If you have been involved in an ATV accident in our outside of Spokane or Spokane Valley or another area of Washington please feel free to contact us today for a free and confidential consultation.
An all-terrain vehicle (ATV) is a vehicle with four wheels that is used for both recreational and work activities, especially in agriculture. Some older ATVs with three wheels are still in operation, but due to dangerous stability issues, nearly all of them were recalled after the federal government labeled them an “imminent hazard.” Regardless of whether an ATV has three wheels or four wheels, accidents can be equally as severe.
Balance is a factor in operating an ATV because the driver must straddle the seat and shift his or her weight like on a snowmobile. Some ATVs can weigh hundreds of pounds, and they can reach speeds well in excess of 60 mph.
In rural areas Spokane you will occasionally see some ATVs on streets, which should have metal tags.
ATV riders are exposed to injury
Any type of ATV can be difficult to operate, and their drivers are vulnerable to injury. The vehicles can have a very high center of gravity, such as the Yamaha Rhino. They don’t have doors, a roof, roll bars, safety cages or restraint systems to protect drivers. Like automobiles and motorcycles, ATVs are insurable. Even bodily injury and uninsured motorist coverage are available.
National ATV accident statistics
The most recent ascertainable injury and death statistics from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission are from 2014. It reported that between 1982 and 2014, a startling 113,617 ATV-related deaths occurred. There were 547 of such deaths in 2013, and in 2012, there were 574. Between 1982 and 2014, there were 3,098 ATV-related deaths of children younger than 16 years of age. Children under 12 tragically represented 43 percent of the 3,098 ATV-related deaths of children under 16. It’s estimated that in 2014, there were 93,700 ATV-related emergency room visits. Between 2008 and 2011, 35 people died in ATV-related accidents in Washington.
Common causes of ATV accidents
There are a variety of causes of ATV accidents. Many of them involve the carelessness of the driver or another ATV driver nearby, but in some cases the ATV itself is to blame or the person who owns it. Some causes include:
- Riding on pavement because ATVs aren’t designed for pavement
- Riding with a passenger since nearly all ATVs are made for one person
- Performing dangerous maneuvers
- Driving in unfamiliar areas
- Lack of instruction and adult supervision
- Dangerously defective ATVs
Common ATV injuries
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, fractures, contusions and abrasions consisted of 55 percent of all ATV emergency room visits. Most fractures were to the lower extremities. Face and mouth injuries are also highly represented. Head injuries are the primary cause of actual hospitalizations. About 80 percent of all ATV-related deaths involve rollovers or flips that can result in traumatic brain or spinal cord injuries. Yamaha Motor Corporation has even voluntarily recalled more than 120,000 ATVs that have been connected with 46 deaths and hundreds of serious injuries from rollovers.
Washington ATV safety laws
ATV usage in Washington is mostly unregulated. To cross a highway or drive an ATV on a highway, the operator must be over the age of 13. On certain lands, riders under the age of 13 must be supervised by a licensed driver over the age of 18 who has a valid driver’s license. Unless the ATV is used exclusively for agricultural purposes, all riders must wear a helmet. That’s the extent of ATV safety statutes in Washington.
Who can be held liable in ATV accidents?
Determining responsibility for an ATV accident can be complicated. How an accident occurred requires a close examination of the facts surrounding it. There are times when liability can be attributed to somebody other than the ATV’s driver. They might include:
- The manufacturer of a dangerously defective vehicle
- Owners or occupiers of ATV trails or parks
- ATV owners or drivers when a passenger is injured
- The owner of an ATV who allows an inexperienced person to drive it
- Another careless and negligent ATV driver
- Motorists who hit an ATV with their vehicle
Injuries suffered in ATV accidents can be severe and debilitating, and the resulting medical and rehabilitation bills can be overwhelming and financially devastating. The grief from losing somebody close to you can overcome you. There are many times when children or teens are completely unaware of how dangerous it can be to ride one of these vehicles. Washington even allows property owners and occupiers of land certain immunities if they allow the land to be used for recreational purposes. Those aren’t blanket immunities though; you or your family might be eligible for compensation for injuries or a death resulting from an ATV accident. Contact us for a free consultation and case evaluation, and we’ll discuss whether you have a viable ATV injury case.