ATV Accidents in the Pittsburgh, PA Area
According to the latest data from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), there were 14,653 reported ATV-related fatalities between 1982 and 2016. A total of 3,232 of those fatalities (22 percent) occurred in children younger than 16 years of age.
These statistics show that while ATVs can be fun and useful in various ways, they can also be extremely dangerous. Many states require no training or license to operate them, and there are no age limits associated with them, which is why children are most often at risk.
Adding to the inherent danger of the vehicles themselves is the fact that some manufacturers fail to provide adequate safety protections, allowing poor design and manufacturing defects to put public health at risk.
In April 2018, for example, ATV manufacturer Polaris agreed to pay $27.5 million to settle charges over its defective vehicles—specifically, because the company failed to immediately report problems with their RZR and Ranger models to the CPSC, as required.
The Pittsburgh lawyers at Chaffin Luhana are currently investigating cases in which ATVs and other off-road vehicles caused serious injuries and/or deaths. If you or a loved one used one of these products and then suffered from serious injuries, you may be eligible to file an ATV accident lawsuit.
What are ATVs?
An ATV or “all-terrain vehicle” is a motorized four-wheeled vehicle designed to be used off-highway for recreation and for getting around rough terrain. Also called “quads,” the vehicles are often used for agricultural purposes, but have become more and more popular as family fun machines, used often on camping trips and for weekend playtime.
There are two basic types of ATVs: one designed for a single operator, and one designed for an operator and a passenger, who sits behind the driver. There are various sizes available too, including “youth” models meant for smaller hands and feet and slower travel speeds.
There are many manufacturers that design and market ATVs, including the following:
- Arctic Cat
- Bombardier (BRP)
Causes of ATV Accidents
There are many things that can cause an ATV accident, including the following:
- Driver is inexperienced; driver error
- Driving the vehicle on a paved surface (ATVs handle poorly on pavement)
- More riders on the vehicle than it is designed for
- Operating a vehicle while under the influence of drugs or alcohol
- Improper positioning of the vehicle
- Performing dangerous stunts; inappropriate hill climbing
- Vehicle rollover
- Lack of protective gear
Statistics show that during the first month of operation, new ATV drivers have an injury rate 13 times higher than the overall average injury rate for ATV operators. Almost half of injured drivers have less than one-year experience, and about one-fourth have less than one month experience.
Types of Defects Associated with ATVs
Children Remain Unprotected When It Comes to ATV Accidents
Meanwhile, children remain particularly at risk for ATV-related injuries and death. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) states that an estimated 26,800 children were injured seriously enough from ATV accidents to require treatment in the emergency room in 2016. At least 53 children lost their lives.
Rachel Weintraub, Legislative Director and General Counsel for the Consumer Federation of America (CFA) stated that ATVs “are one of the most dangerous products CPSC regulates, causing more deaths and injuries than almost any other product under CPSC’s jurisdiction.” President of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) Colleen A. Kraft stated that children under the age of 16 should not use the vehicles.
In 2002, consumer groups filed a petition with the CPSC calling for the ban of the sale of adult-size ATVs for children, and in 2011 Congress passed a law directing the CPSC to complete the creation of new ATV safety standards, but those standards have not yet been completed.
In 2014, the CFA released a report documenting a growing trend of states permitting ATVs on paved roads—a definite safety hazard. Meanwhile, the CPSC and other consumer advocates recommend that children aged 12-15 not ride ATVs with engines larger than 90 cc’s, but the AAP recommends that no child under the age of 16 ride an ATV at all.
Types of Injuries that Occur in ATV Accidents
Types of injuries that may occur when riding an ATV include:
- Cuts, lacerations, abrasions
- Sprains (wrists, ankles)
- Burn injuries
- Permanent scarring and disfigurement
- Abdominal injuries
- Head and spinal cord injuries
Make Safety a Priority When Riding ATVs
When driving an ATV, follow the following guidelines may reduce the risk of injury:
- Wear protective gear, including proper helmets and boots, as well as gloves, goggles, or other safety clothing.
- Undergo instruction and hands-on training on the operation of the ATV. The ATV Safety Institute offers ATV classes nationally.
- Review and understand the operator’s manual.
- Do not carry passengers.
- Always check your vehicle before riding it, making sure the tires are properly inflated, and that the throttle, brakes, lights, steering, and other controls are working properly.
- Be aware of hazards where you’re riding, including trenches, ditches, and other obstacles.
- Always follow the manufacturer’s recommendations on vehicle maintenance.
- Never exceed the weight limit.
- If your vehicle comes under a recall, stop using it and get it repaired as soon as possible.
ATV Accident Lawsuits
If you or a loved one operated an ATV and then experienced serious injuries such as those listed above, you may be eligible to file an ATV accident lawsuit to recover damages.