What Happens If You Get Into an Off-Road Vehicle Accident?
Off-road and all-terrain vehicles like ATVs, dirtbikes, motorcycles are very popular. They offer riders the thrill of exploring nature and going on rough terrain while offering some level of protection by virtue of being in a vehicle… or so one would think. These vehicles are not always safe, and they can cause a number of different serious, catastrophic, and debilitating injuries. What happens if you get into an off-road vehicle accident?
If you do get into an accident, we’re here for you. Riverside, California personal injury lawyers Heiting & Irwin have over four decades of experience assisting clients with personal injury. We have retrieved more than $400 million for our clients, and we’ll work hard to get you the settlement that’s rightfully yours.
All About Off-Road Vehicle Accidents
Off-road vehicles include ATVs, dirt bikes, some types of motorcycles, golf carts, and dune buggies. People may use these vehicles by themselves, with friends, or on guided tours through nature, typically while they’re on vacation. Additionally, farmers and some construction workers use ATVs to fulfill their everyday responsibilities.
According to the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission, between 2016-2020, there was an annual average of 101,100 ATV- related emergency department-treated injuries. More than a quarter of those injuries occurred to children who were under 16 years of age, which was the highest number for any age group. California was one of the states with the highest rate of injuries.
People commonly become injured when an ATV rolls, flips, or otherwise causes the occupants to be thrown from the vehicle or pins them under the vehicle. Since teenagers and younger children may not have the experience operating vehicles like adults do, they may be more prone to getting into accidents and sustaining serious injuries.
Other causes of ATV accidents include:
- Lack of training
- Attempting dangerous stunts
- Drinking or using drugs while driving
- Going on a regular paved road
- Overloading a vehicle with passengers
- Defective vehicles
- Lack of safety devices, including seatbelts and safety cages, inadequate lighting
- Poor maintenance on vehicles
Off-road vehicles can weigh hundreds of pounds and go as fast as 65 miles per hour (or more), so accidents can be severe. You could suffer from a catastrophic injury or from a less serious injury and still be out of work or school for weeks or months at a time. That timeline could extend for years depending on the severity of your injury.
Some of the specific injuries that you could experience after getting into an ATV accident include:
- Broken collar bones
- Fractured legs and arms
- Back injuries
- Internal bleeding
- Spinal injuries
Some of these injuries could require you to be checked into a hospital and possibly have to undergo surgery or other life-saving procedures. No matter what, if you get into an ATV accident, it’s critical you seek out immediate medical attention.
Safety Tips for ATVs
Before jumping on an ATV, there are safety tips you should follow to ensure you and your family stay safe at all times.
First, don’t let young children operate vehicles. They could lose control of the vehicle and will not know how to drive like an adult does.
If you’re under the influence of drugs or alcohol, do not operate an ATV. If you need to get somewhere and you’re stuck because you are under the influence, make alternate plans.
If you’re using an ATV on a hot day, make sure you stay hydrated to avoid dehydration, which can cause you to lose mental function. Additionally, if it’s sunny, you may want to wear sunglasses so you can properly see what’s ahead of you.
Always wear a helmet and any other recommended protective gear while you’re in the vehicle, and don’t overload it with passengers. Stay on the path and don’t take it on a public roadway.
Read the operating manual to see how to properly operate it and carry a phone on you just in case there is an emergency. Tell a family member or friend where you’ll be located in case you have poor cell phone reception.
Who Is Responsible for an ATV Accident?
When you get into an ATV accident, there are a few parties who may be responsible.
The first is the tour operator, if you were on a tour. They may not have properly maintained the vehicles, trained the workers, or trained you on how to operate it. They could have taken you to a dangerous area or encouraged reckless behavior. The operator may not have been paying attention and didn’t spot, or warn of, potential dangers/hazards.
Another responsible party could be the ATV manufacturer. They might not have built the ATV correctly and it could be defective and cause accidents and injuries.
You may, yourself, bear some responsibility for your injuries. Perhaps you were paying attention to your cell phone instead of the road when you got into an accident, or you decided to drink before getting into the vehicle. Keep in mind that even if you are partly responsible, you may still have a claim and be able to retrieve some sort of compensation.
Pay attention to any documentation a tour company makes you sign. You may be waiving rights and/or your ability to pursue a claim for damages against them.
Proving Liability in an Off-Road Vehicle Accident
If you collect proof at the scene of the accident, you may be able to prove liability in your off-road vehicle case.
If possible, take photos and videos at the scene to show what happened. Take photos of your injuries and damage to any property. If you can, ask witnesses for their information so you can get a statement. Look for cameras that may have captured the events leading up to, and including, the incident. You should also call the police to file a report.
Most importantly, get treatment for your injuries as soon as you can and follow all of your doctor’s orders.
As soon as you can, you should consult with a personal injury attorney.
Get in Touch With Heiting & Irwin for Help
If you, your child, or a loved one, were injured in an ATV or off-road vehicle accident, then you should consult with an experienced personal injury lawyer. Heiting & Irwin are here for you. Contact us online or call us at 951-682-6400.