ATV Accident Lawyers

ATV Accident

While ATVs can be enjoyable and exciting recreational vehicles, they are still complex motorized machines that can pose a real safety risk.

When an operator is negligent or when the vehicle is defectively designed or manufactured, a fun recreational activity can quickly result in serious injury or death. This is because, unlike other motor vehicles, ATVs lack safety equipment like seat belts, airbags, or roll cages or additional crash protection. Unfortunately, tens of thousands of people are injured every year in ATV accidents.

If you have been injured in an ATV accident, you may be entitled to compensation for losses arising from your injuries, including medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering.

When you contact the Shelby, NC ATV accident lawyers at Teddy, Meekins & Talbert, our legal team will thoroughly investigate the circumstances of your accident to help you understand whether you may have a legal claim against for compensation for your injuries.

Call or message us today to schedule a free consultation to discuss your case and the potential compensation that we could help you recover if someone else’s negligence caused your ATV accident.

Common ATV Accident Types in Shelby, NC

There are several common types of ATV accidents, such as:

  • Accidents in which the ATV operator and/or passenger is injured by negligent operation of the ATV
  • Accidents in which a third-party bystander is injured by negligent operation of the ATV
  • Accidents in which a third-party’s negligence injures the ATV operator and/or passenger
  • Accidents caused by a design defect or manufacturing defect in the ATV

ATV accidents frequently involve rollovers, collisions with other vehicles, collisions with fixed objects like trees or rocks, riders being thrown from the ATV, riders suffering injuries from contact with the ATV’s mechanical parts, collisions with people on foot, and more.

Common ATV Injuries & Statistics

The most common injuries suffered in ATV accidents include:

  • Limb injuries, including bone fractures, soft-tissue injuries, and amputations
  • Head injuries and traumatic brain injuries
  • Spinal cord injuries and paralysis
  • Internal organ injuries and internal bleeding
  • Neck and whiplash injuries
  • Burns
  • Repetitive stress injuries

According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, there are an average of 650 deaths and 100,000 injuries every year involving ATVs across the U.S. In North Carolina alone, for the latest reporting period of 2014 through 2016, there were 45 deaths arising from ATV accidents.

Common Causes of ATV Accidents in Shelby, NC

As a motorized vehicle, safely driving an ATV requires care and experience. Without either of those, it can be very easy to have an ATV accident. Some of the most common causes of ATV accidents in Shelby, NC, include:

  • Underage driving – ATV operators under the age of 16 are statistically at a greater risk for an ATV accident.
  • Driving under the influence – Operating an ATV under the influence of alcohol or drugs can be just as dangerous as driving a passenger vehicle under the influence.
  • Driving with a passenger – Having a passenger on an ATV changes its balance, which is why you should not operate an ATV with a passenger unless the ATV is designed to carry a passenger.
  • Careless driving – Operating an ATV without due care or in a reckless manner can quickly lead to an accident.
  • Driving on the road – ATVs lack many of the safety features of other vehicles, and it is illegal under North Carolina law to ride an ATV on the road except to cross a road or highway.
  • Speeding – Excessive speed can cause an ATV to flip, especially when turning or hitting an obstacle.
  • Driving into hunting areas – Failure to wear reflective gear and visible colors in and near hunting areas during hunting season can lead to a rider being accidentally hit by a hunter’s fire.
  • Driving into fencing or barbed wire – Fencing can be especially difficult to spot when operating an ATV at speed. Striking fencing or barbed wire at speed can result in severe injury or death.
  • Crossing roads and highways – Always exercise due care when crossing roads and highways, including using headlights during darker hours. Failure to use care can easily result in an accident with a motor vehicle

ATV Laws, Guidelines, and Restrictions in Shelby, NC

North Carolina law defines an ATV as “a motorized off-highway vehicle designed to travel on three or four low-pressure tires, having a seat designed to be straddled by the operator and handlebars for steering control.” The law imposes various guidelines and restrictions for the use of ATV, including:

  • Age restrictions – Children under 8 are not permitted to operate an ATV. Children under 13 are not permitted to operate an ATV with an engine larger than 70 cubic centimeters. Children under 16 are not permitted to operate an ATV with an engine larger than 90 cubic centimeters. Children under the age of 16 must be supervised by an adult whenever the child is operating an ATV.
  • Equipment requirement – An ATV must have an operable brake and muffler system along with a working spark arrester approved by the U.S. Forest Service. If carrying a passenger, the ATV must have been designed to carry passengers. If operating an ATV on public land, all persons on the ATV must be wearing helmets and eye protection. If riding after sunset or before sunrise or in limited visibility, the ATV must be equipped with an illuminated headlamp and taillamp.
  • Use restriction – ATVs are not permitted on any public street, road, or highway except to cross streets, roads, or highways. You are not permitted to operate ATVs on National Forest roads, since the U.S. Forest Service enforces state motor vehicle laws. You are not permitted to operate ATVs off of designated trails when riding in National Forests.
  • Other requirements – If an ATV operator was born after January 1, 1990, he or she is required to pass an approved safety class and obtain a certificate of completion. It is unlawful to operate an ATV in a manner that damages or destroys public or private property, including damaging trees, crops, or land belonging to another person or entity. It is unlawful to operate an ATV in a carelessly or recklessly, or under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

ATV Insurance Requirements

Because North Carolina does not require ATVs to be registered with the DMV and because they cannot be driven on public roads, it is not necessary to obtain insurance to operate an ATV.

Establishing Negligence in an ATV Accident

When an ATV accident is caused by the operator, establishing negligence is similar to a typical car accident case. It is necessary to establish the standard of care by which the operator was required to operate the ATV and to show how the operator’s conduct fell below this standard of care and how it caused injury and compensable damages to the injured party.

If the operator does not own the vehicle, it may also be possible to assert a negligent entrustment claim against the owner of the ATV. A negligent entrustment claim is more likely to be successful if the operator lacked training and experience to operate the ATV or if the operator was an unsupervised minor or operating an ATV that he or she was not permitted by law to operate.

When an accident is caused by a malfunction, it may be possible to demonstrate that the accident was caused by a design defect (and therefore common to all examples of the same design) or a manufacturing defect (limited to the particular ATV or a specific production run of ATVs).

In these cases, it is often necessary to retain engineering experts to offer an opinion as to how the vehicle was defective and how the manufacturer was negligent in allowing the defective ATV to go to market or failed to adequately warn consumers of dangers in the ATV’s use or provide adequate instructions for use.

Contact Teddy, Meekins & Talbert After an ATV Accident in Shelby, NC

If you or a loved one have been injured in an ATV accident caused by someone else’s negligence, you may be entitled to compensation for your damages.

Contact Teddy, Meekins & Talbert today to schedule a free consultation with one of our experienced Shelby, NC ATV accident attorneys to discuss your legal rights and options. Learn more about how our firm can provide you with the knowledgeable representation and individualized attention you need and deserve.

About Teddy, Meekins & Talbert

The law office of Teddy, Meekins & Talbert is located in Shelby, N.C. approximately 40 miles west of Charlotte, N.C. Our mission is to provide aggressive, innovative, and passionate representation for people who are often in the midst of stress and anxiety associated with legal problems.

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