Quad bikes, or all-terrain vehicles (ATVs), are motorized vehicles with three to four wheels that weigh around a quarter of a ton. Numerous quad accidents are either the fault of operator error or equipment failure.
ATVs are used for work and recreation. They are considered to be very heavy because they weigh up to ¼ of a ton and may reach speeds of up to 55 MPH.
Because an ATV is considerably top-heavy, the chances of rolling it over are much higher as compared to most other vehicles. The chance of a rollover combined with the vehicle’s weight causes many accidents every year.
According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), ATV accidents cause 700 deaths and injure 135,000 individuals every year. For legal purposes, to be considered an accident, an ATV accident must result in the following:
- Property damage;
- Injury, or
Usually, the driver of the ATV is responsible for the accident. Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) are the injuries that are most commonly associated with ATV accidents.
Examples of TBIs include, but are not limited to:
- A permanent concussion;
- Neurologic injury and disorders;
- Spinal cord injuries;
- Neck injuries;
- Fractures; and
Dislocation of various bones and joints.
What Injuries Are Caused by Quad Accidents?
Quad injuries may range from minor injuries to death, including:
- Traumatic brain injury (TBI);
- Neck injury;
- Spinal cord injury;
- Chest injury; or
Who Can be Held Liable for ATV Injury Accidents?
The cause of the majority of ATV accidents falls into one of two categories, operator behavior and equipment failure. The operator, or driver, is generally considered to be responsible if they:
- Drove without proper training;
- Hauled a passenger or load against the manufacturer’s recommendations;
- Allowed children to operate the ATV;
- Drove on public roads;
- Allowed children to operate adult-size ATVs; or
- Drove while under the influence of:
- drugs; or
Some examples of when equipment may cause an accident includes failures associated with the following:
- Steering mechanisms;
- Suspension; and
- Lighting equipment, such as headlights.
The manufacturer of an ATV may be held liable if a defective or poorly designed ATV is sold to the public. However, a victim must prove that the defective ATV caused the accident to receive compensation from the manufacturer.
Product liability claims are discussed below. In addition, some states have no-fault insurance laws. This means that the claims from less significant accidents are minimized, and the victims will receive compensation more promptly.
These laws, however, also prevent many victims from receiving the compensation needed to cover all expenses associated with the accident. For this reason many individuals who have an accident in a no-fault state hire a personal injury lawyer.
Am I at Fault if Equipment Failure Caused My Accident?
No, an individual is not at fault if an equipment failure caused their accident. In most cases, an equipment failure will fall under the category of a defective product. A defective product is a product that causes injury to an individual as a result of:
- Faulty labeling;
- A design defect; or
- A manufacturing defect.
If any of these issues did not cause the quad accident, another party might be at fault, such as the:
- Designer; or
What Should I Know About Product Liability Claims?
If an individual is injured by a product that is considered to be defective, they may be able to file a lawsuit based on product liability. The legal concept of product liability includes rules establishing which parties are responsible for an injury and when a plaintiff has a valid product liability claim.
In general, the following parties may be held legally responsible for a defective product that causes injury:
- Distributors; and
Product liability laws recognize two types of product liability claims: claims based on defective design and claims based on defective manufacturing. Design defects are the way the product was made.
A design defect renders a product inherently unsafe. In addition, it exists before the product is manufactured. One example of a design defect would be a car seat that does not properly restrain children due to a design flaw.
Manufacturing defects are defects that result from the way a product is assembled or put together. Before and up to the point of assembly, there were no flaws with the product.
During the assembly of the product, however, it becomes defective because of a mistake or incorrect assembly, which renders it unsafe. Under various state laws, there are multiple legal theories under which an individual can recover for injuries caused by defective products.
Product liability theories of recovery include the negligence theory of recovery and the strict liability theory of recovery. The negligence theory of recovery provides that a defendant owes consumers a duty to make, distribute, and sell products free from defects.
If an individual is injured, they must prove that the defendant breached the duty noted above. In addition, the injured party will have to show that they sustained an injury that a monetary damages award can remedy.
A monetary damages award compensates the injured party for expenses that can be quantified, including:
- Medical expenses, such as doctor’s visits;
- Hospital expenses; and
- The cost of physical therapy, if necessary.
The strict liability theory of recovery allows an injured party to recover in certain types of cases. Because requiring an individual to provide precisely how a product manufacturer was negligent in their product design would be overly burdensome or even impossible for an injured individual, the law may allow a plaintiff to avoid being required to show negligence.
Under this theory, it does not matter how carefully the product was made. In these cases, the defendant may be held liable if a consumer suffers injuries.
However, plaintiffs in these types of cases must show that:
- The manufacturer sold the product;
- The consumer used the product in a foreseeable manner;
- The product was not substantially changed from the condition in which it was first sold; and
- A defect in the product is the reason the plaintiff suffered an injury.
What if My Quad Accident was Caused by Another Driver?
A quad accident that another driver caused is typically the result of negligence, a personal injury theory. Negligence is defined as the failure of an individual to use the care a reasonable, ordinary person would in the same or similar circumstances.
What Will I Have to Prove to Win a Negligence Claim?
A plaintiff is required to prove four elements to win a quad accident negligence claim, including:
- Duty: The defendant had a duty to protect the plaintiff from harm;
- Breach of Duty: The defendant breached their duty to the plaintiff;
- Cause: The defendant was the actual and proximate cause of the quad accident; and
- Damages: The plaintiff suffered injuries.
What Compensation is available for ATV Injury Accidents?
In order for an individual to obtain compensation for their AVT injury accident, they must show their insurance company or the court that:
- An injury was sustained; or
- The accident is because of the driver’s carelessness or a product liability theory issue.
In certain situations, more than one individual may be at fault for the accident. It is also important to note that, in certain cases, a damages award may be barred altogether if the plaintiff is considered responsible for the injuries they suffered from the ATV accident.
Do I Need a Lawyer for My Quad Accident?
It is best to consult with a personal injury lawyer if you or a loved one has been injured in an ATV accident. Your lawyer will explain the legal remedies that may be available to you and how to best proceed with your case.
As discussed above, showing fault for an ATV injury may be complex and may involve multiple parties. Because of this, having an attorney representing you is likely your best chance at receiving compensation for the injuries you sustained.