All-terrain vehicles ("ATVs") have a range of beneficial uses, including: agricultural uses; bringing transportation to previously isolated communities; freedom of movement for those facing mobility challenges, especially across a range of terrains (ex. a farmer can survey his property despite a major injury); and search & rescue vehicles. However, the fastest growing sector of ATV users is probably the recreational rider.
Many people, including children and teens, enjoy the thrill of riding and exploring the beauty of Northwest Florida aboard an ATV. However, these vehicles can lead to very serious, even fatal, accidents. Our ATV accident lawyer is committed to helping the victims of ATV accidents in Panama City and throughout our region recover needed compensation, especially when the victim is a child or teen, following accidents caused by someone else's (person or company) negligent or wrongful acts.
Three young people became the most recent victims of an ATV accident in Northwest Florida.
WMBB reports that the accident occurred in Jackson County on County Road 165, approximately one-quarter mile south of 165-A. Florida Highway Patrol officials believe the Polaris four-wheeler struck a tree while travelling north on the road's shoulder, possibly after veering right to avoid a culvert. All three young victims were sent to Tallahassee Memorial Hospital. As of the WMBB report, 14-year-old Jordan Oliver of Greenwood was in critical condition and Tara and Jaelynn Shelton (ages 4 and 6 respectively) of Malone were both listed in serious condition.
In April 2014, the Consumer Product Safety Commission ("CPSC") released its 2012 Annual Report of ATV-Related Deaths and Injuries. As of the last day of 2012, the CPSC had received reports of 12,391 deaths tied to ATVs between 1982 and 2012. This includes 353 fatalities in 2012, 554 in 2011, 657 in 2010, and 718 in 2009. Importantly, the agency says that reporting is ongoing for the 2009-2012 period and the numbers are expected to rise as reporting continues.
For the full 1982-2012 period, 24% of all fatalities involved children under age 16 (2,944 of 12,391 deaths) and 43% of that group involved children under age 12 (1,267 deaths, about 10% of all period fatalities). Further, the report estimates that 2012 saw 107,900 ATV-related injuries treated in emergency rooms, with an estimated 25% of those visits involving children under age 16.
Much like car accidents, ATV crashes can have a range of causes.
Driver inexperience is a major factor, making it critical for prospective operators to receive proper training. Like with cars, driver impairment is also a major issue. Speeding, having too many riders on a vehicle (which often means more than one), and improper rider positioning can also increase crash risk, while safety gear can keep a crash from becoming a true tragedy. These factors may be relevant in an injury suit brought by a passenger, a bystander, or another rider hurt by the at-fault individual. Sellers or rental organizations may also be at fault.
Equipment issues are another significant cause of ATV accidents. The CPSC provides a list of product recalls involving ATVs, many of which directly involve threats to rider safety and evidence the danger of a defective project. Three-wheel models are especially dangerous, yet they continue to be in use despite assorted bans on their manufacture and sale.
If a product defect leads to an ATV-related injury or death, a product liability claim may be appropriate. If you or a loved one, including a minor, has been involved in an ATV accident in Panama City or the surrounding areas, call our firm. Attorney Pittman understands the various legal theories that can help an injury victim (or the family of a victim who died) recover in a ATV injury lawsuit.