Florida ATV Accident Lawyer
ATVs are all-terrain vehicles that are popular for recreational and hauling purposes. Teenagers and adults often take ATVs into the woods or up mountain paths for the purposes of joyriding or hauling firewood. Unfortunately, many ATV drivers and owners underestimate the potential of the machines to cause injuries and damage. When ATV accidents are caused by the carelessness of a driver or malfunctioning equipment, ATV accident attorneys may be able to help.
Increase in ATV Injuries
ATV use has increased dramatically since the introduction of the vehicles in the 1970s. Unfortunately, with the increase in usage, there has been a major increase in injuries and fatalities. In 2007, there were over 150,000 injuries requiring medical treatment and over 800 deaths according to the consumer Product Safety Commission. While these statistics have decreased slightly since that time, there are still many ATV accidents, injuries, and fatalities every year.
ATV Accident Causes
ATV accidents are often caused by driver inexperience. Since no special training or licensing is required to drive an ATV, many riders are younger and have never had a lesson before attempting to ride an ATV. Inexperienced riders are 13 times more likely to cause an accident during the first month of riding than an experienced rider.
Other causes of ATV accidents include:
- Driver failure to obey local laws
- Driving on a paved surface, as the vehicles are designed for off-road use
- Attempting to perform stunts
- Allowing more riders than the ATV is designed for
- Malfunctioning equipment
- Uneven or damaged paths
- Improper rider positioning on the ATV
Intoxication greatly increases the risk of ATV accidents. Drivers between the ages of 18 and 30 are more likely to be involved in ATV accidents than riders of other age groups, although children and riders over the age of 50 are more likely to be seriously injured when involved in an accident. ATV accidents are also much more likely to occur when a driver’s vision is impaired due to darkness or inclement weather. ATV drivers are about 80 percent more likely to be injured in an ATV accident than passengers.
ATV Accident Injuries
Rollover accidents and ejection accidents are common types of ATV accidents. These accidents may result in serious injuries, especially if riders are not wearing safety equipment. Children are also more susceptible to severe injuries when involved in ATV accidents.
Injuries that may be sustained during an ATV accident include:
- Head injuries
- Spinal trauma
- Neck injuries
- Lacerations of varying severity
- Facial injuries, including eye injuries
- Broken bones
ATV Accident Liability
It may be difficult to determine who is liable for an ATV accident, so it is best to consult an ATV accident attorney as soon as possible. If the ATV accident was caused by design flaws or malfunctioning parts or equipment, the company that manufactures or sells the ATVs or specific parts may be liable. If the ATV accident happened as a result of damage to a trail that was believed to be safe, the property owner may be liable for damages. If a rider was injured while driving an ATV that was improperly maintained, the owner or rental agency that supplied the ATV may be liable. Reckless ATV drivers may be liable for injuries to passengers caused by negligent actions.
ATV Accident Prevention
Accident prevention is the responsibility of all ATV drivers, riders, and owners. Many ATV accidents may be prevented by properly maintaining ATVs, training riders before allowing solo use, and wearing proper safety equipment. ATVs should always be operated with regard to local laws and vehicle usage instructions.
All 50 states have legislation in place regarding ATV use, although laws may vary. Most states specify rider age based on the ATV engine size. Most states also require ATV drivers and passengers to wear a helmet. While these laws would prevent many ATV accidents, it is difficult to enforce ATV laws because ATVs are often operated on private property.
“A Pilot Study of Fatal ATV-Related Incidents Involving Passengers.” Consumer Product Safety Commission. Consumer Product Safety Commission, 1 Aug. 2014. Web. 23 Oct. 2014. <http://www.cpsc.gov//Global/Research-and-Statistics/Injury-Statistics/Sports-and-Recreation/ATVs/ATVPassengerPilotStudyReport.pdf>
“ATV-Related Deaths and Injuries for All Ages 1985-2011.” ATVSafety.gov. ATVSafety.gov, 1 Jan. 2011. Web. 23 Oct. 2014. <http://www.atvsafety.gov/stats.html>
Stanton, Terry. “ATVs: Injuries Are Part of the Terrain.” American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, 1 Apr. 2011. Web. 23 Oct. 2014. <http://www.aaos.org/news/aaosnow/apr11/clinical2.asp>