ATVs (All Terrain Vehicles) and UTVs (Utility Task/Terrain Vehicles) are downright fun vehicle types to use, and are often key in exploring the great outdoors on a hunting, camping, or nature exploration trip in West Virginia. But as fun as ATVs and UTVs may be, they–like all vehicle types–are also dangerous. In fact, all terrain and utility terrain vehicles are so dangerous that reports indicate that approximately 340 people died in ATV accidents in a single year throughout the United States. Statistics also highlight that, unfortunately, West Virginia is one of the top 10 states in the nation for ATV-related deaths, with at least 641 people being killed in accidents involving ATVs over a 31-year period.
At the law offices of Bailey, Javins & Carter L.C., we take no issue with ATVs/UTVs, but we do take issue with defectively designed vehicles, dangerous conditions, and negligent drivers. If you or a loved one has been involved in an ATV/UTV accident and suffered harm, our experienced West Virginia personal injury lawyers want you to know that you may be entitled to compensation by filing a personal injury claim. Contact us for a free consultation today to learn more.
Top Causes of ATV/UTV Accidents in West Virginia
Nearly all motor vehicle accidents, ATV/UTV or otherwise, are caused by negligence. This simply means that accidents are caused by a party’s failure to act in a reasonable and safe manner, rather than by external, uncontrollable circumstances. For example, as explained by an ATV rider course available online, many ATV/UTV accidents are caused by:
- Allowing children to ride without adult supervision;
- Riding without following state laws for ATV/UTV operation;
- Riding an ATV/UTV in unfamiliar terrain;
- Operator inexperience;
- Riding with too many people on an ATV/UTV; and
- Driving an ATV/UTV on a surface that is not designed for, such as pavement.
In addition to the above, other things that may cause ATV/UTV accidents include:
- Riding in areas that are marked as dangerous or otherwise prohibited from entering;
- Operating an ATV with certain medical conditions;
- Operating an ATV while intoxicated, impaired, or fatigued; and
- ATV defects, such as steering, engine, or braking defects.
Injuries Caused By ATV/UTV Accidents
ATVs are very similar to motorcycles or bicycles, in that when a person is using an ATV and crashes, they have nothing to protect them from harm, including no airbags, doors, or seatbelt. This means that when an ATV crash occurs, it is very common for a rider to be thrown from the ATV/UTV, and sometimes, the ATV can even roll on top of the rider, causing serious injuries. Some of the most common injuries that are sustained in all terrain vehicle accidents include:
- Head injuries – In almost all motor vehicle and all terrain accident types, the head is the most vulnerable part of the body and at risk of harm. When the head is impacted with force, the victim is at risk of sustaining a traumatic brain injury, which could have lasting or even fatal effects. The risk of a brain injury is reduced when the rider is helmeted.
- Spine fractures and spinal cord injuries. The spine is another very vulnerable part of the body, and one that is often impacted when a rider/passenger is thrown from an ATV/UTV. Comprised of multiple vertebrae, any one of these vertebra within the spine could suffer a fracture, which is both painful and disabling. In very serious cases, the fracture may be bad enough that the spinal cord is impacted. If this occurs, the result is often full or partial paralysis that is irreversible.
- Internal injuries. The body has a number of internal organs that are essential for wellbeing and life. When an accident occurs, these organs can be impacted or even punctured by an external object (i.e. the ATV itself) or an internal bone, such as a rib. This can cause internal bleeding and various other complications, which may be severe enough to result in death if not quickly treated.
- Amputation injuries. Living life as an amputee is very possible, but it is not without serious challenges, both psychological and physical. When an ATV accident occurs, the damage to a limb may be so severe that the body part is not salvageable, forcing the need for amputation.
- Fractures to the extremities. Bones are supple to a point, but when enough force is applied, they can fracture. Fractures are very painful, and may require surgery to fix when severe. Thankfully, fractures are not typically life-threatening, although they may be disabling.
Who Is Liable for an ATV/UTV Accident?
Liability for an ATV accident in West Virginia depends on negligence, or fault. If you are involved in an ATV crash, we recommend that you contact our skilled West Virginia personal injury attorneys as soon as possible so we can help you to determine who might be to blame for your crash, and what steps to take next. In most cases, you will file a claim with the insurance company of the party who was operating an ATV/UTV that you were operating on at the time of crash; the insurance company of the party who was operating another ATV/UTV that caused your accident; or the manufacturer of the ATV/ATV part if you believe that the accident was caused by a manufacturing defect.
In order to prove that the at-fault party owes you compensation for your injuries, you will have to prove that the party owed you a duty of care, that they breached this duty of care (i.e. operating the ATV/UTV irresponsibly, manufacturing an ATV/UTV with a dangerous defect, etc.), and that this directly caused your damages. When you are pursuing a personal injury claim following an ATV accident, you can seek compensation for both your economic and noneconomic damages, including costs such as medical expenses, lost wages, and the value of your pain and suffering. Remember that if you wait more than two years from the date of your accident to file a lawsuit, however, you will be barred from recovering damages, so it is important to contact our office immediately after your accident.
Contact Our Experienced West Virginia ATV/UTV Lawyers Today
When you file a claim with an insurance company following an ATV accident, chances are you may not be offered the settlement that you deserve. This is where our legal team steps in; insurance companies and ATV manufacturers are armed with talented lawyers – we even the playing field and help you fight back. To learn more about what to do following an ATV/UTV accident and your rights, contact our experienced and skilled West Virginia ATV accident lawyers today for a free consultation. Contact our firm at (800) 497-0234.