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New York ATV Accidents

In early June 2017 John and a few of his friends were operating their ATVs when one person lost control of his ATV, cutting off John. John ran into a tree and was thrown from his ATV. John was not wearing a helmet. As a result of the accident John suffered damage to his kidneys, a traumatic brain injury, broken bones. John spent 2 weeks in the hospital and faces months of rehabilitation. Each year over 400 people are killed in ATV accidents and thousands are injured. Over 10% of the victims are children. Most ATV accident injuries are head and neck injuries. Other common injuries are broken arms, broken legs, and injuries to the torso. Such accidents are almost always caused by negligence. If you or a loved were injured in an ATV accident due to the negligence of another person, it is important to speak with a New York ATV accident lawyer at the Law Offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates who will explain your options for pursuing a personal injury claim.

Negligent use of ATVs

While the rules for driving ATVs are significantly different from the rules for driving a car, the causes of ATV accidents are the same as car accidents: negligence. In other words, the vast majority of ATV accidents could have been avoided if more care was taken. The specific reasons for most ATV accidents include:

  • Driving on paved surface. ATVs are designed to travel off-road, on rough terrain. They do not perform as well on paved surfaces making it easier for them to rollover and for operators to lose control. About 35% of ATV accidents occur on paved surfaces.
  • Passenger. Most ATVs are designed for only one rider. While ATVs may have the room to fit another person, many models are designed for only one person. If another person is added, it may become more difficult to maneuver the vehicle. In addition, the passenger is more likely to falling off the ATV, or causing the ATV to become less stable and prone to roll over.
  • Inexperience. Some perceive an ATV as an easy to operate toy. Much like cars, ATVs can be dangerous if not operated correctly. Inexperience is often a contributing factor in ATV accidents. Although ATV safety training courses approved by the Department of Motor Vehicles are available throughout New York, training is generally not required to ride an ATV and neither is licensing. As a result, inexperienced people often ride ATVs, perceiving them as easy to ride, much like a bicycle or a ride-on toy. However, much like cars and motorcycles, ATVs can be quite dangerous, particularly when not used with care and skill.
  • Children. Because many people view ATVs as toys, they allow young children to ride them without proper adult supervision. New York law does have restrictions on children riding ATVs. Children ages 10-15 are only permitted to operate an ATV under adult supervision unless it is operated on property owned or leased by the child’s parent or guardian. Otherwise, the child must complete a Department of Motor Vehicles ATV training course in order to operate an ATV on any land where ATV use is permitted without adult supervision. If the child is under 10, then adult supervision is required, unless the child is operating the ATV on property owned by the parent or guardian.

    When a child has been injured in an ATV accident, the adult who wrongfully allowed the child to have access to the ATV may be legally liable. The adult may be legally liable even if he or she supervised the child’s use of the ATV or made sure that another person supervised the child without the consent of the child’s parents. If your child was injured in an ATV accident under such circumstances, contact an experienced New York ATV accident lawyer to discuss your options for ensuring that your child’s legal rights are protected.

  • Stunts. Many riders attempt stunts and unusual maneuvers with the ATV without being property trained. Examples of such stunts include riding on ramps, performing jumps, and doing wheelies. ATVs are not designed for such stunts. Furthermore, these stunts are sometimes performed by ATV operators who have limited experience. This can cause rollovers, riders to be thrown, and other serious accidents.
  • Defects. Just like cars, there have been many cases in which a poor design or a manufacturing defect led to accidents and serious injuries. In fact, the design of ATVs has historically been a contributing factor for many rollover accidents. Although manufacturers may argue that ATVs are now more stable and are not prone to rollovers, frontal, side, and rear rollovers remain a problem. When an ATV rolls over, the rider is at risk of being crushed.
  • Alcohol. It is dangerous and illegal to operate an ATV while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. When the operator of an ATV is impaired the likelihood of an accident increases.

When negligence is involved in the use of an ATV the result can be accidents with serious injuries. Victims are often children, pedestrians, and passengers.

Determining who the responsible party is following an ATV accident will be one of the first steps a New York ATV accident lawyer will take. For example, if the ATV itself was defective or malfunctioned, you may have grounds for a product liability claim against the manufacturer of the ATV or the manufacturer of one of the ATV’s parts.

Filing a personal injury claim

Injuries from ATV accidents can be severe. Because ATVs are prone to flip and rollover, one of the most common injuries is a traumatic injury to the brain. Other common types of ATV accident injuries include lacerations, broken bones in the knees, lower legs, ankles, feet, shoulders and arms, facial injuries, back and spinal injuries, quadriplegia, paraplegia, and internal injuries. Children are much more susceptible to serious ATV accident injuries than adults. A brain injury and other serious injuries can lead to a lifetime of disability, medical bills and financial problems. If you were seriously injured in an ATV-related accident that was caused by another person’s negligence, you have right to demand that the negligent person compensate you for the losses you suffered. Compensable losses include medical expenses, lost wages, lost self-employment income, lost benefits, and pain and suffering.

Medical expenses. If you are seriously injured in an ATV accident, you will likely seek medical treatment. In fact, even if you feel OK after an ATV accident, it is a good idea to seek medical treatment to ensure that any seemingly minor or latent injuries are treated. New York law allows victims of ATV accidents caused by the negligence of others to seek reimbursement for the medical expenses that resulted from treatment of the related injuries. Medical expenses can be quite expensive, particularly if you require ongoing treatment. To prove medical expenses, it is important that you are very careful and thorough when documenting injuries as you will need to produce documentation to back up your claim for medical expenses. Some typical medical expenses that you can claim in a personal injury claim from an ATV accident include: emergency room books, hospital bills, physical therapy bills, doctor bills, specialist bills, laboratory fees, surgery costs, and costs of prescription medication.

It is important to include in your claim for medical expenses, a demand for future medical expenses. Sadly, for many accident victims and their families, life will never be the same following an ATV accident because of the severity of the injury. It is not uncommon for victims to suffer catastrophic injuries, such as severe traumatic brain injuries and spinal injuries, requiring lifelong expensive medical treatment and care. The expense would be financially devastating for the victim and his or her family.

Lost wages and compensation. Loss of wages and compensation in a personal injury lawsuit refers to the loss of monetary income due to the injuries sustained in an ATV accident that was caused by another person’s negligence. You can demand that the defendant pay for your lost wages, including wages from work, commissions from sales, bonuses and other benefits, and self-employment income.

You can also demand payment for future loss of earnings. Future loss of earnings is a damage award that is based on wages and compensation that the ATV accident victim has not yet earned. This is type of damage award involves calculations that are speculative, and may require evidence from an expert to produce an estimate of how much earnings the victims will lose due to his or her injury.

Another type of lost wages damage award is “loss of future earning capacity”. Loss of future earning is the reduction in the victim’s rate of income in the future due to their injury. For example, if a victim suffers a brain injury in an ATV accident and is unable to work, then he or she can demand compensation for loss of future earning capacity based on his inability to ever work again and earn a living.

Pain and suffering. ATV accident victims are sometimes awarded significant compensation for pain and suffering. Pain and suffering compensation is intended to reimburse the victim for the physical and mental suffering experienced as a result of the ATV accident injury. The term “pain and suffering” is somewhat broad and may include a wide range of injuries and symptoms including pain from a head injury or whiplash, permanent damage such as a scar, limp, or paralysis, and emotional conditions resulting from the trauma. Proving pain and suffering can be difficult, often requiring the testimony of an expert witness.

Wrongful death. If a loved one was killed in an ATV accident, you have may have the right to file a claim for wrongful death. Wrongful death is a special type of personal injury claim that can be brought by a deceased victim’s personal representative or surviving spouse and children. Because of this claim, the family has the right to sue for compensation, and thereby get some justice.

Examples

10-year old Jason was visiting Royce’s house where he excitedly observed Royce’s father riding an ATV on the property. Royce’s father waived Jason and Royce over and asked if they wanted to ride. Royce had ridden the ATV many times and immediately jumped on and sped away. When he came back, Jason jumped on and started to ride. Being inexperienced, Jason quickly lost control of the vehicle and crashed head-on into a tree. He was not wearing a helmet. Jason was immediately rushed to the hospital. He suffered a severe head injury that left him deaf and with cognitive problems. With the help of a skilled ATV accident attorney in New York, Jason’s parents sued Royce’s father on behalf of Jason, demanding compensation for the losses Jason suffered, including lifelong medical expenses.

16-year-old girl Anne was driving an ATV around her grandparents’ property. Her friend, 17-year-old Laura, decided to jump on the back of the ATV to ride along with Anne. However, the ATV was designed for a single rider. As she rode across a particularly rough patch of terrain, Anne lost control of the ATV. Both girls were thrown from the ATV. Anne, who was wearing a helmet, suffered a broken hand. Laura, however, was not wearing a helmet. She suffered a traumatic brain injury. Laura filed a personal injury lawsuit against both Anne and Anne’s grandparents.

Contact the Law Offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates

If you have been injured in an ATV accident it is important to act immediately and contact an experienced ATV accident attorney serving New York. The legal staff at the Law Offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates is experienced in handling personal injury cases stemming from ATV accidents as well car accidents, truck accidents, and other types of vehicle accidents. Contact us at 1-800-NY-NY-LAW (1-800-696-9529) to schedule a free, no obligation consultation regarding your case. We represent clients in the following locations: Manhattan, Nassau County, Queens, Bronx, Brooklyn, Long Island, Staten Island, Suffolk County and Westchester County.

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