All Terrain Vehicles Are ‘Not a Toy’ Says Michigan Accident Attorney Terry Cochran, They Are a Powerful Machine That Can Kill Or Maim
The problem is that parents may view an ATV as a type of toy, a step-up for growing children who have outgrown Big Wheels.
But an ATV is not a toy, it’s a powerful, motorized vehicle weighing up to 600 pounds and reaching speeds of more than 60 m.p.h. Even the best drivers often lose control and a collision or a rollover can happen quickly.
“If there is one product I could remove from the face of the earth it would be the All Terrain Vehicle,” says attorney Terry Cochran, senior partner of Cochran, Kroll & Associates, Livonia, Michigan. “An ATV is definitely not for kids but the kids love them and can’t wait to get on them. Worse yet, some ATVs are actually designed for children, which I find to be terrifying because it tends to be children who are severely injured in ATV crashes.”
All Terrain Vehicles, used for off-road riding, have gained enormous popularity in Michigan and elsewhere the last decade for recreation, rescue efforts, and quick, easy transportation in off-road areas. Nevertheless, ATVs have caused more than 6,000 fatalities in the past two decades, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission. The CPSC estimates that about one-third of all people involved in ATV accidents are children.
ATVs were introduced in 1971 as 3-wheel vehicles. The 3-wheelers caused so many rollovers and injuries that the U.S. Justice Department filed a lawsuit alleging that ATVs and their manufacturers violated the Consumer Product Safety Act. As a result, manufacturers agreed in 1987 to stop producing 3-wheelers but did not recall the 2.4 million that had already been sold. However, there are still many extremely dangerous 3-wheeler ATVs still in use.
In 2003 alone more than 125,000 riders or passengers of ATVs were taken to the emergency room. Of those injured, 38,600 were children younger than age 16. With these powerfully fast vehicles, the inclination to take unnecessary risks is the cause of many of these injuries.
“A young girl, age 10 or 11, involved in an ATV accident in mid Michigan in 2006 broke her neck and died,” says Cochran. “It was a rollover accident and the cause was a combination of inexperience and a poorly educated driver not properly supervised by an adult. Ninety percent of ATVs out there are for recreational use and manufacturers have a responsibility to produce appropriate warnings and instructions and parents and adults must provide supervision to kids so these tragic accidents don’t happen.”
The most common injuries associated with ATV crashes are to the head, face and spine – skull fractures, facial fractures, brain injuries, coma, paralysis and spinal cord injuries. Some kids have short-term disability, some have a lifetime of disability, and some kids die.
The highest risk age group by far is males younger than 16. Often these youngsters are riding without protective equipment and with more than one person on the ATV. Risk-taking and goofing around while riding is common. Young people represent nearly 40% of all ATV-related injuries and deaths.
The reasons why young people are injured so often include: No helmet use; carrying one or more passengers; lack of mature judgment; lack of adequate strength and coordination; and, the ATV is too big for their size and age. The American Academy of Pediatrics and The American College of Surgeons both recommend that children under 16 years of age not ride ATVs due to the high risk of serious injuries.
Cochran also wants to remind ATV owners that if an ATV collides with a moving vehicle they are covered by Michigan No-Fault Law. The operator may be eligible for No-Fault benefits if they strike a vehicle parked on the side of the road in “a manner that presents an unreasonable risk of bodily injury.” This is important because an ATV colliding with a car parked on the side of the road will be entitled to No-Fault benefits.
According to the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Michigan is fourth in the nation for ATV sales and registration and fourth highest in the nation for the number of crashes and deaths involving ATVs. In 2004 there were 160,000 registered ATV riders in Michigan and, in the same year, Michigan had 13 fatalities and 270 crashes.
Safety Tips for all ATV Riders are:
- Do not carry passengers. ATVs are designed for one person.
- Wear a helmet with eye protection.
- Wear non-skid, closed toe shoes.
- Wear long pants and a long-sleeve shirt.
- Do not ride on public roads or at night.
- Never use a 3-wheeler. They are unsafe and no longer manufactured.
- Attend an ATV driver’s safety course.
“ATV riders injured by someone taking unnecessary risks have a right to collect the damages,” says Cochran. “A lawyer knowledgeable about the dangers of ATV riding can help you determine whether you have suffered because of the negligence of another. If an avoidable accident has robbed you of your health, contact a lawyer as soon as possible. Only an experienced personal injury attorney can help you receive the justice that you deserve.”
The attorneys at Cochran, Kroll & Associates have the skills, legal knowledge and experience needed to protect people who have suffered personal injury or the death of a loved one because of an ATV accident and will seek to win payment for their clients’ injuries, expenses, and loss.
The Law Offices of Cochran, Kroll & Associates, P.C. is dedicated to representing individuals and families who have suffered catastrophic losses as a result of injuries, disabilities and death. The firm does not represent insurance companies or corporations but instead bases its practice upon representing individuals and families.
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