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  • ATV Accident Season Has Arrived

    ATVManufacturers design and build all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) for usage in a variety of outdoor terrains. However, these vehicles come with numerous safety risks. The number of fatal ATV accidents peaks dramatically in July, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC).

    Some accidents are due to the recklessness of the driver or misuse of the vehicle. Other accidents are the result of negligence on the part of the premises owner, or in the case of a minor, another adult who allowed a child to use an ATV unsupervised. Equipment manufacturers may also be liable if the brakes, tires, steering, or other parts of the ATV are found to be defective. Individuals who have been injured in an ATV accident can learn more about their legal rights by contacting Galfand Berger LLP.

    How Common are ATV Accidents?

    In 2017, the CPSC reported that there were 93,800 ATV injuries that were treated in emergency rooms nationwide. However, some experts estimate that the number is much higher, as most ATV accidents go unreported. The frequency of ATV accidents will likely continue to climb as the ATV market is projected to grow about five percent year-over-year from now until 2025. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) considers ATV injuries to be a significant public health concern, particularly in rural and agricultural areas.

    What Types of Injuries Result From ATV Accidents?

    The most common types of injuries resulting from ATV accidents are bone fractures, bruises, and head and neck injuries. The most common body areas injured in ATVs accident include:

    • Arms
    • Head or neck
    • Legs
    • Torso

    Many ATV accidents result in debilitating brain and spinal cord injuries. Some of these injuries could have been prevented by wearing helmets. Surprisingly, 19 states in the U.S. have no laws requiring the riders of ATVs to wear helmets.

    Unfortunately, some ATV injuries are fatal. According to the CPSC, there were 15,250 ATV-related fatalities between 1982 and 2017. During those years, 3,315 of those deaths were children younger than 16 years old. Pennsylvania is one of five states that, together, account for more than 25 percent of all ATV fatalities in the United States.

    What Causes ATV Accidents?

    The causes of ATV accidents include but are not limited to the following:

    • Speeding: Although ATVs are designed for off-road used, speeding over uneven ground can cause the vehicle to flip over.
    • Accidents from driving on paved roads: ATVs are not built for smooth pavement. Driving on paved roads can also cause an ATV to flip over.
    • Riding with two passengers: Driving with another person on the back can cause the vehicle to go off balance, throwing the passenger off and causing the vehicle to roll over and pin both the passenger and the driver.
    • Drunk driving: Just like car accidents, many incidents involving ATV injuries involve driving while impaired.
    • Accidents with children: Minors lack the physical strength and cognitive skills needed to concentrate on driving and maneuver a vehicle to avoid risks. More adolescents suffer head injuries due to ATV accidents than drivers of other age groups.

    Additionally, defective parts, including faulty tires, steering, clutch, or the throttle, may also cause ATV accidents.

    Who May be Held Liable for Injuries Caused by ATV Accidents?

    Some ATV accidents happen when an adult driver speeds or does not exercise caution when using the vehicle. However, there are many other cases when a third party may held liable for injuries caused by ATV accidents, including but not limited to the following:

    • Premises owners who allow children to ride their ATVs.
    • ATV manufacturers or dealers who made or sold vehicles or parts that are found to be defective.

    Landowners who maintain ATV trails for public access may also be held liable for injuries caused by ATV accidents if it is found that those trails contain unmarked hazards, such as steep drop-offs, potholes, and blind corners.

    When minors are injured on someone else’s property, the premises owner may be liable for their injuries, especially if the owner directly or implicitly agreed to supervise the minor. Any adult who is supervising a minor owes that child a duty of care. Allowing a child to ride an ATV may be deemed a breach of that duty if the child suffers injury while riding the ATV.

    ATV manufacturers are legally responsible for ensuring that they vehicles are safe for their intended use. Defects may include a failure to warn consumers about the dangers of using the product as well as defects in design or manufacturing of the vehicle.

    How Has Galfand Berger LLP Helped ATV Accident Victims?

    Injuries from ATV accidents often have life-altering consequences, especially when the victims are young. The premises liability lawyers at Galfand Berger LLP have helped ATV accident victims by advocating for their legal rights.

    Premises liability lawsuits can be more complicated than typical auto accident claims. The experienced lawyers at Galfand Berger LLP handle complex cases confidently by pooling their resources to evaluate every detail of the accident to prove liability on the part of all negligent parties. The following two cases illustrate this point:

    • Nine-year-old boy blinded in ATV accident. The ATV owner had signed a written document acknowledging that no one under 16 years old should be permitted to use the vehicle. Despite that fact, the owner bought the child a helmet so he could ride the ATV. The owner then permitted the child to ride the adult-sized ATV. The accident occurred when hunting dogs that belonged to the ATV owner got loose and startled the boy, who then lost control of the vehicle. The ATV flipped over and punctured the boy’s left eye socket, leaving him blind. Rick Jurewicz settled the case for $6 million dollars on behalf of the injured child.
    • 14-year-old boy injured after the ATV rolled over. The ATV’s owner allowed the child to use the ATV, even though the legal age for operating the vehicle is 16 years old. The ATV rolled over while the child was using it, causing serious injuries. Galfand Berger LLP attorneys pursued the case and obtained a $301,000 recovery for the child.

    No two cases are the same, and the amount of settlement depends upon the particular circumstances. However, in each instance, Galfand Berger LLP attorneys are committed to fighting with perseverance on behalf of their clients.

    Should ATV Owners Buy ATV Insurance?

    ATV owners should buy ATV insurance if they want additional financial protection in case of an accident. It may also be a legal requirement in some states depending on where the ATV is used. ATV insurance can help pay for the following if an accident is the fault of the policy owner:

    • Medical bills if someone is injured, which is bodily injury liability.
    • Damage to another person’s property or vehicle, which is property damage liability.

    Other options include the following:

    • Personal injury protection (PIP): This can help pay for medical bills regardless of who is at fault.
    • Collision: Pays for damage to the policy owner’s ATV it runs into another vehicle or object or if the vehicle rolls over.
    • Comprehensive: Covers damage to an ATV from vandalism, theft, or extreme weather events.
    • Uninsured/underinsured: Protects policy owners and their vehicles in the event of a hit-and-run accident or if the driver at fault is underinsured.

    In the state of Pennsylvania, ATV owners are required to carry proof of liability insurance if they drive their vehicle anywhere other than on their own property.

    Philadelphia Premises Liability Lawyers at Galfand Berger LLP Fight Tirelessly for Clients Injured in ATV Accidents

    Riding an ATV should be a fun and exciting experience. Unfortunately, ATV accidents happen with increasing frequency in the summer months. If you or someone you know has been injured or suffered a loss in an ATV accident, reach out to the Philadelphia premises liability lawyers at Galfand Berger LLP. We will listen carefully to the circumstances surrounding your accident and answer any questions you may have about your rights to pursue damages. Call us today at 800-222-USWA (8792) or fill out our online form to arrange a free consultation. We serve injured individuals across Pennsylvania and New Jersey, including Allentown and Harrisburg, from our office locations in Philadelphia, Bethlehem, Lancaster, and Reading, Pennsylvania.