As I wrote last week, summer unfortunately brings what seems like a constantly increasing number of ATV accidents. One accident mentioned in the Springfield News-Leader caught my eye because the person hurt was riding a Polaris ATV. As a Missouri all-terrain vehicle crash lawyer, I’ve kept track of Polaris ATVs because they have been involved in countless recalls over the years, thanks to their potentially deadly defects.
In this case, the person hurt by a Polaris ATV wasn’t even out having a good time on it. On the morning of July 4, Shad D. West, 36, of Greenfield, Missouri, was loading his 2004 Polaris ATV onto another vehicle or a trailer when it flipped over backward and landed on him. The Missouri State Highway Patrol report doesn’t give much detail, but presumably West was trying to drive the ATV up a ramp into the other vehicle, in the usual manner for transporting an ATV. Sadly, West was seriously injured by the ATV rollover and had to be airlifted to Cox South Hospital in Springfield. I hope that West recovers quickly and fully, and I am sorry that this happened to him.
As a St. Louis ATV defect lawyer, I’ve worked with many clients who have been injured by defective ATVs. As I’ve discussed in this blog before, many ATVs’ designs are inherently unstable, making them prone to flipping over on top of their riders and crushing them. But the unstable design isn’t the only problem plaguing ATVs and their riders. Thousands of Polaris ATVs have been recalled over the years because of fire hazards and defective parts that could lead to drivers losing control of their vehicles. Most recently, at the end of 2009, about 8500 were recalled because the steering mechanism could come apart and cause the rider to lose control, posing a risk of injury or death to riders. The US Consumer Product Safety Commission had issued similar recall notices for out-of-control Polaris ATVs in 2007, 2004, 2001 and 2000. Thousands more were recalled due to dangerous fire hazards from various causes in 2009, 2008, 2007, 2005, 2004, and 2003.
This history of defects in Polaris ATVs is worrisome. It is particularly concerning that recalls keep happening year after year, meaning that defective ATVs keep getting manufactured despite repeated reports of problems with previous models. This puts consumers at risk of serious injury or even death. Who pays the price for these defects? The adults and children who suffer brain injuries, spinal cord injuries and amputations. Not only do they experience severe pain, they also incur thousands of dollars in medical bills, lose out on wages they or their caretakers could have earned at work, and potentially even lose their lives. This doesn’t seem like a fair price to pay for what the victims had originally thought was going to be a fun outing in the outdoors.
The law recognizes that in fact, it isn’t fair to expect ATV riders to pay such a high price. Companies that manufacture consumer goods are required by Missouri and Illinois state law to ensure that their products are safe. If consumers are hurt by the product even though they were using them according to directions or common practice, that victim can sue the manufacturer for financial compensation for his or her injuries. That means that the victim can recover all the costs that he or she was stuck with as a result of the defective product, such as pain and suffering, past and future lost wages, damage to relationships, and past and future medical costs. Anyone injured by a potentially defective ATV through no fault of their own should consult an experienced, knowledgeable southern Illinois defective ATV accident attorney at Carey, Danis & Lowe to learn about their rights.
If you or a loved one have been injured or a family member has been killed in an ATV accident, we urge you to contact Carey, Danis & Lowe for a free initial consultation. We can meet with you in our office, at the hospital or in the privacy of your home. You can call us toll-free at 1-877-678-3400, or send us a message online.