits associated with OHV accidents. About 43 percent of these occurred in young people between the ages of 16 and 34.
Fractures and contusions were the most common injuries, frequently affecting the head, neck, torso, arm, or leg. The report also notes that there were 2,211 deaths in OHV accidents between 2016 and 2018, most of which involved ATVs.
These questions are especially troubling if you have expensive medical bills and are missing time at work while you recover.
In the aftermath of an ATV accident, entrusting your case to an experienced ATV accident attorney becomes essential. We will assess your situation and delve deeper into your accident to gather critical evidence and unravel the sequence of events.
If we find evidence that another party’s negligence was at the root of the accident, we can seek compensation from the responsible party on your behalf.
What Causes ATV Accidents and Who Is At Fault?
There are many possible causes of an ATV accident and more potentially liable parties than you might imagine. Here are some common reasons that ATV accidents occur:
- Driving an ATV on the pavement. It’s called “off-roading” for a reason – ATVs and their tires are designed for unpaved ground, not a paved street. It’s okay to occasionally cross a paved road on your way to another area, but you should never drive an ATV on pavement for an extended period of time.
- Riding double on an ATV that was meant for one person. If you want to carry a passenger, be sure to buy or rent a model that’s built for passengers. Carrying two people on a single-rider model increases the risk of injuries.
- Riding the wrong size of ATV. It’s a good idea to try different ATVs and find one that works well with your own size. A machine that’s too big can be more challenging to operate and increase your risk of an accident.
- Operator inexperience. ATVs may look simple to operate, especially if you already know how to drive a car, but they can be tricky to use in some circumstances. Some people handle them fine initially but experience difficulty when they hit a new type of terrain or bad weather. If you want to ride, first take an ATV or off-roading safety course where you can get hands-on instruction from a qualified teacher.
- Children riding ATVs, especially unsupervised. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that kids younger than 16 should not drive ATVs, although many parents allow younger teens to ride. Children younger than 12 should never ride an ATV because of the high risk of injury in a rollover or collision, while older children should only ride with adult supervision.
- Driving in new or different terrain. Some people are used to riding an ATV in familiar surroundings. If you live in Arizona, you might be used to desert riding; if you live in Illinois, you might be used to riding in rural forests or farmland. When riders travel to a new area or on significantly different terrain, they may react in a way that’s appropriate for another area but not the current one. If you go somewhere new and want to ride, make a note of the new terrain and go slowly until you’re used to it.
- Ignoring state and local laws about ATVs. These can vary depending on where you are. Some areas allow ATVs to cross a street in specific ways, such as only at intersections, while others require all riders to pass a safety course or meet other requirements. Be sure to check the laws for your state and municipality before riding.
- Reckless or careless driving. Speeding, failing to use care when encountering new or different terrain, attempting dangerous stunts – all of these actions can increase your risk of an accident. Slow down and drive carefully to reduce your risk.
But Who Is Liable for an ATV Accident and Your Damages?
Determining fault in an ATV accident can be problematic, especially if you only have one perspective on what happened. Some people erroneously believe they were at fault when they weren’t.
Others think the responsibility lies with another party who isn’t to blame. Aside from not knowing all the details, other considerations make the problem more challenging:
- Local laws. Depending on where the accident occurred, it may or may not be possible for more than one party to be at fault. In some states, the fault lies with the most responsible party, but in others, you can only seek compensation if another party is 100 percent at fault. An ATV accident lawyer can explain the local laws regarding personal injury claims and how they might affect your case.
- Confusion about events. As noted earlier, head injuries are common in ATV accidents. Sometimes, the injured rider simply doesn’t remember the events of the accident. Many of these crashes are single-vehicle events, so if there are no other witnesses, it can be hard to piece together what happened. Worse, some injured people assume that if they were alone when the accident happened, it must have been their fault – but this isn’t necessarily true.
- The insurance company’s opinion about responsibility. Insurance companies frequently deny claims for a wide variety of reasons. Sometimes, these reasons are valid and legally sound, but in many cases, they aren’t, and the insurance adjuster hopes the claimant doesn’t know better. If an insurance company has denied your claim because you were at fault or for any other reason, please contact an ATV accident lawyer for a second opinion. In some cases, we can refute the insurance company’s claims and secure compensation after all.
If you have questions or concerns about fault in your ATV accident – even if you think you might be to blame – we encourage you to speak with a lawyer before you make any assumptions.
Here are some potentially liable parties in an ATV accident:
The ATV’s Owner
There are several scenarios where the owner may be liable. If they loaned their ATV to someone they knew shouldn’t be driving it – due to inexperience, intoxication, or other reasons – the owner could be liable.
Alternatively, the owner may also be the driver, and they may have driven in a negligent or careless manner that injured a passenger, pedestrian, or rider on a different ATV.
In some situations, the ATV’s owner is a business that rents out the vehicles, such as a park, tourist attraction, or other venue.
If you were injured while riding on a rented ATV, you might be concerned that you have no recourse because you signed a waiver, but this isn’t always true. A waiver is meant to warn the rider that the business isn’t responsible if they drive recklessly and have an accident.
But the business is still responsible if they acted negligently, regardless of the waiver, and they still have a duty of care to rent you a reasonably safe vehicle. If your accident occurred because the ATV was poorly maintained and malfunctioned in some way, causing you to crash, the business could still be liable.
Additionally, they could also be liable if you were riding on the company’s property and you were injured due to a hazard they failed to address. Your lawyer can help you determine if these situations apply to your case.
The Property Owner
Even if you own your ATV, you can still be injured when riding on another party’s property – either a business or private residence. The fact that you were on the property when the crash happened doesn’t automatically mean the property owner is liable, but you shouldn’t rule it out until you speak with a lawyer.
If your crash was caused by a significant hazard that the owner knew of and didn’t fix or warn you about, it’s possible they are at fault. For example, if you were riding on your friend’s property and crashed because of a large, unexpected hole in the ground, we will investigate to find out if the owner knew about the hole.
If so, they likely had a responsibility to warn you when they invited you over to ride ATVs.
A Car or Motor Vehicle Driver
In most localities, ATVs are prohibited from riding on highways except in limited circumstances, such as crossing a road. If you were crossing a street legally, and a car hit you, the driver may be at fault.
There are also some cases where a car veers off the road and strikes a rider nearby or hits someone on private property, although these are less common.
In these situations, many people make a claim on the car driver’s auto insurance, only to find out the car driver thinks they were at fault, or the insurance company does. Sometimes, there are no witnesses, and the injured rider doesn’t know how to prove the car driver was responsible.
If you’ve been struck by a car while riding an ATV, don’t wait to find out if the driver’s insurance company is going to pay your claim – contact an ATV accident lawyer right away. We’ll go to work gathering evidence and building a solid case to show they were to blame.
Additionally, we’ll carefully calculate your damages to be sure nothing is missed. Insurance companies are also known for undervaluing claims, and many people who do receive an offer realize too late that it didn’t cover all their expenses.
A Manufacturer or Service Worker
Sometimes, ATV accidents happen due to a design or manufacturing defect that makes the ATV unsafe. The rider has no way of knowing this when they get on the bike, but they unexpectedly suffer an injury despite driving safely and experiencing no external hazards.
Or, a defective component on the vehicle – which may or may not have been replaced at some point – causes the crash. A defect in your helmet or safety goggles could also make your injuries worse, no matter who is responsible for the accident.
Finally, a service worker who repaired the ATV but made an error that led to your accident could be another responsible party.
Your lawyer will examine all the possible causes of your injuries to determine if a third party, like a manufacturer or repair company, might be liable. If so, we can seek compensation under local product liability laws.
What About ATV Insurance?
Depending on the type of insurance you have and the extent of your damages, your own ATV insurance may pay for some or all of your damages. Some policies only cover your liability to others, while some will cover your medical bills regardless of who is at fault.
However, in cases where the person suffers severe injuries, their damages may exceed the insurance policy’s limit. If that happens, we will consider other possibilities for recovering the rest of your damages.
Get Help From an ATV Accident Law Firm Today
If you or a loved one have been injured in an ATV accident, please contact The Fakhouri Firm Accident and Injury Lawyers for a free consultation. We’ll review your accident records, investigate further if needed, help you identify any liable parties or relevant insurance policies, and explain your options.
There is no obligation, but if we do take your case, we will negotiate with the insurance company and other parties to ensure you receive a fair settlement. Call us today at (312) 999-9990.
Founder and lead attorney Robert S. Fakhouri graduated from the Chicago-Kent College of Law and gained experience as a legal clerk and litigation associate. Since founding The Fakhouri Firm, he has worked tirelessly to help injured people seek the compensation they need to move forward with their lives.
When he isn’t negotiating with insurance companies or meeting with clients, he provides no-nonsense legal advice to his many followers on social media.