Missouri ATV Accidents and Rollovers
Many Missourians own all-terrain vehicles (ATV’s), both for practical purposes and for recreation. Unfortunately, these sources of fun and utility can also be deadly. An ATV of unstable design is at risk for a rollover accident, and an ATV owner who lets an inexperienced rider, especially a child, who is not equipped to handle an ATV’s powerful engine, may be liable if an accident occurs.
All-terrain vehicles come in many shapes and sizes: three wheeler’s, four wheeler’s, six wheeler’s, work ATV’s, utility ATV’s, 4-wheel drive utility ATV’s, golf cars, sport ATV’s, side by sides, sand rail, dune buggy, and many other varieties. No matter the terminology, the dangers are extremely real.
ATV Safety Defects and ATV Recalls
Individuals are often unaware of the defects in the ATV’s they purchase. It is all too often the case that the off road vehicle appears to work normally, only to discover the defective product’s problem while in use. ATV’s are the most dangerous when they are subject to rollovers. Some common ATV recalls and defects are as follows:
The three recalled ATV’s above are by no means a comprehensive list of recalled ATV’s. The US Consumer Product Safety Commission has listed a comprehensive list of hundreds of ATV recalls for the public benefit. This list is regularly updated. The cause for the recalls range from crash hazard, fire hazard, loss of steering control, loss of speed control, brake failure, and numerous other defects.
All-Terrain Vehicle Accident Statistics
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) tracks ATV-related injuries and deaths as part of its statutory mandate to monitor consumer products. In a recent 10 year period, 7,868 people died in the United States from the use of ATV’s. This staggering number is topped by the more than 1,500,000 individuals treated in the emergency room for ATV related injuries.
According to a University of Iowa study, “All-Terrain Vehicle (ATV) Related Injuries: Mechanisms and Contributing Factors,” ATV accidents stem from several causes:
- In the study, rollovers accounted for 42 percent of the crashes that resulted in injuries.
- Thirty-five percent of riders over the age of 15 who were tested for the presence of alcohol after a crash tested positive.
- Among riders over the age of 15 who were tested for the presence of drugs after a crash, 25 percent tested positive.
- All of the children who were injured were driving adult-sized ATVs.
Because so many ATVs have a high center of gravity and because these vehicles are often operated on uneven terrain, they are subject to rollover crashes. ATVs are also being equipped with more powerful engines that can make the vehicles difficult for some riders, particularly children, to control. Individuals simply jump on these machines and treat them as if they were a full sized truck, resulting in countless injuries.
Rider suitability was an issue in the case of Hennarichs v. Fina. After 13-year-old Sara Hennarichs lost control of a four-wheel ATV and died, her parents filed suit against the ATV’s owners, Roger and Karen Fina. Despite manufacturer warnings that the ATV was not for use by children under the age of 16, the couple purchased one for their son, who was 11 or 12 at the time, and he allowed Sara Hennarichs to drive it. The lawsuit alleged that the couple had negligently entrusted the ATV to their son, negligently trained him and negligently supervised him. A Florida jury returned a $4.5 million verdict and concluded that the members of the Fina family held a combined 80 percent responsibility for the accident. In 2009 the Florida Court of Appeals affirmed the decision.
United States ATV Laws
According to the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons article: ATV’s: Injuries are part of the terrain, men between the ages of 18-30 are most at risk for ATV injuries. It is also reported these injuries most often occur in rural areas. In addition, while just 15% of ATV riders are children, they make up 27% of ATV injuries, and 28% of ATV deaths.
As a result of these staggering numbers, states have enacted specific legislation for ATV’s. While these laws vary greatly, 28 states have minimum rider age laws and 31 states require a helmet. The ATV legislation has not helped decrease all-terrian vehicle related deaths so far. As more and more ATV’s are sold, more and more injuries result.
Missouri Law requires generally that:
- No person shall operate an ATV in a careless way that could endanger the person or property of another, under the influence of alcohol or controlled substance, or with a passenger.
- All riders under 18 wear a helmet at all times.
- All ATV’s must be titled and registered.
- No one under the age of 16 may register at ATV
- No ATV’s on highway, unless for agricultural purposes or for official state use.
- No one under the age of 16 may operate an ATV unless on a parents land or accompanied by a parent.
Injured in an ATV Accident?
If you have been hurt or someone you love has been hurt or killed in an all-terrain vehicle accident in Missouri, you have rights. If your ATV accident and injuries resulted from a defective ATV, you will likely need to pursue a products liability case. If you were thrown from a ATV while another person was driving, your case will fall under the tort theory of negligence. Regardless of the legal theory of recovery, you have a limited time to file your ATV claim for damages.
Contact the ATV injury lawyers at The Dixon Injury Firm immediately to discuss your case. Founder Christopher Dixon has been recognized as a Top 100 Trial Lawyer and has successfully helped injury victims recovery millions of dollars for their injuries. Call today to for a FREE ATV case consultation: 314-409-7060, or 855-40-CRASH (toll-free).