The Dangers of ATV Accidents & Your Legal Rights

Written by Atlee Hall

ATVs, or all-terrain vehicles, are commonly used throughout Pennsylvania as recreational vehicles and for work on farms and rural locations. It’s been reported that there are approximately 7,000,000 quads or 4-wheelers in circulation in the United States.

With the prevalence of ATVs as work equipment and as recreation vehicles, people should be aware of the risks and their legal rights if a tragic incident occurs.

ATV Riding: Fun & Functional

ATVs provide a fun and exciting way to experience the great outdoors, such as hunting, fishing, and exploring the land. ATVs are also versatile tools for farmers and those working outdoors that can save time and increase efficiency.

Here are some reasons why someone might use an ATV as part of their job:

  • Transportation: ATVs are useful for traveling around rural areas quickly and efficiently. Farmers can use ATVs to transport tools, equipment, and supplies from one part of the farm to another.
  • Crop management: ATVs are also useful for managing crops. Farmers can use ATVs to spray crops with pesticides or herbicides and inspect crops for damage or disease.
  • Livestock management: Farmers can use ATVs to check on livestock in remote areas of the farm, such as grazing pastures. ATVs can also be used to transport feed and water to animals.
  • Maintenance: ATVs can also help maintain trails and other outdoor features. Workers can use them to mow fields, clear brush, and repair fences.

As you can see, ATVs can be both fun and valuable. However, they also risk significant and catastrophic injury or death to the operator or passenger. Farmers, workers, and enthusiasts must operate them safely and follow all recommended safety guidelines to prevent accidents and injuries.

ATV Safety Risks & Common Injuries

The Consumer Product Safety Commission has estimated that approximately 700 deaths and 100,000 injuries occur annually in the United States from using all-terrain vehicles. The most common causes of accidents are operator error, design defect, and manufacturer failure to warn of potential safety hazards in the operation of these vehicles.

While ATV accidents can be caused by a variety of factors, some of the most common contributors:

  • Operator error: ATV operators who are inexperienced or do not follow safety guidelines may cause accidents. Examples of operator error include driving too fast, not wearing a helmet, and carrying too many passengers.
  • Poor vehicle maintenance: ATVs that are not adequately maintained can be dangerous. Faulty brakes, worn tires, and other mechanical issues can cause accidents.
  • Dangerous terrain: Riding on rough, uneven terrain can increase the risk of accidents. Steep hills, deep mud, and rocky terrain can all cause riders to lose control of their vehicle.

Injuries from ATV accidents can range from minor cuts and bruises to more severe injuries such as broken bones, burns, serious lacerations, head trauma, spinal cord injuries, and paralysis. Some ATV accidents can even be fatal, like the recent tragedy in North Londonderry Township.

Legal Rights for ATV Injury Victims 

If you or a loved one has been injured in an ATV accident, it is vital to understand your legal rights. Often, an injury victim may be entitled to compensation for their medical expenses, lost wages, and other damages.

To pursue a personal injury claim after an ATV accident, the victim must be able to prove that the negligence of another party caused their injuries. This may include the operator of the ATV, the manufacturer of the vehicle, or even the owner of the property where the accident occurred.

To prove negligence, the victim must demonstrate that the defendant had a duty of care to the victim, that they breached that duty of care, and that the breach of duty caused the victim’s injuries.

Sharing Fault for an ATV Accident

In some cases, the victim may be able to recover damages even if they were partially responsible for the accident. This is known as comparative negligence. For example, an ATV accident may have been caused by another operator’s reckless operation, but you contributed to the collision by going too fast.

Under comparative negligence laws, the victim’s damages will be reduced by the percentage of their own fault in the accident. If you are deemed 25% at fault and suffer $100,000 in damages, you would be entitled to $75,000.

Keep in mind Pennsylvania is a modified comparative negligence state. That means you can still pursue damages if you’re not more at fault than the other parties. If you are found to be 51% responsible for an ATV accident, you won’t be eligible for compensation.

Speak to a Lawyer If You’re Hurt By An ATV

ATV riding is a popular pastime in the area and heavily integrated into how farms in Pennsylvania operate. But if you’ve been involved in an ATV accident, thinking long-term about your recovery and holding the right party accountable is essential. This can be hard to do without legal help.

By working with an experienced personal injury attorney, like those at Atlee Hall, you can identify the actual cause of the accident, get guidance regarding the legal and insurance process with such a complicated claim, and pursue compensation for your various losses.

The benefits of consulting a lawyer after a devastating ATV accident:

  • Knowledge of the Law: An experienced lawyer can help you understand the legal implications of your ATV accident. They can explain your rights and advise you on the best action.
  • Investigation & Gather Evidence: If a defective ATV part caused your injuries, it could be hard to prove without help. A lawyer with experience in product liability cases can investigate and gather evidence to support your claim. This may include obtaining witness statements, reviewing industry reports, and collecting medical records.
  • Negotiate with Insurance Companies: An attorney can help negotiate with insurance companies on your behalf. ATV accidents sometimes happen among people who know each other well. You’ll want an impartial professional handling the process if you are hurt by an ATV on your neighbor’s land. Additionally, insurance companies often try to minimize the compensation they pay, and a lawyer can help ensure you receive a fair settlement.
  • Court Representation: If necessary, a personal injury lawyer can represent you. They can present your case to a judge or jury and argue for the compensation you deserve.
  • Peace of Mind: Finally, consulting with a personal injury lawyer can provide clarity in a difficult time. A lawyer can handle the legal details of your case, allowing you to focus on your recovery and moving forward.

Overall, a lawyer can explain if you have a case after an ATV accident and help ensure you receive the compensation and justice you deserve for your losses. Call (717) 393-9596 or contact Atlee Hall online.