ATV Injuries and Accidents
All-terrain vehicles, commonly known as ATVs, are used across the country for work and play. Farmers and farm laborers use ATVs in order to keep track of livestock and grazing areas, inspect and maintain farmland, check and haul supplies to crops, and more. Many people also use ATVs for recreation on family farms, in off-road and mountainous areas, as well as in rural and coastal terrain.
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), which maintains injury statistics for ATVs, has documented a total of 14,129 reported ATV-related deaths during the period from 1982 to 2015. In 2015 alone, the CPSC estimates that nearly 98,000 people received emergency room treatment for ATV-related injuries.
Traumatic Brain Injury
Some of the most serious non-fatal ATV injury problems include traumatic brain injury (TBI), permanent concussions, neurologic injuries, spinal cord injuries, neck injuries, fractures and dislocations, in addition to chest and abdominal injuries. TBI can occur when an ATV rider hits his or her head in an accident, crash, or rollover. Often, the person involved in the crash may not even appear to be injured.
People injured in non-fatal ATV accidents can suffer catastrophic, life-changing medical problems. Treatment for ATV injuries can be costly and extensive. Head and spinal cord injuries often require extensive, ongoing physical therapy and rehabilitation.
The most common type of injury cause involves the ATV flipping or rolling. When this happens, an ATV driver and passenger can be thrown from the vehicle, or even pinned down by it. Many people don’t realize that, in general, ATVs are not designed to carry passengers in the back. Doing so can put both passengers and the vehicle operator at an increased risk for an accident. According to U.S. Department of Labor Occupational Safety and Health Administration, ATVs lack the general stability of other vehicles, and are not meant to be driven on regular paved roads.
Because children often lack the physical strength, cognitive abilities, and fine motor skills to operate ATVs properly, their risk for injury is greater than that of adults. Studies have found that adolescent and teenage ATV riders have more severe injuries and more head injuries than any other age group. Although there are state and federal laws, as well as codes and standards for all terrain vehicles, the fact remains that serious non-fatal ATV injuries and deaths can and still occur.
Cost of Medical Treatment and Long-Term Care from ATV Injuries
Treatment for ATV injuries can be costly, extensive, and often involves life-changing therapies and rehabilitation. A study by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) examining ATV injuries in Alaska concluded that six Alaskans permanently disabled in ATV accidents might require as much as $11.5 million to cover the cost of basic long-term skilled care, assuming each disabled ATV injury victim lived until they were 65 years-old.
In addition to physical damages, mental impairment and emotional damage suffered by many victims of life-changing ATV injuries may be severe. Similarly, TBI victims will require a lifetime of chronic care, together with extensive rehabilitation and the use of expensive assistive technologies, including augmentative and alternative communication devices.
To reduce your risk of injury, follow these safety tips:
- Always wear an approved helmet, appropriate footwear and other protective gear when driving an ATV.
- Do not allow ATV drivers to carry passengers.
- Ensure that all ATV drivers read and understand the vehicle's operating manual, including any limitations associated with the ATV and the terrain where it will be used.
- Check local and state regulations governing ATV use.
- Make sure that all ATV drivers and riders get safety training and practice experience operating an ATV.
- Never let young children drive an ATV.
- Never drive an ATV under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
- Make sure that you have at least one working communications device with you when you drive or ride an ATV so you can call for help in an emergency.
Get Your ATV Injury Case Evaluated
There are state and federal laws about ATV safety that manufacturers and sellers of ATVs must observe. If you or a loved one has experienced ATV-related injuries, you should first receive medical attention. Then, you may want to have an experienced attorney evaluate the merits of your case. You may be entitled to compensation for expenses and damages caused by your injury.
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Contact a qualified auto accident attorney to make sure your rights are protected.