Charleston ATV Accident Lawyer
Having represented ATV accident victims for over two decades, Auger & Auger Accident and Injury Lawyers understand how severe the consequences can be — from financial or physical hardships or both. If you or a loved one has suffered an injury or fatality due to an ATV crash, we have a Charleston ATV accident attorney available for a free consultation.
The U.S. Consumer Products Safety Commission publishes an Annual Report of ATV-Related Deaths and Injuries, including a wide range of statistics, rankings, and infographics. The current data reveals that from 1982 to 2016, a total of 14,653 U.S. deaths were attributed to ATV accidents, with 3,232 (22%) victims under the age of 16. On average, about six children die each year in the state from ATV accidents.
Over this period, South Carolina sustained 198 total fatalities. It seems this number is high for a mid-sized state, but, as it turns out, another important statistic is at play here. You will notice in the following CPSC infographic that 32% of ATV fatalities occur on public paved roadways:
According to the Department of Transportation, South Carolina has 76,067 total public road miles (ranking 28th in the U.S.). This fact additionally supports the fact that ATV fatalities are primarily occurring on roadways that are not legal for these vehicles to be ridden.
It would seem common sense that ‘off-road’ vehicles would be more dangerous ‘on-the-road,’ and the practice persists. Perhaps a little more information on the subject will help dissuade the inclination.
Why ATVs Are Not Built for Roadways
First, South Carolina statutes don’t allow ATVs to be driven on public roads — but a Charleston ATV accident attorney knows that people tend to do it anyway. The message needs to be conveyed: Whether cruising through your neighborhood or venturing onto highways stretched across open lands — breaking these laws isn’t entertainment. It is a death-defying act that may result in fatality, dismemberment, or disabling injuries.
All-terrain vehicles are hard to control on paved roadways and prone to flipping over. ATVs have a high center of gravity with a narrow wheelbase, preventing them from being controlled while riding on paved roads. ATVs don’t have on-road tires nor come equipped with other lighting and turn signals required for driving on our streets or highways.
The manufacturers are well aware of these technicalities, which is why all ATVs have warning labels with instructions never to operate them on public roads or paved surfaces, due to handling problems or potential collision with other motorized vehicles.
Charleston ATVs and Your Personal Safety
In 2011, South Carolina adopted the All-Terrain Vehicle Safety Act (aka Chandler’s Law), which states that children ages 6 through 15 must ride with helmets and eye protection, cannot carry passengers, and be accompanied by an adult. They must also possess a safety training certificate showing successful completion of a “hands-on” ATV safety course approved by the All-Terrain Vehicle Safety Institute, and no ATVs are legal after dark. Those aged five and under are prohibited from operating an ATV.
For the safety of your children, yourself, and others, remember to keep your ATV activity off the public paved roads. There is a beautiful 40-mile sandy trail open to hiking, cycling, and ATVs just 1 hour northeast of Charleston, known as Wambaw Cycle.
It’s also important to find an appropriately-sized ATV if your children or teens want to use them. About 95 percent of kids who die in ATV accidents are on adult-sized versions, even though industry regulations specifically warn against this. There are five different ATV categories, and each carries a warning label stating the minimum age for riding. The label should be placed where it’s in view to a rider seated on the vehicle, but don’t rely on your kids to notice it – look for the label yourself and make sure you have the right type of ATV before letting your child ride off.
Here are some additional safety tips and best practices for ATV riding:
- Regardless of age, everyone who wants to ride should take an ATV safety course so they can learn to operate the vehicle properly.
- Helmets are also for everyone. An analysis of ATV accident data found that helmets reduce the risk of death by around 42 percent and the risk of head injuries by about 64 percent.
- A study on children and teens in ATV accidents showed that only 2 percent of those wearing helmets suffered a traumatic brain injury (TBI), while 8 percent of those without helmets had one. Helmets also reduced the risk of skull fracture from 18 percent to 4 percent and the risk of intracranial hemorrhage from 16 percent to 4 percent.
- Choose an approved and regulation-compliant helmet (easy to find in most sporting goods stores), and don’t forget goggles to protect your eyes. Even if you don’t have an accident, riding an ATV can sometimes kick up rocks or other debris that may fly into your face.
- Protecting your head is very important, but don’t stop there – you should also wear long sleeves, pants, gloves, and boots that cover your ankles. These help protect you from lacerations and other injuries in an accident. If the weather is warm, you can look for “breathable” or moisture-wicking pants and shirts to keep cool.
- Don’t carry passengers on single-user ATVs. Choose a multi-user model if you want to ride with a passenger.
- As with any other type of vehicle, don’t drive an ATV while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
- Ride at a safe speed and avoid distractions when riding – your phone can wait until you’re parked. Be aware of your surroundings and always watch for potential hazards or obstacles. If visibility is reduced due to rain or fog, slow down and proceed carefully.
Who Is Liable After an ATV Accident?
If you’ve suffered serious injuries in an ATV crash, you may find yourself dealing with expensive bills for medical care, physical therapy, accommodations, and other costs. At the same time, you may have missed days or even weeks of work while in the hospital or recovering at home. Often people wonder who is responsible for their accident or if they have insurance coverage to help.
Will Your Car Insurance Cover an ATV Accident?
It depends on your specific insurance coverage, but most standard car insurance policies do not cover the insured if they have an ATV crash. Your ATV accident attorney can help you sort out if there are any responsible parties or insurance policies by going through these or similar questions:
- Where did the accident occur? If it was on private property, the homeowner’s insurance policy may cover it. In some cases, a property owner’s negligence may have led to the accident. If their insurance doesn’t cover your damages, you may be able to sue the owner. For example, if the owner failed to warn you about a hazard on the property, like an unexpected and deep hole in the ground, which led to your crash, they may be liable.
- Who was driving the ATV? If you were injured as a passenger, it’s possible the driver’s negligence caused the crash, and they could be liable.
- Were you hit by someone on an ATV? In this case, the driver may also be liable for your injuries, especially if they were under the influence or otherwise driving recklessly.
- Who did the ATV belong to? If the owner allowed someone to ride the ATV who was untrained or too young, they might be liable. ATVs are not toys and shouldn’t be placed in the hands of someone who hasn’t learned how to operate them safely.
- Did a problem with the ATV itself contribute to either the accident or your injuries? Sometimes the manufacturer may be liable if a defective part or other issue with the vehicle led to your accident. If you think a problem with the brakes, steering, wheels, or another component of the ATV caused you to crash, be sure to mention it to your lawyer so they can investigate further. If you still have access to the bike, take pictures of it from various angles.
- In some situations, defective helmets or goggles may fail to protect you as advertised and contribute to worse injuries. When this happens, try to save the helmet or other safety equipment so an expert can examine it for flaws.
Common Injuries in ATV Accidents
ATVs don’t have seat belts or airbags, and in a crash, the rider may be ejected, suffering serious injuries. In other situations, the ATV may overturn, and the rider could become trapped underneath it. Sometimes the rider takes a fall and strikes the ground or another object. Many different kinds of injuries are possible, but here are some common ones we see in ATV crash cases:
- Traumatic brain injury (TBI) or concussion. As we mentioned earlier, head injuries can potentially cause severe and permanent injuries or disabilities. The best way to prevent them is with a helmet, but in some cases, a TBI or concussion is still possible. Some people may suffer permanent effects such as cognitive difficulties, memory loss, chronic headaches, altered gait or difficulty walking, other movement or coordination issues, mood or personality changes, seizures, and other neurological symptoms. Sometimes, these are severe enough to prevent the victim from returning to their job or usual activities. It’s important to know that TBI symptoms like headache or confusion don’t always show up immediately after a blow to the head. You may feel fine at first but develop symptoms a few hours later, so you should always see a doctor after a head injury, whether you feel all right or not.
- Back, neck, and spine injuries. These can also result in permanent disability, usually paralysis, when the spinal cord is affected. Other people may develop chronic back or neck pain that negatively impacts their quality of life. If you’ve been in an ATV crash and feel like your back or neck is hurt, stay as still as possible until the paramedics arrive. Trying to move or get up could worsen your injuries in some situations.
- Broken bones. Being thrown from an ATV can quickly lead to one or more broken bones, especially arms, legs, hands, and feet. In some cases, the ribs, clavicle, or other bones may also be affected. A compound or open fracture might require surgery and take months to heal, while even simple fractures could leave you in a cast for six weeks.
- Bruises and lacerations. Contact with the ground can also break the skin or damage soft tissue. In some cases, bruising or bleeding can happen internally, and may be very serious, possibly requiring surgery. Open wounds may need stitches and should be thoroughly cleaned to prevent infection.
Auger & Auger ATV Accident Lawyers
Please don’t hesitate to pick up the phone — it is imperative that you call an experienced ATV accident attorney immediately after a crash, so we can begin investigating the case. A team from Auger & Auger will be sent out to the scene to document the facts needed to prove your claim, including witness interviews and inspection of the ATV and any other vehicles involved. Insurance companies must perform their own investigation; however, they will concentrate on minimizing their culpability and exposure to liability.
While you are recuperating and healing from your injuries, our Charleston ATV accident attorney will handle your claim, helping you obtain medical treatment, recover lost wages, and fight for the maximum compensation to which you are entitled.
Call (843) 751-4690 today for your free consultation, with no fees due until recovery!