The winding roads of California seem to have been created perfectly for all-terrain vehicles to navigate them. Who can resist a day spent exploring the majestic scenery of this beautiful state with the air on their faces and the smell of nature all around? But ATVs aren’t all fun and games. In fact, there aren’t too many legal forms of recreation that are more dangerous than these commonly used family vehicles.
The State of California’s parks offer residents and visitors access to the largest off-highway paths and roads in the entire country. It’s a temptation families and outdoors enthusiasts are excited to cross off their bucket lists every year. This recreation program is lucrative for local businesses and helps the economy overall, but at what cost when the rules aren’t followed?
The gorgeous coastal beaches along the state are a siren song for ATVers, the rugged paths through the mountains are begging for the more adventurous riders to conquer them, and the California weather is just about perfect all year. If you’re going to take your ATV out to explore, though, no matter where you are, you better know the rules and follow them, because your safety is not guaranteed.
Depending on where you are riding, the rules regarding who can operate an ATV vary. In California, public state lands have age restrictions you must abide by. No one under the age of 18 can drive an ATV unless they meet specific criteria, including:
What happens if you break the rules? Minors may get a slap on the hand, depending on the situation, but the adults in question are held accountable for all violations and any potential damages. Letting your minor child operate an ATV without meeting the above guidelines may result in consequences such as:
These fines don’t scare you? Well, the consequences don’t end there. Those are simply what can happen if you are randomly caught not following the rules by a law enforcement officer. The potential repercussions become exponentially worse if you or someone with you happen to be involved in an accident on the ATV. Now the effects move from a simple fine to paying for damages, treating injuries, and possibly even dealing with a fatality.
No matter how many safety classes you take, how careful you are, and how well you follow the rules, motor vehicle accidents are possible. With an ATV, the potential for injury from a crash increases since there are usually not seatbelts or an enclosed exterior to protect you when you collide.
Recent reports have shown that an ATV is more deadly than a motorcycle – and with all of the “Look twice, save a life” campaigns that have exploded everywhere lately, that’s a pretty hefty comparison.
Fatal crashes involving an ATV are 60% more likely to occur on a roadway than off-road, however. This is likely due to factors such as the increased speed on main roads, lack of protective equipment, and bigger risk-taking behaviors such as drinking, carrying passengers, or engaging in other risks.
The numbers paint a vivid picture of the need for ATV safety instruction and engagement, no matter how old you are:
The most common reasons behind these dangerous and deadly accidents include inadequate maintenance of the vehicle, defective parts or equipment, and driver recklessness, inexperience, or influence of an illegal substance.
Rollovers and collisions cause significant injuries, but tire blowouts are also just as dangerous. Rollovers consist of frontal, rear, or side flips in which the driver is either thrown or crushed by the vehicle. These are more common on paved roads, since ATVs, by definition and design, are supposed to be driven off-road.
Other accidents occur when defective parts, such as the brakes, fail to operate as expected. Sometimes this failure is due to a defect from the manufacturer, while other times it is caused by poor upkeep by the owner.
The lack of standard safety features in an ATV turns these vehicles into a deadly form of recreation – danger wrapped up in a pretty package tempting to those of all ages. When the responsible adults in question treat the ATV as a toy and fail to teach the minors around them about the potential dangers, those adults can be held liable for accidents caused when the minor was operating the ATV.
Sometimes an accident is simply an accident, but if you or your child were injured because of an ATV accident that was someone else’s fault, you may be able to get compensation for those injuries. As medical bills add up and the stress gets higher, this compensation for your damages can be just what you need to be able to concentrate on recovering rather than paying for treatment.
The attorneys at Hershey Law will work with you to determine who is at fault for the injuries you or your child sustained by analyzing the following aspects of your case:
Since ATV accidents frequently result in serious injuries, you may need an attorney just to recoup your losses from medical treatment and missed work or school. Hershey Law’s knowledgeable attorneys will guide you throughout the process as they put all of the pieces together to form your case.
Determining and proving fault is not always cut and dried, though. The sooner you head to your attorney’s office and let them get started, the better, since there are often critical time limits for filing paperwork that have to be dealt with.
Your attorney will investigate the accident for you to determine what caused it and who is liable to create your case. Once that is decided, more investigation is necessary to find the evidence to prove your accusations, analyze case law and create a legal strategy from the facts of your situation, work with the insurance companies on your behalf to attempt to negotiate a settlement, and guide you through every step of the way.
If you or your child were injured in an ATV accident due to someone else’s negligence, call or contact Hershey Law today for your free consultation to see how we can help you get the compensation you deserve for your pain and suffering.