Understanding ATV Accidents in Texas
ATV (All-Terrain Vehicle) accidents can be relatively common in Texas, as well as other states with large rural areas, due to the prevalence of off-road activities and outdoor recreation. According to Texas Trails, Education, and Motorized Management, on average one person dies every week in the United States in an ATV accident. Serious injuries are far too common. Perhaps surprisingly, nearly 35% of ATV fatalities occur on paved roads and surfaces. Nearly 26% of fatalities occur at speeds over 20 mph. In this article, we will look at the factors that contribute to ATV accidents, what you can do to prevent them, and what you should do if you or a loved one is involved in an ATV accident.
Texas is the most dangerous state in the country for ATV accidents.
Who is responsible for an ATV accident?
The liability for an ATV accident will depend on the specific circumstances surrounding the incident. Here are some possible scenarios and who may be liable:
Operator negligence: If the accident occurred because the operator was driving recklessly or in violation of the law, then the operator may be liable for the accident.
Manufacturer defects: If the accident was caused by a defect in the ATV, such as faulty brakes or steering, then the manufacturer or distributor of the ATV may be liable for the accident.
Property owner liability: If the accident occurred on someone else’s property and the property owner failed to properly warn of hazards or maintain the property, then the property owner may be liable for the accident.
Negligence of another party: If the accident was caused by the negligence of another party, such as a driver of another vehicle or a pedestrian, then that party may be liable for the accident.
What types of insurance may apply to an ATV accident?
Here are some types of insurance policies that may provide coverage for ATV accidents:
Homeowners insurance: If the ATV is owned by the homeowner and is being used on the homeowner’s property, then the homeowner’s insurance policy may provide coverage for any accidents that occur.
ATV insurance: This type of insurance policy is specifically designed to cover ATV accidents and may provide coverage for property damage, bodily injury, and other types of losses.
Auto insurance: Some auto insurance policies may provide coverage for ATV accidents if the ATV is being used to transport people or property on public roads.
It is important to review your insurance policies carefully to understand what types of coverage are included and what types of exclusions may apply. Additionally, if you are involved in an ATV accident, it is important to report the accident to your insurance company as soon as possible.
The Rising Prevalence of ATV Accidents
With a growing number of 4-wheeler and four-wheeler accidents reported yearly, it’s crucial to understand the risks involved and how to protect yourself legally if you or a loved one is injured in an ATV accident. According to Report Linker, the off-road vehicle market was valued at $14 billion in 2020 and is expected to be worth $18 billion by 2026. That’s a lot of ATVs!
All-Terrain Vehicles are small, motorized vehicles designed for off-road use. They typically have four large, low-pressure tires, a seat for the rider, and handlebars for steering. ATVs are built to handle a wide variety of terrains, including dirt, sand, mud, and rocky surfaces, which makes them popular for outdoor recreational activities.
Recreational uses of ATVs include:
Trail riding: Many people enjoy riding ATVs on designated trails, through forests, deserts, or other off-road environments. Trail riding can be a leisurely activity or more intense, depending on the terrain and the rider’s experience level.
Exploration: ATVs allow users to explore remote areas that may be difficult or impossible to access with conventional vehicles. This can include visiting scenic vistas, abandoned structures, or simply discovering new landscapes.
Camping: ATVs can be used to access remote camping sites or transport camping gear, making it easier for outdoor enthusiasts to explore off-the-beaten-path locations.
Hunting: Some hunters use ATVs to access hunting areas, transport equipment, or retrieve game. However, it’s important to follow local regulations and guidelines related to ATV use in hunting areas.
Racing: ATV racing is a competitive sport that takes place on various types of off-road tracks, such as motocross tracks, desert courses, or closed-circuit trails. Races can be amateur or professional events.
Dune riding: In areas with large sand dunes, such as coastal regions or deserts, riding ATVs on the dunes is a popular activity. Dune riding requires skill to navigate the constantly shifting terrain and can be thrilling for experienced riders.
Common ATV Accident Injuries
ATV accidents can result in a range of injuries, from minor to severe or even fatal. The nature of ATVs, their off-road use, and the varying skill levels of riders contribute to the potential for accidents and injuries. Some common types of injuries that occur in ATV accidents include:
Head and brain injuries: Since ATVs are open vehicles and riders can be thrown off during accidents, head injuries are common. These can range from concussions to more severe traumatic brain injuries. Helmets can help reduce the risk of head injuries, but they may not entirely prevent them.
Fractures and dislocations: The impact of a crash or being thrown from an ATV can lead to broken bones and dislocated joints. Commonly affected areas include the arms, legs, wrists, collarbone, and shoulders.
Spinal cord injuries: ATV accidents can cause damage to the spinal cord, potentially resulting in partial or complete paralysis. These injuries are often caused by falls, rollovers, or collisions where the rider’s spine is subjected to significant force or impact.
Internal injuries: The force of an ATV accident can cause damage to internal organs, such as the liver, spleen, or kidneys. These injuries can be life-threatening and may not be immediately apparent following an accident.
Cuts, bruises, and abrasions: Riders involved in ATV accidents often sustain cuts, bruises, and abrasions from contact with the ground, branches, rocks, or other objects during a crash.
Sprains and strains: During a crash, the rider’s muscles and ligaments may be stretched or torn, leading to sprains and strains.
Ten Common Causes of ATV Accidents
There are a number of factors that contribute to ATV accidents.
Inexperience: Inexperienced riders may lack the skills and knowledge needed to handle difficult terrain, operate the ATV safely, or react appropriately to unexpected situations, increasing the risk of accidents. Administrative Code Sec. 551A.032 requires anyone younger than 14 who is operating an ATV on public land to be accompanied y a parent or guardian or someone authorized by the parent or guardian. The Orthopaedic Trauma Association and the Pediatric Orthopaedic Society of North America recommend children under 12 not operate ATVs, and that children 12-16 should only use ATVs with the supervision of an adult.
Speed: Excessive speed can reduce a rider’s ability to react to obstacles, navigate turns, or maintain control of the ATV, leading to accidents. ATVs can travel up to 50-90 miles per hour which will depend on a variety of factors including engine size. A safe speed for an ATV depends on the vehicle itself, the safety features used, conditions of travel, visibility, and the required stopping distance.
Alcohol or drug use: Operating an ATV under the influence of alcohol or drugs impairs judgment, coordination, and reaction times, significantly increasing the risk of accidents.
Terrain: Challenging, uneven, or slippery terrain can cause ATVs to become unstable, tip over, or make it difficult for riders to maintain control, leading to accidents.
Mechanical issues: Poorly maintained ATVs or equipment failure can contribute to accidents by causing a loss of control, malfunction, or reduced braking capabilities.
Risky behavior: Engaging in stunts, jumps, or other high-risk behaviors while operating an ATV can result in accidents and injuries.
Poor judgment: Failing to assess and react to environmental conditions, such as weather, visibility, or trail conditions, can lead to accidents.
Inadequate protective gear: Riders who do not wear appropriate safety gear, such as helmets, gloves, and sturdy footwear, are more susceptible to injuries in the event of an accident.
Riding with passengers: ATVs are typically designed for a single rider. Carrying passengers can affect the balance, stability, and handling of the vehicle, increasing the risk of accidents.
Age: Young riders may lack the maturity, strength, or experience to safely operate an ATV, leading to a higher risk of accidents.
ATV Accident Statistics
ATV accident statistics show a concerning trend in the number of injuries and deaths associated with these vehicles. On average, there are many catastrophic injuries and around 4,400 ATV deaths per year in the United States. In Texas, the numbers are also high, with numerous ATV injuries and accidents happening each year. This highlights the importance of understanding the risks and taking necessary precautions while operating an ATV.
How to Prevent ATV Collisions
Safety should be the top priority when operating an ATV to make safety measures prevent accidents. Here are some recommendations:
Wear proper safety gear, such as helmets, goggles, gloves, and sturdy footwear.
Be aware of your surroundings and avoid dangerous terrain.
Operate the ATV at a safe speed, considering the conditions.
Avoid carrying passengers on single-rider ATVs.
Enroll in an ATV safety course.
What to Do After an ATV Accident
If you’re involved in an ATV accident, it’s essential to know the steps to take. The following actions can help protect your legal rights:
Seek medical attention immediately.
Report the accident to the appropriate authorities.
Document the scene and gather evidence, including photographs and witness statements.
Notify your insurance company.
Consult with an experienced ATV accident attorney.
How Varghese Summersett Can Help with Your ATV Accident Case
We are dedicated to providing expert legal representation to ensure you receive the compensation you deserve. Our attorneys will:
Thoroughly investigate your accident.
Identify all liable parties.
Evaluate the full extent of your damages, including medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering.
Negotiate with insurance companies on your behalf.
Fight for your rights in court if necessary.
Call Varghese Summersett today at (817) 207-4878 or contact us online for a consultation.