As a Missouri all-terrain vehicle crash attorney, a recent report by Ozarks Public Radio station KMSU about ATV accidents got my attention. According to Jami Blackwell, a trauma nurse clinician in Springfield, CoxHealth Hospital in that city has seen injuries from ATV accidents increase each year for the past several years. I’ve written about several such accidents in Missouri and Illinois, including two within the last year that have killed <href=”http://www.missouriinjurylawyerblog.com/2009/08/sevenyearold_boy_dies_in_atv_a.html”>children. I’m glad that KMSU is providing important safety information about ATVs, but I also worry that these vehicles can be dangerous even when riders do observe safety precautions.
Blackwell told KMSU that Springfield’s CoxHealth Hospital treated 12 ATV accident victims from March through May 2009. This year, 13 ATV accident victims were admitted to the hospital from March through May 2010. In addition, one patient died of an ATV-related injury, and 16 others were treated and released without hospitalization. Blackwell said she believed people are buying more ATVs because riding them is thrilling for children, but they should also be conscious of the safety risks involved. For example, state law requires riders under 18 to wear helmets, and the American Academy of Pediatrics advises that children under 16 not ride ATVs at all. If kids do ride them, which is legal, they should use smaller ATVs for smaller kids, have everyone under 18 wear a legally required helmet and consider taking a safety course. Further, ATVs are designed to be ridden only on off-road terrain, so riding them on paved roads can be more dangerous, and Missouri law restricts ATV use on public roads. But even when ATV riders obey these laws, which should improve ATV safety, injuries still occur. Blackwell said speed, multiple riders, tricks and rollover accidents can also increase the risk of a serious ATV injury.
As a St. Louis ATV crash lawyer, I think it’s important for anyone considering riding an ATV to think about the risks of riding even after taking all these important safety precautions. Because ATVs are designed with high centers of gravity and intended to go on uneven off-road terrain, they are prone to rolling over easily. This could be considered a design flaw, but at the least, it’s a reason to be more careful when using one. ATVs are also motor vehicles that lack the lifesaving safety features that most cars and trucks have. Some are driven at speeds up to 80 miles per hour, yet it’s perfectly legal for children to use them, even if the children are nowhere near the legal age for driving. Despite all of these risks, ATVs are not regulated like other vehicles that can be driven at that speed. ATVs are regulated by the Consumer Product Safety Commission and treated as if they were toys, not vehicles. Possibly as a result of that lack of regulation, the CPSC reports that ATV accidents nearly tripled in the nine years between 1995 and 2004, with children under 16 accounting for a third of the injuries and a quarter of the deaths.
Even though ATVs are not heavily regulated, their manufacturers still have a legal and moral responsibility to make sure that they are as safe as possible for users. Missouri and Illinois law require ATV manufacturers to ensure that their products are safe for all conditions under which they can legally be operated. If they fail to do so and someone gets hurt because of the ATV’s defects, state law allows victims to demand accountability from the manufacturer. 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. Our ATV accident attorneys are experienced in helping people injured by dangerous ATVs. We will seek compensation for medical expenses, future and other affected wages, disability and other related damages, and pain and suffering, so that you will have the financial support you need to put your life back together after a devastating accident.
To learn more, contct Carey, Danis & Lowe for a free consultation. You can call us toll-free at 1-877-678-3400, or send us a message online.