Dirt bikes are a special type of motorcycle used for off-road purposes, often for racing or other sporting events. The bikes are often fitted with features that make them ideal for off-road use, such as special tires and mudguards.
Dirt bikes are sometimes modified for speed, power, and other elements when used for competitive purposes. Some dirt bikes are used in extreme sports and games, where they perform extreme jumps and tricks.
Dirt bike accidents can occur in many ways and through many causes. For instance, they can include accidents such as:
- Crashing into another rider;
- Crashing into stationary objects, such as walls, poles, or trees;
- Accidents caused by the rider falling from high heights (often related to jumps and other stunts).
A dirt bike accident can often occur because the rider was operating the bike recklessly. In these situations, the dirt bike rider is at fault for their own injuries. However, dirt bike accidents can be caused by another rider. That other rider may ride aggressively by taking a blind corner at high speeds or engaging in other risky behavior.
Can I File a Lawsuit If Another Rider Caused My Injuries?
A plaintiff may sometimes file a negligence claim against another rider who they believed caused their injuries. Negligence is the theory of exercising the care an ordinary person would under similar or the same circumstances.
In other words, if the reckless rider engaged in risky behavior on a bike, and that risky behavior led to the accident, then the rider would be liable for the accident.
What Must I Prove to Win a Negligence Lawsuit?
In order to have a successful negligence lawsuit, the plaintiff must prove specific elements:
- Duty: the rider must have a duty of care to the other participants (such as following the safety rules for a race);
- Breach of Duty: the rider violated their duty of care (for instance, by bumping another rider);
- Causation: the breach of duty was the actual cause of the injuries; and
- Damages: the injuries can be calculated in terms of a dollar amount.
What are Injuries That Can Result from a Dirt Bike Accident?
Dirt bike accidents are often high impact, involving machinery and high speeds. Especially if there are other riders involved or a jump/sharp turn, the injuries can include:
- Cranial bleeding;
- Compound fractures;
- Broken vertebrae;
- Deep puncture wounds;
- Facial injuries;
- Lacerated internal organs;
- Severe concussions;
- Broken wrists;
- Broken ankles;
- Broken legs;
- Broken back; or
- Closed head injuries.
Do I Have a Case If the Bike Was Defective?
An injured dirt bike rider might be able to sue the manufacturer, distributor, or designer of the bike if a defect present in the bike was the cause of the accident. A defective product is any product that causes injury to an individual because of a defect present in the:
- Design; or
To have a successful claim, a plaintiff must show:
- The dirt bike had an unreasonably dangerous defect;
- The defect caused the injury while the bike was being used in the way it was intended by the manufacturer or designer; and
- The plaintiff had not changed or altered the bike since purchasing it.
A common example of a defective dirt bike is where there is a manufacturing defect with the bike’s brakes, making it unable to stop during usage. In these cases, the manufacturer might be held liable for the person’s injuries under a manufacturing defect legal claim.
Is there Anything that Might Affect My Damages Award?
In some lawsuits, the injured party’s own actions might affect the amount of damages they receive. Depending on the case, their damages could be lessened if their own conduct contributed to their injuries. For instance, their damages might be affected if:
- The injured person was guilty of the same type of conduct as the defendant (for instance, if both parties were speeding);
- The injured person did not use the motorcycle or dirt bike in the way it was intended; and
- The injured person modified the motorcycle after it was purchased.
Even if the part that is modified was not the part that failed, you can still be barred from suing for the defective part. If the failed part was moved during the modification or removed and put back on unaltered, it can still be considered enough of a change that would interfere with the integrity of the dirt bike.
Keep in mind that the amount of damages may depend on various factors, including state and local laws.
Are Dirt Bikes Safer than ATVs?
Four-wheeler crashes are 50% more likely to end in a fatality than dirt bike crashes. There is a growing trend amongst consumers who see dirt biking as being unsafe, so they instead buy ATVs. ATVs may seem safer than dirt bikes because they are far more stable and less likely to crash; however, research and statistics prove that ATV riding crashes are far deadlier than dirt bike crashes.
There are several reasons why ATV crashes may be more dangerous than dirt bike crashes:
- ATVs are very heavy and can crush the driver when in a crash
- An ATV is physically larger, and so there is a higher chance of the driver hitting on the vehicle instead of being thrown free
- Drivers of ATVs may go faster because they feel more confident on a stable four-wheeled vehicle.
While each of these reasons may contribute to injuries, the heavy rollover weight of an ATV may be problematic. A four-wheeler often weighs between 650 and 850 pounds.
Suppose a rider goes through a steep turn and the ATV rolls on top of them. Not only is the 800-pound weight of a metal ATV coming at the victim, but it comes with momentum and force. With that much weight and force, it would be unlikely that the rider would walk away unscathed.
Studies have shown that four-wheeler riders are far less likely to wear a full set of safety gear. Helmet use is far less common on ATVs than on dirt bikes because riders have the illusion of safety on four wheels. However, several studies have shown that this factor alone did not account for the far higher risk of fatality on a four-wheeler compared to dirt bikes.
Can Dirt Bikes Cause Burn Injuries?
Accidentally igniting a fire is a valid concern when dirt bikes are ridden through the brush on a hot day. A dirt bike can cause a fire in a dry, grassy field.
Different bikes burn in different ways. The risk of fire is vastly increased if the bike has any fuel leakage.
U.S. law requires dirt bikes and other motor vehicles to have spark arrestors. Spark arrestors prevent hot residue from escaping out of a vehicle’s engine and starting fires.
A dirt bike’s engine can be the hottest part of the bike. Dirt bike engines can get up to 1,200 degrees Fahrenheit. This is nearly hot enough to melt steel. Dirt bike engines can get hot enough to start fires.
Do I Need a Lawyer Regarding My Dirt Bike Accident?
It is best to contact a local personal injury lawyer about your accident. The lawyer will evaluate the accident and injuries and tell you how to proceed. Your attorney can provide you with representation and guidance for your case.