Polaris ROVs are a type of brand-name vehicle, and are used for recreation and sporting purposes. ROV stands for “recreational off-highway vehicle,” which indicates that the vehicle is designed and intended for off-roading purposes. These vehicles are often used for touring or racing on trails, and going up mountains. They are also used to traverse rocky terrain, as well as navigate hilly areas. Some people may modify or alter their Polaris ROV for faster performance, or for more power.
The term “ROV” is generally used to describe a side-by-side vehicle, either two or four seater, and is an example of a UTV. UTV stands for “utility task vehicle.” As such, a side-by-side UTV is a vehicle that has side-by-side seating, either for 2, 4, or more passengers. UTVs are commonly utilized on-site by businesses for accomplishing small tasks, such as transporting patrons or hauling small loads of cargo. Some of the most popular examples of side-by-side UTVs include golf carts and luggage carts as seen at airports.
Alternatively, the term all-terrain vehicle (“ATV”) generally describes a single-seater quad cycle type vehicle. ATVs usually feature off-road tires, roll bars, and high powered engines. They are used for sporting events, but also for recreational use. Because of their high power and speeds, they are considered to be more dangerous than side-by-side UTVs. Those who operate UTVs and other similar vehicles are sometimes required to obtain a permit or certification to operate them, similar to how an automobile operator would need to obtain a driver’s license.
What Are Some Common Examples of Dangers and Accidents Associated With Polaris ROVs?
Side-by-side vehicles have certain inherent characteristics which create various risks of accidents and injuries. While they are generally equipped with safety belts, ROV drivers and passengers sometimes choose not to use them. This is usually because use of the vehicle is very short-term, such as driving from one end of a lot to another. However, this can obviously increase the risk of injury should an accident occur.
Some side-by-side ATVs or UTVs are capable of hauling a considerable amount of cargo weight in their bed. Should an accident occur, the cargo and its weight could compound injuries and property damage. Additionally, roll-overs can occur if the cargo’s weight is not distributed properly, or if the cargo has not been properly secured.
Generally speaking, UTVs and ATVs do not have the same visibility factors or collision protection as regular vehicles. An example of this would be airbags. Because of this, a collision with a larger vehicle could result in serious injury or even fatalities, depending on the circumstances of the accident.
Finally, as previously mentioned, high-speed side-by-side ATVs and UTVs can lead to serious injury. This is due to their high speed, as well as the off-road location where they are driven at. Drivers may fail to be mindful of maintaining an appropriate speed given the conditions of where they are driving.
On April 19, 2016, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (“CPSC”) issued a recall of various types of Polaris ROV. This recall was due to fire hazards associated with the vehicles. The Commission received over 160 reports of the vehicles catching fire while consumers were driving them. This posed serious burn, fire, and explosion risks to ROV users. One death was reported in association with the Polaris ROV fires.
In addition to these risks, Polaris ROVs are also associated with accidents that are common to many off-road vehicles. Some of the most common examples of such accidents include:
- Flips; and
- Other incidents, such as the aforementioned issues with improper hauling of cargo.
These types of accidents can lead to injuries such as:
- Head and neck injuries;
- Spinal cord injuries;
- Broken bones;
- Lacerations and bruises; and
- Severe head trauma, such as a concussion.
Are There Any Legal Remedies for Polaris ROV Injuries or Accidents?
Most UTV, ATV, and ROV accidents will be categorized as either operator behavior, or equipment failure. These designations are used to determine liability and thus, appropriate legal remedies.
The driver is most likely going to be found liable for their accident under the following circumstances:
- Driving without proper training or licensure;
- Hauling a passenger or load against manufacturer’s recommendations;
- Allowing children to operate the vehicle;
- Driving on public roads; and
- Driving while under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or medications.
Equipment failure could be the cause of an accident if those failures occur in the:
- Steering mechanisms;
- Suspension; and/or
- Lighting equipment.
The manufacturer will most likely be found liable if a defective or poorly designed recreational vehicle is sold to the public. Plaintiffs must prove that the defective vehicle caused the accident, in order to receive compensation from the company.
It is important to note that some states have no-fault insurance laws. What this means is that claims from less significant accidents will be minimized, and in return, victims will receive their compensation more promptly. However, these laws can also prevent accident victims from receiving the amount of compensation that is needed to cover all of the expenses resulting from the accident.
Polaris ROV injuries and accidents may require legal action in order to settle the issues, and can involve legal theories such as negligence and product liability. A products liability claim involves the manufacturer or seller of a product being held liable for placing a defective product in the stream of commerce. Any party that is found to be responsible for any part of the manufacture of the product may be held to the same degree of liability as any seller.
In terms of negligence, the defendant may claim contributory or comparative negligence on the part of the plaintiff. Depending on state law, one or the other defense will apply. However, the general idea is the same; both defenses question whether the injured party is in some way responsible for the injury they suffered. In terms of a Polaris ROV, an example of this would be if the vehicle’s owner modified the vehicle to be faster.
In jurisdictions that recognize contributory negligence, any negligence on the part of the injured person is a total bar to recovery. Meaning, they get nothing. Alternatively, jurisdictions that recognize comparative negligence allow the injured person to still recover. However, the amount of recovery awarded is reduced by how negligent they were. So, if they were 20% negligent, their damages award would be reduced by 20%.
Legal remedies commonly consist of a damages award, which is intended to compensate an injured person for their losses resulting from the accident. Examples of such losses can include:
- Medical expenses;
- Therapy costs;
- Lost wages; and
- Property damage costs.
Do I Need an Attorney for Assistance with a Polaris ROV Lawsuit?
If you were involved in an accident resulting from a defective Polaris ROV, you should immediately consult with an area car accident attorney. Because state laws can vary greatly regarding personal injury and negligence theories, a local and experienced personal injury attorney will be best suited to understanding how your state’s specific statutes will affect your legal options.
A personal injury attorney can help you gather evidence to support your claim, speak with your insurance provider, and provide representation in court as needed. An attorney will attempt to recover a suitable damages award for you, when available. Additionally, an experienced attorney will likely be aware of any class-action lawsuits that you may join. Finally, an attorney will also be able to represent your interests in a court of law.