A 16-year-old lost their life, and 2 other teens were airlifted by helicopter to an area hospital after their ATV crashed near Lewes Delaware on the night of April 6th 2021. In addition, 2 other teens were taken to a hospital via ambulance with minor injuries. The ATV in question is being reported as a John Deere “Gator” a side-by-side ATV with two passenger seats and a rear utility bed.
Police have reported that the Gator was traveling at a high rate of speed during the accident and the occupants were ejected as the ATV flipped over after failing to make a turn and striking a tree. This tragedy highlights an alarming fact – accidents involving ATV’s are all too often fatal, especially for younger children. And with the rise in popularity of ATV’s, these types of accidents are also occurring more and more frequently.
The Rise in ATV Popularity
While all-terrain vehicles used to be most commonly seen on farms and in rural areas, they are becoming increasingly popular with all kinds of outdoor enthusiasts, with people taking them on trails, through fields, and in off-highway vehicle parks. And Philadelphia residents have often reported seeing people riding them down busy city streets alongside other motor vehicles.
The global pandemic that upended everyone’s life in 2020 also caused a surge in new ATV owners, as people looked for new hobbies and ways to entertain themselves outdoors. In May of 2020, ATV maker Polaris, the number one leader in power sports, said they had seen a huge increase in brand-new customers, and numerous reports showing that 2020 propelled the ATV market to hit pre-recession levels unseen in over a decade.
How Dangerous Are ATVs?
While small all-terrain vehicles can be fun, The Consumer Protection Safety Commission reports that there were nearly 82,000 ATV-related injuries treated in the ER in 2018, and 26 percent of these injuries involved children under the age of 16. Between 1982 and 2018, there were nearly 16,000 ATV-related fatalities, with well over a quarter of these being children under the age of 16.
Although the numbers change yearly, children under 12 typically account for almost half of all the fatalities in ATV accidents involving those under the age of 16. The AAP reports that children are involved in about 30% of all ATV-related deaths and ER visits every year. More children die from ATV accidents than from bicycle crashes, and more than half of these deaths occur on public roadways.
What Kind of Injuries Do ATV Accidents Cause?
Despite their names, ATVs are not actually safe to drive on “all” terrains. Their high center of gravity and off-road tires will unevenly grab paved or gravel road surfaces, leading to a high potential for accidents when driving on paved public roadways.
Roughly 29% of ATV-related injuries occur on the arms, with the head and neck taking an additional 28% of the impact. The most commonly seen injuries after an ATV accident include:
- Head injuries/Concussions
- Spinal cord injuries
- Leg injuries
- Internal injuries
Staying Safe While Driving an ATV
If you are going to allow any child under the age of 16 go ride in an ATV, the AAP has created guidelines to help minimize injuries. These include:
- Always wear a motorcycle-style helmet, eye protection, sturdy shoes, and reflective clothing.
- Don’t bring multiple passengers. Additional people can make the ATV unstable and difficult to control.
- Take a safety training course before driving
- Stay off public roads
- Never drive at night
- When purchasing an ATV, look for one with seatbelts, roll-bars, and speed-limiting devices.
When To Hire an ATV Accident Attorney
Determining fault in an ATV accident can be extraordinarily complicated. You may need to file a claim against the owner of the vehicle, or if you were riding on someone else’s property and their trail was damaged due to dangerous holes or other defects, the person who owns the property may be held responsible. You may also need to file a product liability case against the manufacturer if the ATV itself was defective.
The team at McEldrew Young Purtell Merritt have seen firsthand how difficult the aftermath of a serious vehicular accident can be, and can help answer your questions about liability and fault with a free consultation. Call us today at 1-866-690-2848 or fill out our form here for a free case evaluation.