Yamaha Sued for Yamaha Rhino Rollover Accidents Resulting in Amputations and Other Severe Injuries

By February 16, 2008Product Liability

Yamaha Rhino’s are the subjects of lawsuits and claims throughout the country because of their propensity to roll over due to their narrow wheel base and high center of gravity. The problem is made much more serious because Rhino’s which are all terrain vehicles made by Yamaha Corporation lack doors so when they rollover and the driver or passenger’s arms or legs get outside the Rhino, severe injuries and amputations are the result.
If a picture is worth a thousand words, then the aftermath of a Yamaha Rhino rollover speaks volumes, given the number of people who have been killed or injured while riding in the ATV—many of them children.
A photograph of Ashlyn Vargas, a bright and effervescent 12-year-old who was killed when her Yamaha Rhino ATV flipped on top of her and crushed the teen. It was the day after Thanksgiving.
Then there is Matt, a young man who appears healthy and intact in every respect until he pops of his prosthetic leg, displaying the stump where is right knee should have been. He lost his lower right leg after the Yamaha Rhino ATV he was in, rolled.
Introduced in 2003, the Yamaha Rhino ATV proved immensely popular: imagine an ATV with seating for two, seat belts, a roll cage and protection from the sun. A suggestion for hours of fun.
But here’s what it didn’t have: Doors. A low center of gravity. A wide frame, and wide tires for stability. Suddenly the Rhino was earning a less-then stellar reputation amongst enthusiasts. One blogger posted this comment in September of 2006:
“They look pretty fun and bonus, two seats. A seat for the daughter and seat belts.
The only bad thing about them is safety. If you flip/roll one of them, say goodbye to one or both of your legs. They should put small doors on the sides to keep your legs on the inside in case of a rollover. Other than that…”
There you go. Back to Matt, who looks none too happy displaying his stump in the on-line photo.
Dwight could not be happy, either. While you can’t see his face in the photo, one look at his mangled left leg tells you that he suffered a great deal after only a few hours in his brand-new 2004 Yamaha Rhino side-by-side ATV. It appears as if the lower half of his left leg, at mid-shin, was shorn off but surgically re-attached. Dwight is said to have endured a lengthy hospital stay.
With room for two, and a shallow box in back, the Rhino ATV was marketed as part utility vehicle, part recreational vehicle. It looks rugged, with knobby tires and green in color, like a small Jeep. The term ‘4 x 4’ is stenciled on the rear panel, by the taillight.
But there are no doors—nothing to prevent limbs from taking the brunt of a rollover. Even if the operator were wearing a helmet and the supplied seat belt, which is recommended, there is little protection for an arm, or a limb to flail into harm’s way.
After years of accident reports and several deaths, Yamaha finally came to the table in October of 2007 with an offer to retrofit doors and a passenger grab handle to any Yamaha Rhino ATV, regardless of age and condition.
It is also understood that the 2008 models will ship with doors and grab handle factory-installed. However, those improvements do not answer critics who maintain the Rhino carries a center of gravity that is too high for safe off-roading, and a frame that is too narrow only exacerbates that problem.
Narrow, and top-heavy. A recipe for disaster, even on relatively flat surfaces, and at slow speeds.
“The slow speed my daughter was going when this happened—and I saw the tire tracks, it tipped really easily,” Ashlyn Vargas’ grieving father Primo, told KSBY 6 Action News.
Lawsuits filed against the manufacturer concerning the Yamaha Rhino ATV allege the unit is dangerously unstable.
Primo Vargas, featured in a media report, gets the last word:
“Don’t make the mistake I did. Find out what’s going on before you put your kid in any kind of vehicle like this. You could cost them their life and I wouldn’t wish this pain on anybody.”
This story was written in part by
By Gordon Gibb along with Jeffrey Lowe of the Lowe Law Firm in St. Louis Missouri