Driving recreational or all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) is a popular pastime in the Hudson Valley, especially in rural areas. As fun as riding an ATV can be, it can also be a highly dangerous activity, especially when drivers don’t take safety precautions or are driving under the influence. Although there are no local stats on Ulster County ATV personal injury accidents, it’s estimated that nationally, over 135,000 people are injured every year, and approximately 300-400 people are killed annually; ⅓ of the fatalities are children under the age of 16.
In 2018 alone, there were 81,800 ATV injuries that led to emergency department visits. 30% of those visits involved bone fractures and broken bones, and 22% involved contusions and abrasions.
There were between 13 and 15 ATV fatalities in New York state from 2012 to 2014. Local regulations on the use of ATVs varies widely in the Hudson Valley:
- In Kingston, riders can operate ATVs between 9 a.m. and 8 p.m.
- ATVs cannot be operated within 100 feet of a dwelling
- ATVs cannot be operated within 75 feet of a highway
- Speed cannot exceed 10 miles per hour
- Must not be operated in a careless, reckless or negligent manner
- In the Town of Poughkeepsie, ATVs cannot be operated within 700 feet of a residence at any time
- In the Town of Hyde Park, ATV use is prohibited on public property without written consent, as well as on private property (other than private property owned by the ATV operator or operator’s immediate family) without written consent from the property owner.
Who is liable in an ATV accident?
ATV personal injury accident cases are highly variable because the regulations for them differ so much from town to town, even in the Hudson Valley. If you were injured in an ATV accident because of another party’s negligence, give us a call at 845-600-0000 to discuss your options and set up a free consultation at our offices in Kingston or Poughkeepsie, NY.
The first thing to remember is that unlike with auto accidents, ATV operators do not carry no-fault insurance; in order to recoup any of the costs of an ATV accident, the victim would have to successfully obtain compensation from the responsible party.
There are a number of possible scenarios where the victim of an accident involving an ATV may be entitled to receive compensation for their damages, injuries, medical expenses, loss of wages, and other losses. In all of them, there are four critical components known as the Duty of Care:
- Was there a responsible party that caused the accident?
- Was the responsible party negligent, or failed to act responsibly?
- Were damages suffered?
- Was there a proximate cause, ie an action that set off the chain events that led to the accident?
In accidents involving ATVs, there may be a duty of care by the owner of the ATV, the driver, or the parents of the driver to ensure that whoever is operating the ATV is operating it safely. There may be a duty by the property owner where the ATV accident occurred. It’s also possible that the manufacturer of the ATV was neglectful in the design of the equipment involved in the accident.
What could contribute to an ATV accident?
- The driver wasn’t properly trained
- The ATV was being operated outside of the manufacturer’s recommendations
- The ATV was being operated against the law
- The operator was driving on a public road
- The operator was under the influence of alcohol or drugs
- The ATV’s equipment failed
New York is a comparative fault state, so even if the victim of the accident was partially to blame, it is still possible to recover damages in an accident.
Where does the compensation come from in an ATV accident?
It’s possible that the owner of the ATV or the driver of the ATV have some kind of off-road vehicle insurance. It’s also possible that the negligent party has homeowner insurance that could cover the damages. If the accident occurred on a commercial property, they may carry business liability insurance.