Greenville ATV Accident Lawyer

For over twenty years now, Auger & Auger Accident and Injury Lawyers has been representing victims of all-terrain vehicle incidents in Greenville County — and we fully understand how devastating the results can be for you and your loved ones. Our Greenville ATV accident attorney is prepared to advocate for your rights and fight for the maximum compensation you are entitled to, having suffered financial and physical burdens.

Why ATVs Aren’t “Road-Worthy”

The Department of Transportation does not regulate ATVs because they are not motor vehicles. It is up to the states to authorize their use on public roads or not. In South Carolina, ATVs are not legal to drive on public paved roads; however, our Greenville ATV accident attorney knows that not everyone pays attention to stiff regulations regarding operating recreational vehicles.
All-terrain vehicles have a narrow wheelbase and a high center of gravity, making them prone to flipping over, and preventing smooth control when driving on paved roads. ATV tires are not designed to grip smooth pavement, nor do these slow-moving recreational vehicles have standard safety lights or turn signals.

All ATV manufacturers label them with warning stickers, instructing owners to “never operate them on public roads or paved surfaces, due to handling problems or potential collision with other on-the-road vehicles.”

Why Kids and ATVs Are a Bad Match

There were 14,653 ATV-related fatalities across the U.S. between 1982 and 2016 and 22% of these victims were under the age of16. We must give this situation the attention it deserves.

Chandler’s Law was enacted in 2011 (aka All-Terrain Vehicle Safety Act) which defines ATV regulations for children. Children aged five and under are prohibited from any operation of ATVs.

Children from 6 – 15 years of age may operate ATVs if the following conditions are met:
● They must wear helmets
● They must wear eye protection
● They cannot carry passengers
● They cannot operate an ATV after dark
● The must have adult supervision
● They must have a safety training certificate in possession*
*The safety training certificate must show successful completion of a “hands-on” ATV safety course approved by the All-Terrain Vehicle Safety Institute.

Causes of ATV Accidents

Unfortunately, it’s all too easy to have an accident on an ATV, even at slower speeds. Because of their high center of gravity, these vehicles are easy to flip, which may have serious consequences for the rider. Here are some of the most common causes of ATV crashes, and what you can do to lower your risk when riding:

The driver was inexperienced or lacked proper training. No matter what your age, you should take a safety course before riding an ATV – even if you already know how to ride, brushing up your skills won’t hurt. You may also learn additional techniques to help you avoid crashes. The South Carolina Department of Health and Education offers instructions on how to fnd a course near you.
Speeding. Depending on the engine size, some ATVs may have top cruising speeds of 50MPH or higher, but that doesn’t mean it’s safe to drive that fast. Remember that an ATV is very different from a car or truck. There are no safety features like you’d find in a larger vehicle, such as seatbelts, airbags, or even car doors to protect the rider. In most situations, it’s safer to keep your speed below 35 MPH and go even slower in inclement weather or on more difficult terrain.
Failing to check the ATV out thoroughly before riding. Always look over the whole ATV for any obvious problems, and take it in for regular maintenance as often as the manual suggests. If the tires appear worn, have them replaced before riding again.
Riding too large of an ATV. If you’re looking to buy an ATV, check out the store’s sizing chart. Teenagers and smaller adults will be safer on an ATV that fits their size. If the vehicle is too large, it will be more difficult for the rider to control correctly.
Riding under the influence. Approach driving an ATV the same way you’d approach driving a car. If you’ve been drinking, don’t drive any vehicle.
Putting passengers on an ATV meant for one rider. This comes back to choosing the right size of vehicle for the situation. If the ATV is only meant for one person, adding a second may make it harder to operate the vehicle and increase the risk of crashing.
Riding on a street or on smooth pavement. Not only are ATVs designed to be driven away from smooth pavement, but they also don’t hold up well in a collision with a car. Combined with the lack of safety features, this puts the rider at a much higher risk of serious injury or death if a vehicle hits an ATV.

Who is Liable for Injuries in an ATV Accident?

If you’ve been hurt in an ATV accident, you could have multiple injuries, leading to large medical bills and possibly time away from work. Many people are unsure what to do about these damages. Is someone else responsible for causing your injuries through their own negligence?
In some cases, yes. There are a number of parties who might be either solely or mostly responsible for your ATV accident, depending on the circumstances of the crash. The best way to determine who might be liable is to contact an ATV accident attorney, who can help you sort out responsibility. For now, we’ll discuss some important aspects of liability in these cases.

The Location of the Accident and Liability

If your ATV accident happened on commercial property, such as a park or recreational business that rents out ATVs, it’s possible the property owner may be liable. In some cases, the rider believes they have no recourse because the business asked them to sign a waiver stating the company wasn’t liable for injuries on their vehicles. However, these waivers aren’t airtight and in many situations, the injured rider still has a case.

If the crash occured on the private property of an individual, they may also be liable depending on the circumstances. Here are some examples of situations where a property owner could have been negligent, leading to an ATV accident:

If the property owner failed to warn you about a hazardous condition. This could be a problem with the ATV itself, or an issue on the property, such as an unexpected hole in the ground, suddenly uneven terrain, equipment or debris lying on the ground, etc.
If the property owner is also the owner of the ATV, and they failed to maintain it properly. This may overlap with failing to warn of hazards – for example, the owner might not do any maintenance on the vehicle for more than a year. Then they rent the ATV to you, and you assume it’s been checked for problems and repaired regularly. If you then have an accident due to a mechanical failure that should have been fixed, it’s possible the owner was negligent.
If the property owner knowingly allowed a child to ride an ATV unsupervised, without a helmet or eye protection, or otherwise in violation of Chandler’s Law. Remember that under South Carolina law, children younger than 16 must have adult supervision when riding an ATV, and kids younger than 6 shouldn’t ride one at all. If your child was injured while riding on someone else’s property, it’s possible the property owner was negligent. However, you will need to prove that they knew your child was going to operate the ATV and permitted the situation. The property owner isn’t responsible if your child operated the ATV without their knowledge.

The Driver May Not Be Responsible in Single-Vehicle Crashes

You may think of single-vehicle accidents as being the fault of the driver, but this isn’t always the case. Although you can reduce the risk of an accident by driving carefully, sometimes crashes happen due to circumstances beyond your control. This may be the case if your crash happened due to a defect in the ATV itself, like a faulty part, or an error in maintenance caused by a third party, such as a repair shop.

If you believe you did nothing wrong, but your ATV failed to respond the way it normally does, it’s possible the manufacturer or another third party was liable. When this happens, we recommend you take steps to preserve the evidence as soon as you can. Find out where the ATV is now and request that no one makes repairs until you have a chance to examine it. Then contact a Greenville ATV accident lawyer right away. Our investigative team can look over the vehicle and gain a better understanding of what happened.

Crashes Between Two or More ATVs

In these situations, the accident is often the fault of one or both drivers, barring any equipment malfunctions. As with car accident cases, you and the other driver may have different perspectives on what happened and who was at fault. If this happens, avoid arguing with the other party and contact a lawyer right away. (If you don’t know the person, ask for their name, contact information, and any relevant insurance policy numbers.) We’ll investigate the accident, seek out video, examine your ATV, and track down witnesses. In many cases, we’re able to collect considerable evidence that the other driver was all or mostly at fault in the accident.

Responsibility May Be Shared

South Carolina uses modified comparative negligence laws, under which parties may share fault for a personal injury. For example, you might believe that the owner of the ATV is to blame for failing to warn you about a problem, while they insist the accident was your responsibility because you were driving. If your case went to court, the jury might decide one of you was completely at fault, or they might decide that you were 40 percent responsible and the owner was 60 percent at fault. In personal injury cases, a jury is allowed to assign percentages of blame in any way that adds up to 100.

In the above example, you would still be able to collect damages from the owner, because they were more than 50 percent at fault. Your award would be diminished by 40 percent, however, because that was your percentage of fault.

Insurance Coverage and ATV Accidents

Frequently people have questions about whether their insurance will cover an ATV accident, but it depends on the type of insurance you have. Most homeowners’ insurance policies don’t cover ATV accidents, so you shouldn’t rely on that for coverage.

However, you can purchase ATV insurance. Basic policies only cover your liability if you injure another person or cause property damage while riding your ATV, but you can add coverage for your own medical costs and repair work in the event you are responsible for your ATV accident. It’s important to read your policy carefully, because in some instances it may be void if you use the ATV in an unsafe manner. For example, many policies will not cover an accident if you exceeded the vehicle’s weight limit and drove with a passenger on a single-rider vehicle.

Auger & Auger Greenville ATV Accident Lawyers

If you or a loved one has been involved in an all-terrain vehicle collision, please don’t hesitate to make the call to our Greenville ATV accident attorney as soon as possible after the crash. We will send our team from Auger & Auger right to the accident scene and begin documenting the investigation — which will be invaluable toward proving your claim — including speaking with witnesses, inspecting and photographing the ATV and other vehicles involved, as well as the scene itself.

Insurance companies may also arrive on the scene to take notes for their own investigation, but keep in mind that they will be focused on minimizing their company’s liability. Auger & Auger Accident and Injury Lawyers are your advocate, and it’s our job to help you obtain medical treatment, recover wages that were lost or reduced, and achieve the maximum compensation to which you are entitled.

Call (864) 991-3532 today for your free consultation, with no fees due until recovery!