People in Wisconsin can enjoy a wide variety of outdoor activities, especially once the weather warms up after a cold winter. Many residents and visitors to the state make use of off-road trails while driving or riding on ATVs. Unfortunately, recreational vehicle accidents can occur, and people may be injured due to the negligence of an ATV operator, a motor vehicle driver, a property owner, or a product manufacturer. In these situations, injury victims can work with a personal injury attorney to determine who was responsible for their accident and their options for receiving financial compensation for their injuries.
Liability for Accidents Involving ATVs and Recreational Vehicles
Every year, hundreds of people are killed and thousands more are injured in recreational vehicle accidents in the United States. Wisconsin sees a significant share of these types of accidents. In 2020, it was the state with the second-highest number of fatalities involving off-highway vehicles such as all-terrain vehicles (ATVs), recreational off-highway vehicles (ROVs), and utility task vehicles (UTVs). Under Wisconsin law (Wis. Stat. Section 340.01(2g)), all-terrain vehicles are defined as designed and manufactured motor-driven devices that have a weight, without fluids, of 900 pounds or less, have a width of not more than 50 inches as measured laterally between the outermost wheel rim on each side of the vehicle, exclusive of tires, mirrors, and accessories that are not essential to the vehicle’s basic operation, are equipped with a seat designed to be straddled by the operator, and travel on three or more tires.
Determining who was responsible for a recreational vehicle accident will depend on the circumstances of the case. Responsible parties may include:
- ATV operators – A person who was driving a recreational vehicle may be held liable if they acted negligently or recklessly and injured someone else. For example, if a person was driving an ATV while carrying a passenger, and they acted unsafely and caused the ATV to roll over, they may be liable for the passenger’s injuries. Operators may also be liable if they collide with another person or recreational vehicle.
- Drivers of motor vehicles – Recreational vehicles may be operated on roads, and drivers should take care to avoid colliding with ATVs. Collisions may occur because of aggressive driving, distracted driving, drunk driving, or other forms of driver negligence.
- Product manufacturers – Accidents may take place because of defective equipment on an ATV or other recreational vehicle. In these cases, the vehicle’s manufacturer may be liable for injuries caused by design defects, manufacturing defects, or failure to provide proper instructions or warnings to users.
- ATV owners – A person who rents a recreational vehicle to consumers or someone who allows a friend or family member to use an ATV must make sure the vehicle is properly maintained and functioning properly. A vehicle’s owner may be liable for accidents that occur because of the lack of proper maintenance.
Contact Our Green Bay, WI ATV Accident Attorneys
Following an ATV accident, it is important to consult with an experienced attorney, as there are certain requirements specific to ATVs with respect to rentals and rules of operation (Wis. Stat. Section 23.33(2m) and (3)). In some instances, headgear may be required for certain ATV users (Wis. Stat. Section 23.33(3g)), and Wisconsin has limitations on ATV use near highways (Wis. Stat. Section 23.33(4)). To understand all of the legal requirements of ATV use and how those requirements could impact your potential personal injury case, contact Herrling Clark Law Firm, Ltd. Our attorneys will identify the parties who were responsible for your injuries, and we will help you take the right steps to recover financial compensation. Contact our Appleton recreational vehicle accident lawyers at 920-739-7366 to set up a free consultation today.