Who Is Liable in an ATV/Side-by-Side Accident?

Written by Atlee Hall

Side-by-side ATVs can be an excellent tool for exploring trails and enjoying some of the less accessible parts of nature. However, when these motor vehicles crash, victims’ injuries are often catastrophic.

When someone else’s negligent actions were the cause of your collision, you may be entitled to compensation for your damages and suffering. But for your claim to be successful, your ATV accident lawyer must be able to introduce evidence that proves another party’s liability.

What Can Cause an Accident, and Why Does Liability Matter?

When you have been involved in a side-by-side ATV accident, you have the right to recover full compensation for your damages. However, your personal injury lawyer must prove the defendant’s liability and negligence for your insurance and civil claims to succeed.

In civil court, the burden of proof is based on a preponderance of the evidence. We must present compelling evidence showing the defendant is likely to blame for the injuries you sustained. With that in mind, here are some of the most common causes of ATV accidents and those responsible for causing them:

The ATV Operator

More often than not, side-by-side ATV accidents are caused by the ATV operator’s negligence. Negligence with these types of outdoor recreational motor vehicles can include an array of unsafe driving behavior, some of which include:

  • Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol
  • Inexperienced ATV operators
  • Reckless ATV operators
  • Operating an ATV while distracted
  • Failure to follow the rules and regulations on back roads

Negligent ATV operators be held accountable if they were operating a side-by-side ATV unsafely and causing injuries to their passengers. They can also be held accountable if they cause a collision with another recreational vehicle or strike a pedestrian.

Property Owners

The owner of the ATV could be held accountable if they lend their recreational vehicle to someone inexperienced, an individual that operates the vehicle unsafely, or if the owner fails to ensure the ATV’s safety, maintenance, and operation. For this reason, those looking to rent side-by-side ATVs may want to consider choosing a company with insurance protection coverage.

An Employer

The company that owns and operates side-by-side ATVs can also be held accountable when its recreational vehicles are involved in collisions. Some of the most common instances in which employers can be sued include:

  • Failure to perform safety inspections
  • Failure to perform necessary maintenance
  • Allowing inexperienced ATV operators to rent recreational vehicles
  • Using poor-quality parts to make repairs

It should also be noted that ATVs can also be used for on-the-job responsibilities, including manufacturing and construction work. You might have the right to workers’ compensation benefits if you suffered work injuries. Your employer’s workers comp protection coverage should cover your medical expenses, provide wage replacement benefits, and even cover the costs of vocational rehabilitation where necessary.

Proving Liability in an ATV or Side-by-Side Accident

As previously mentioned, a side-by-side ATV accident claim can be successful only if your personal injury attorney shows that another party’s negligence or conduct contributed to your injuries and damages.

How your accident occurred will help us identify the liable party and gather the evidence needed to prove the defendant’s negligence. For example, if defective parts caused your ATV accident, your attorney would know to look to the recreational vehicle manufacturer, the property owner, or other third parties.

Some of the most common types of evidence that may be available in cases like these include:

  • Safety inspection reports, or lack thereof
  • Maintenance records, or lack thereof
  • Photos of the ATV accident scene
  • Body cam footage of the collision
  • Copies of your medical records
  • Analysis of the ATV’s black box data
  • Witness statements
  • Police and crash reports

Shared Fault Laws Impacting Your ATV Accident Claim

Do not be surprised if the liable party accuses you of sharing the blame for your injuries. Pennsylvania operates under a modified comparative negligence system with a 50% threshold. This means even if you share liability for your injuries, as long as your portion of fault does not exceed 50%, you can still recover compensation for your damages

However, it will be at a reduced rate that is proportionate to your percentage of the blame. For example, if you were not wearing a helmet during the accident, the jury may find you 15% responsible for your traumatic brain injury. If the jury awarded you $100,000 for your damages, your settlement would be reduced by 15%, leaving you with a final payout of $85,000.

How Our ATV Accident Lawyers at Atlee Hall Can Help

You are under no legal obligation to have an ATV accident lawyer handling your case while you are still recuperating from your injuries. However, having an assertive legal advocate fighting for you could make all the difference. While you focus on healing, your attorney can:

  • Conduct an in-depth investigation into how the side-by-side ATV accident occurred
  • Gather compelling evidence to prove the defendant’s liability and negligence
  • Quantify your damages to calculate the value of your claim accurately
  • Prepare to negotiate with the insurance company for a reasonable settlement
  • Fight for your right to maximum compensation at trial, where necessary

Contact an ATV Accident Lawyer for Help Today

The impact a side-by-side ATV accident can have on your life is undeniable. The individual or entity liable for your damages should compensate you fairly for your suffering.

When you need help identifying those responsible and do not know where to turn, do not hesitate to call an ATV accident lawyer at Atlee Hall for a free consultation. Our firm can help you bring the liable party to justice and fully recover your damages. Please fill out our convenient contact form or call our office at (717) 393-9596 to get started as soon as today.