ATV Accidents

All Terrain Vehicles (ATVs) are among the most popular of outdoor recreational vehicles. However, in the past twenty years, ATV's have been linked to millions of injuries over 5,000 of which were fatal. According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, children under the age of 16 were involved in 27% of all ATV related injuries, and 38% of reported ATV related fatalities. Even more shocking is the fact that children under the age of 12 accounted for 18% of ATV related fatalities. And, perhaps the most disturbing finding made by the CPSC is the fact that the numbers of ATV related injuries reported each year are showing drastic increases each year. In 2002, 113,900 people reported injuries from the use of All Terrain Vehicles, which is 2,200 more injuries than were reported in 2001 and 18,400 more injuries than were reported in 2000.

ATV safety has always been a source of concern. In the early 1970's when the first three-wheeled ATVs hit the market, there were so many injuries and fatalities caused rollovers and accidents that the US Justice Department responded with legal action. Seventeen years after the sale of the almost 2.5 million three-wheeled ATVs, manufacturers were forced to cease production of the unsafe three-wheeler design. These unsafe vehicles were never recalled and many are still in use today.

The unsafe three-wheel design may have been removed from production lines, but even the most advanced of today's four-wheeled ATVs can be very hazardous to people who don't take vehicle safety and education seriously. There are rules to be followed for safe operation of an All Terrain Vehicle, unfortunately most consumers don't take the time to learn them and far too many ATV owners are not even aware of these proper safety regulations. One of the key reasons that ATV injuries and fatalities are on the rise each year, is the fact that most states enforce no regulations for ATV use. In most states there are currently no licensing or age requirements for ATV use. A sad fact due to the fact children make up a sizable percent of all ATV related injuries and deaths, many of which may have been prevented if regulations were in place on the size and models of vehicles for different age groups. According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, children under the age of 15 should never be operating standard ATVs, especially when there are smaller (70cc) ATVs that are built with smaller riders in mind.

Causes Of ATV Accidents

For the most part, ATV accidents are a matter of human error and could easily have been prevented with the proper education on ATV safety, and proper supervision. The majority of these accidents were caused by unsafe operation of the vehicles, including: operating at high speeds, the consumption of alcohol, operating the ATV on roads with automobile traffic. The other causes of ATV accidents fall into the category of "manufacturing defects", these are problems created due to improper assembly or design. This is a common problem, and product recalls are reported when design flaws are found to create unsafe operation for consumers.

Legal Action - What To Do

If an ATV-related injury has affected you or a loved one, you might be in line to receive due compensation. If the accident was not the fault of the driver or if you feel that the manufacturers failed to inform you of unsafe product defects then you should consult an attorney. Your attorney could work to get compensation that would cover bills related to the accident and injuries. Compensation can also be demanded if the injury caused a loss of earnings in you or your family's income. Wrongful death suits can also be filed for cases in which a loved one died from his or her injuries. If you or a loved one has recently been involved in an ATV related accident and wish to consult an attorney, there are important steps to take to ensure yourself the best chance for receiving your due compensation. You should immediately see a doctor or medical specialist, even if you feel fine, medical inspections can serve as vital records in the legal process and they can make sure that your injuries are not more serious than you were aware of. The next step to take is the accumulation of all records and papers dealing with the accident and injuries. It is vital that you collect dated records that describe the location of the accident, the people involved, witnesses, the manufacturing specifications of the vehicle itself, and your own copies of insurance information. Creating an organized portfolio of your evidence is highly important and will help to accelerate your legal actions. It is important to take immediate legal action, as many states have a statute of limitations for filing lawsuits dealing with ATV accidents. Finally, it is important that you refuse to talk about the details of your accident / injury with anyone and never sign a document related to your accident / injury without your lawyer present.