Though they offer a fun ride, larger side-by-side ATVs also present many potential dangers to operators and passengers. A collision involving one or more off-road vehicles can result in severe injuries and substantial losses. If you suffer injuries in a side-by-side accident caused by someone else’s negligence, an attorney can help you build a case to recover your losses and prove the other party’s liability.
What Are Dangers of Side-by-Side Vehicles?
Side-by-sides and other off-highway vehicles account for an estimated 105,000 emergency visits annually. Every accident has unique details that may impact how victims approach a personal injury claim, but there are several common risks associated with these vehicles.
Increased Risk of Rollovers
Side-by-side vehicles are narrow and heavy on top. Some models travel as fast as 60 miles per hour and seat as many as six people in pairs. Off-road driving typically includes bumpy terrain with sharp turns, compromising the vehicle’s stability. These and other factors can impact the severity of a rollover accident, including whether the driver and passengers correctly used the safety features.
Rollover accidents also increase the risk of a fire. Fuel may leak and ignite due to the engine’s heat. Victims strapped to the seat with a harness may struggle to free themselves in time to avoid severe injuries.
False Sense of Security
Over-confidence in the vehicle’s seemingly safe structure is another issue that may lead to severe accidents. A standard side-by-side vehicle has a windshield and roll cage. Some share other similarities with cars as well. However, you typically do not need a license to operate a side-by-side ATV, and the false sense of security can lead people to drive more recklessly or without safety gear.
Side-by-sides have a weight capacity. Workers using off-road vehicles to haul supplies risk tire blowouts or other mechanical malfunctions that could result in a crash. Exceeding the occupancy capacity can also increase the risk of a rollover accident and put undue stress on the motor, causing the drivetrain to fail. To avoid these mistakes, operators should know the weight and occupancy limitations the manufacturer lists.
Off-roading is typically a group sport. Side-by-side owners often ride in groups or take to the trails with their friends. Collisions with other vehicles can occur under many circumstances, but the most common cause is increased risk-taking.
Experienced riders generally take fewer chances behind the wheel than inexperienced riders because they better understand the vehicle’s limitations. However, given the often rough terrain and potential for losing control, a collision can happen any time people ride together.
Seeing side-by-side ATVs on a recall list is not uncommon. Typical manufacturing issues that could result in an accident include:
- Fire hazards from overheating motors or fuel leaks
- Braking system defects
- Mechanical problems with the vehicle’s construction
Often these defects go unnoticed until one causes an accident and someone suffers an injury.
What Injuries Are Associated With Side-by-Side Accidents?
What is a side-by-side accident injury? The types and severity can vary significantly. The most common injuries reported in emergency room visits for off-road vehicle accidents are broken bones. The extremities sustain more breaks than other parts of the body, but fractured ribs are also typical. Other common injuries include contusions or abrasions.
Rollovers and collisions with stationary objects or other vehicles are the leading causes of fatal side-by-side accidents. However, the risk for a severe head or traumatic brain injury is substantially higher in accidents where the victims did not wear helmets or other safety gear. Even a minor accident can cause painful injuries that may warrant a personal injury claim.
Who Is Liable for a Side-by-Side Accident?
In general, there are three potentially liable parties in a side-by-side accident:
- The driver: Reckless driving, ignoring safety precautions and violating road restrictions are common ways a driver could cause an accident.
- Property owners: If a property owner allows side-by-sides on their land without alerting drivers to potential hazards or fails to keep the property reasonably safe for lawful visitors, they could be responsible for an accident and face a premises liability claim.
- Employers: If a company uses side-by-side ATVs for business operations, it could be liable for injuries resulting from failure to maintain the vehicle or adequately train operators.
Determining who is at fault for a side-by-side accident is essential to a personal injury case. If you know who is responsible for your injuries, you can pursue compensation for the damages they caused.
What Damages Can You Recover from a Side-by-Side Accident Lawsuit in Arizona?
If someone else caused the accident that resulted in your injuries, Arizona law allows you to seek compensation for your losses through a personal injury claim or lawsuit. The available damages can vary from case to case and depend on the severity of your injuries and losses. The court allows you to seek economic and non-economic damages.
Economic losses include:
- The cost of medical bills, including your current losses and expenses related to ongoing care
- The loss of income resulting from missing work during your recovery or loss of earning capacity caused by permanent disability
- The cost of repairing or replacing your damaged property
- The cost of any replacement services needed during recovery, including in-home assistance, childcare or transportation
The non-economic damages from a side-by-side accident reflect the impact on your mental and emotional health. For example, you can claim pain and suffering, mental anguish and loss of enjoyment in life. When you hire an experienced personal injury attorney to handle your claim, we will investigate the accident and the evidence necessary to prove the other party’s liability and support your right to compensation for damages.
What Is a Side-by-Side Accident Lawyer, and How Can One Help You?
If you suffered injuries in a side-by-side accident caused by someone else, our legal team can help. MDK Law Group has experience representing victims and recovering the damages they need to restore their lives after a devastating accident. With decades of trial experience, we understand what it takes to argue a case for compensation to fruition. Contact MDK Law Group to schedule your free consultation today.