All terrain vehicles are considered a welcome past-time in Florida, especially now that cooler evenings have afforded more comfortable camping conditions in rural parts of the state. However, recent news reports are littered with stories of individuals who have lost their lives in Florida ATV accidents.
There was the teenager killed in Miami-Dade ATV crash late last month when the off-road vehicle was reportedly traveling on 198th Street and was struck by a pickup truck. Another teenager and the driver of the pickup were critically injured. Then there was the 41-year-old man who died in Ocala after the ATV he was riding crashed as he negotiated a curve on Southwest 153rd Loop. Then a 51-year-old Pompano Beach man was killed in an ATV accident at River Ranch Hunt Club in Lake Wales after reportedly losing control on a soft sand surface while trying to negotiate a right curve, resulting in a complete rollover, with the ATV resting on top of decedent.
Florida has some of the highest rates of ATV deaths in the U.S., according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission. The Sunshine State ranked No. 6 nationally, with 512 total deaths on ATVs reported between 1982 and 2012. A more recent CPSC analysis of ATV-related fatalities in 2016 indicates there were 337 reports of ATV deaths nationally just in 2016 alone. That’s a drop from the 484 reported in 2015 and the 581 reported in 2014. It should be noted that reporting for the last few most recent years is still ongoing, and these figures are expected to rise once the final reports are in. Between 1982 and 2016, the number of ATV deaths had risen to nearly 14,700.
When it comes to ATV injuries, the agency estimates there were more than 101,000 ATV-related injuries treated at hospital emergency rooms just in that single recent year. Of those, more than 1 in 5 were children under the age of 16. Most of those individuals (about 86 percent) are treated and released.
When it comes to ATV accident lawsuits, there are several things those injured or surviving family members may want to keep in mind. First, the majority of ATV accident cases will turn on an issue of fault, with the main question being who was responsible for causing the accident. In cases where victim was a passenger on someone else’s ATV (or on an ATV operated by another) or on an ATV struck by another ATV driver or motor vehicle operator, the question will be one of negligence. Victims will be able to sue if they can prove:
- Defendant owed a duty of care to victim;
- That duty was breached;
- The breach of duty caused the accident;
- Victim sustained losses and actual damages.
In some cases, there may be more than one negligent party.
Many ATV operators lack adequate training, and aren’t experienced in handling rougher terrain, hillsides and paved roads. This can lead to a collision. In other cases, children are given the opportunity to ride ATVS that are intended to operated by adults. Children have neither the strength nor experience to operate such heavy equipment (in most instances, engines 90ccs and above are only intended for those over 16).
Single-vehicle ATV accident victims may seek potential compensation from the manufacturer, if there is evidence some vehicle defect caused or contributed to the crash. There may also be recourse from the property owner where the collision occurred in a premises liability case.
These claims are highly fact-specific and individual to each case and circumstances. Consulting with an experienced West Palm Beach injury attorney is imperative.
Call Freeman Injury Law — 1-800-561-7777 for a free appointment to discuss your rights. Now serving Orlando, West Palm Beach, Port St. Lucie and Fort Lauderdale.
2016 Annual Report of ATV-Related Deaths and Injuries, December 2017, CPSC
More Blog Entries:
Be Mindful of Workers’ Compensation Lien on Third-Party Settlements and Verdicts, Dec. 24, 2017, West Palm Beach ATV Injury Attorney Blog