All-terrain vehicles (ATVs) are a popular activity enjoyed by many Floridians. And while these recreational vehicles are promoted for their fun, off-roading adventures, a dark side exists when it comes to these powerful machines. The first being its name. ATV’s, also known as ‘all-terrain vehicles’ are not meant for every type of terrain. Causes of ATV injuries range from vehicle roll-overs, hill-climbing, speeding, exceeding capacity of the vehicle (i.e. – when a second or third person gets on the ATV). And just like any other vehicle, ATV’s can have manufacturing defects. If these defects are not addressed and fixed timely, the results can be catastrophic.
ATV accidents result in 135,000 injuries and 700 fatalities every year. Approximately 1/3 of people killed in ATV accidents each year are under the age of 16, according to the Consumer Product and Safety Commission. In over 80 percent of reported ATV deaths, the victim was not wearing a helmet. Many of the injuries reported involve young children who are either operating the vehicle or are riding along with an adult. In Florida, it is illegal for children under the age of 16 to ride an ATV without a helmet. Even with the protection of helmets, an ATV rollover can result in serious injuries.
July marks the deadliest month for ATV accidents, according to the Consumer Federation of America. Over the 4th of July holiday weekend, a seven-year-old boy died, and two other younger children were injured while riding ATVs in Dade City, Florida, after their vehicles rolled over.
During the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, sales for power-sports equipment, including ATVs, have been on the rise as more people are looking for ways to seek entertainment outside. Not surprisingly, the number of injuries and fatalities sustained while riding an ATV have also been on the rise. The injuries sustained in an ATV accident can be minor, but many times, they are life-threatening, if not deadly, especially if the victim is not wearing a helmet.
The engine power in ATVs today are much higher than in previous decades. Certain safety measure should be taken before operating or riding on an ATV. According to the ATV Safety Institute, drivers and passengers should wear Department of Transportation-compliant helmets, as well as eye protection, gloves, long sleeves, long pants, and ankle-high boots. They should not be driven on paved roads unless necessary and safe to cross a road. Just like any other vehicle, you should never ride when the ATV is being operated by someone under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
Be aware of what type of ATV you are riding before getting on the vehicle. If the ATV is a single-rider vehicle, only one person should be riding. Only the recommended number of people should be riding the ATV when it is in operation. Additionally, only ride an age-appropriate ATV, and if someone under the age of 16 is operating an ATV, that child should only do so under direct and constant supervision.
Florida law defines an ATV as any motorized off-highway vehicle, 50 inches or less in width, and under 1,200 pounds, that operates on three or more tires, and is meant for use by a single operator or no passenger, but an ATV can also be designed for an operator and passenger.
For an ATV to be allowed to operate on public land, it must be titled, although Florida law does not require registration. ATVs are also not allowed on paved roads. Additionally, Florida requires ATV manufacturers to provide training courses, although operators are not required to take them.
If you are involved an ATV accident that was not the result of operator error or negligence but rather a manufacturing defect, you could have a legal claim against the ATV manufacturer for injuries sustained as a result. If the owner of the ATV has received a recall notice for the ATV but has failed to bring the vehicle in for repairs, a legal claim could potentially be made against the owner for negligence, as well.
If you were seriously injured in an off-road ATV accident, or if someone close to you has died as a result of injuries sustained in an ATV accident anywhere in the State of Florida, contact our firm today for a free consultation. The attorneys at Wooten Kimbrough Damaso & Dennis, P.A. is comprised of award-winning trial lawyers who have obtained record setting verdicts for the injured and their families in Central Florida and around the world. From investigating the cause of the accident to helping you get the medical treatment you need, our experienced legal team is here to assist you every step of the way, and get you the compensation you deserve.