ATVs are very popular among people who enjoy the off-road experience. These motorized vehicles are intended to be used in places that ordinary vehicles don’t go, and each ATV driver is, of course, free to imagine new places to take the vehicle. The basic design of the vehicles includes a seat which the driver straddles and handlebars for steering.
ATVs may have three wheels or four; each wheel is intended to hold a low-pressure tire that provides good traction. Many early models had three wheels, but these proved very unstable. By the late 1980s most ATV makers agreed to stop distributing the three-wheeled models; while some three-wheeled ATVs remain in use, most ATVs in the US now have four wheels.
ATV Accident Statistics
Far too often, the expected fun of an ATV ride ends up with someone injured or dead. ATV accidents resulted in 753 deaths in Texas from 1982 to 2014—the most of any state. Many of those victims were children. Many more people were injured than died. Nationally, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) reports 13,617 ATV-related fatalities between 1982 and 2014. Of those deaths, 1,342 involved children under 12; 3,098 involved children under 16.
Injuries are considerably more numerous: some 93,700 ATV-related visits to emergency departments in 2014. Almost 25,000 of these injuries involved children younger than 16; 11,400 involved children under 12.
That’s a lot of mayhem from a recreational vehicle. In fact, out of 34 sports activities (including football and snowboarding), riding ATVs comes with a highest risk of an injury that requires hospitalization.
Kinds of ATV Accidents
Rollovers are very common with ATVs. Drivers often climb very steep inclines which tend to cause backward rolls, and driving the ATV with one side higher than the other often results in a rollover to the lower side, especially if the driver’s weight suddenly shifts in that direction.
Another common accident involves driving into an obstacle that is higher than the body of the ATV, but low enough to hit the driver. Examples include:
- Tree limbs
- Rock overhangs
- Clothes lines
- Utility wires
Other very common ATV accidents include collisions with solid objects and sudden stops or slowing that cause the driver to pitch forward over the handlebars.
Typical Injuries from ATV Accidents
Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is the most common cause of death from an ATV accident. Among non-fatal injuries, contusions/abrasions were most common (24 percent), while fractures accounted for 22 percent. Other common injuries included:
- Sprains and strains (15 percent)
- Lacerations (10 percent)
- Internal organ injuries (10 percent)
These injuries primarily affected the following areas of the body:
- Head or neck (28 percent)
- Arm (28 percent)
- Leg (23 percent)
- Torso (20 percent)
The fact that ATV activity frequently takes place well off the beaten track means that victims may not receive medical help for some time. This delay can obviously exacerbate the damage from any type of injury.
Given the dangers of ATV riding, helmets are crucial. Many deaths and severe injuries occur to drivers who are:
- Not wearing a helmet at all
- Wearing a helmet that isn’t properly fitted
- Wearing a helmet that fails for some reason (helmet breaks, or simply doesn’t perform as it was advertised)
Improperly fitted helmets are a real problem when the driver or passenger is a young child.
It’s tempting for ATV users to “double up” usually by having a second person riding behind the driver. This presents several problems for safety:
- The passenger can’t see where the ATV is headed, and can’t brace for bumps, collisions, etc.
- The second person’s weight affects the balance and steering of the ATV.
- The passengers can physically interfere with the driver’s ability to steer or see.
Get Help from an Experienced Austin ATV Accident Attorney
Recovering damages for injuries or a death suffered in an ATV accident is never simple. How do you know who was at fault? What if the person injured was using the ATV in a way that made an accident more likely? How do you even find out if the ATV itself, or some accessory like a helmet, was defective? If you or someone you know is facing this dilemma, the best thing you can do is to get good experienced legal help as soon as possible.
At the Austin personal injury lawyer firm of Briggle & Polan, PLLC, we know what questions to ask when it comes to ATV accidents, and we know where to find the answers to each one. The sooner we get involved, the easier it is to preserve evidence that may be crucial to the case. We can also help you document your damages, and just generally take a lot of the worry off your hands so you can deal with the practicalities of getting the victim healthy both physically and psychologically.
We’ve been successfully handling Texas injury and accident cases for a long time. Call our office to schedule a consultation. The consultation is entirely free, and once we hear your story, we can tell you the best way to proceed. Contact us today! 512-472-1926