More than twenty years after a U.S government safety agency declared ATVs (all-terrain vehicles) and ROVs (recreational off-highway vehicles) “imminent hazards,” questions remain about the stability and safety of certain models. ATV accidents are preventable, though number in the tens of thousands.
As of December 31, 2014, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) received reports of 13,617 ATV-related fatalities occurring between 1982 and 2014. An estimated 700 ATV-related deaths occur each year, many of them preventable. ATV accidents are responsible for over 300 deaths in Ohio alone in the last 10 years. All-terrain vehicle accidents are responsible for hundreds of deaths just in the state of Ohio. Typical injuries may involve the vehicle’s instability. Certain models manufactured by Polaris Industries have safety risks that go beyond rollover accidents, including severe fire and burn risks that have injured hundreds of consumers.
In one high-profile ATV recall and accident report, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) charged that Polaris allegedly received information that their RZR model could catch fire, posing fire and burn hazards to drivers and passengers. Despite having this information that the RZRs contained a defect that could create a substantial product hazard and risk of serious injury of death, Polaris allegedly failed to immediately notify the CPSC of the defect as required by federal law. By the time Polaris reported the issue, it had received reports of 150 fires, including one that resulted in the death of a 15-year old passenger, 11 reports of burn injuries, and a fire that destroyed ten acres of land.
Following an ATV accident and injury, if the vehicles are found to have a faulty design or missing safety features, victims and their attorneys can file claims against Polaris or other ATV manufacturers.
Joe Lyon is a highly-rated Cincinnati Catastrophic injury lawyer and Ohio ATV accident attorney, with experience in serious injuries due to vehicle accidents.
Mr. Lyon represents plaintiffs nationwide in a wide variety of product liability, wrongful death and injury claims.
Despite manufactures’ assurances on safety, rollovers are the most common cause of an ATV-related injury. A rollover can be a frontal rollover, side rollover, or rear rollover.
Each type of rollover is equally as dangerous, and may result in the driver being thrown from the vehicle or being crushed. Among ATV riders killed in single-vehicle crashes in 2014, 64 percent involved the ATV rolling over during the crash.
Rollovers are especially common when driving an off-road vehicle on a paved surface. This makes sense because ATVs and ROVs are designed for off-road terrains. At least 900 deaths over a four-year period were related to ATVs being ridden on paved roads or parking lots.
ATV tire blow outs are also a common cause for injury. Any tire issue creates an extremely dangerous circumstance. Blow outs result in loss of control and vehicle rollover. Common causes of ATV tire blow out include:
• Defective design
• Incorrect air pressure
• Improperly mounted tire
• Improperly mounted rim
Other common causes for accidents include the following:
• Poor driver training
• Negligent entrustment by owner
• Poorly maintained trails
• Inadequate manufacturer safety instructions
• Brake failure
Deaths of ATV riders on public roads have increased more than nine-fold since 1982. These statistics don’t include most accidents, which occur off road. As of August 13, 2016, the Consumer Federation of America (CFA) said it has documented 335 fatalities this year involving what it calls “off-highway vehicles.” That represents a 10 percent increase over last year at this time.
In 2014, there were an estimated 93,700 ATV-related emergency department-treated injuries in the United States. Many of these injuries were quite serious and resulted in death. The most serious injuries included:
Polaris ATV Injuries
During 2001-2010, over 360,000 ATV riders under the age of 15 were treated in hospitals for ATV-related injuries. Overall, children suffer around a third of recorded ATV injuries. Children younger than 16 years of age represent 23 percent of the total number of reported ATV-related fatalities.
A number of Polaris Ranger and Polaris RZR ROV accidents have been reported involving alleged rollovers in which safety mesh and roll bars fail to protect riders and result in severe injury or death.
Recently, CNN reported that an alleged fire hazard prompted Polaris Industries Inc. to recall two models of recreational off-highway vehicles (ROVs). The engine can allegedly overheat, and the turbo system’s drain tube can loosen, potentially causing a fire.
So far, Polaris says it has received 19 reports of vehicles catching fire, resulting in at least six burn injuries. The report describes a “young child suffering severe burns.”
The recall includes nearly 13,000 vehicles, which is in addition to 203,000 recreational vehicles Polaris previously recalled between 2015 and July, 2016 due to a variety of fire hazards.
Consumers should immediately stop using the recalled ATV models and contact Polaris. If any owner or passenger has sustained any injury, please contact medical professionals and an experienced attorney for possible compensation.
Polaris Ranger ATVs and Polaris RZR models have been noted by consumer safety experts as particularly dangerous, and consumers risk serious injury should the ATV safety features fail.
Polaris is not the only ATV company that has recently issued recalls of its vehicles. Several of the big manufacturers are under fire for injuries sustained by passengers. Below are some large ATV outfits with recalled units:
• Arctic Cat
ATV Accident Claims
If you have had an accident with an ATV, please contact an experienced attorney. It is critical that the accident scene and vehicle in question are preserved for an adequate investigation.
Accepting cases nationwide, the Lyon Firm works with design engineers, bio-mechanical engineers, and accident reconstruction experts to evaluate accidents and determine the root cause.
In many past incidents, vehicles have been found inherently flawed or malfunctioning. If any ATV has a faulty design or missing safety components, victims and their attorneys can file suit against manufacturers.
ATV Fire Hazards Recall
Polaris Industries has issued an ATV recall for several models for a variety of safety concerns, including:
- In 2016, an ATV fire hazard prompted Polaris to recall their 2016 Polaris RZR XP Turbo and RZR XP 4 Turbo ROVs. The engines reportedly could potentially overheat, and the turbo system’s drain tube could loosen, leading to fire hazards. Polaris received at least 19 reports of vehicles catching fire, resulting in at least six burn injuries. The fire hazard recall included nearly 13,000
- Polaris Rangers: Polaris received 36 reports of fires associated with their 2014 Rangers, and made design changes to prevent the heat shields from becoming loose and falling off. Polaris allegedly manufactured and distributed approximately 93,500 units with a defective heat shield. After the recall, Polaris received reports of heat shields coming loose or falling off of the model year 2015 Ranger. Polaris again reported ten incidents of heat shield malfunctions, and five reports of fires. The CPSC and Polaris announced a recall of 51,000 more ROVs in April 2017.
- In July 2017, Polaris recalled Sportsman 570 all-terrain vehicles. Polaris received 30 reports of Sportsman 570 fuel leaks and four incidents involving a fire.
- An ATV recall involved the 2014-2017 Scrambler XP 1000 after Polaris received at least nine reports of the throttle release switch failing, leading to unintended acceleration, loss of control, and injury.
- In March 2017, Polaris recalled about 19,000 Sportsman 850 and Sportsman 1000 ATVs due to safety hazards. Polaris reported that the right side panel heat shield can melt, posing burn and fire hazards.
- Polaris reported that 2015 Sportsman 1000 ATVs are manufactured with exhaust springs that may stretch and damage the exhaust seal, result in exhaust leaks, and pose burn and fire hazards.
- 2014 through 2017 Phoenix 200 Polaris all-terrain vehicles were recalled after Polaris received nine reports of a damaged throttle limiter, including one report of throttle limiter failure that resulted in minor injuries.