All-Terrain Vehicles (ATVs) are popular in Mississippi as a source of fun and transportation in some rural areas. Operating an ATV in Mississippi is entirely legal when done so within state and federal regulations.
It’s a fact that operating an ATV in the Magnolia State can be dangerous and even deadly. According to the state’s own Department of Health, Mississippians are 3.5 more likely to die in an ATV accident compared to the 2010 national average.
The Consumer Product Safety Commission reports that more 11,000 people died in ATV accidents in the U.S. between 1982 and 2014. Of those, more than 25 percent were under the age of 16. During that same period, 334 people died in Mississippi ATV accidents. In just 2014, there were more than 93,000 reported ATV injuries in the U.S., some with serious and catastrophic results.
If you or a loved one have been injured in a Mississippi ATV accident, or a loved one killed, you may be entitled to compensation for your losses. There could be defects in the ATV that contributed to the accident or some aspect of the terrain that is to blame. With so many potential complications involved with these types of cases, it is wise to talk to an experienced ATV accident attorney about your situation. A skilled and knowledgeable attorney can help you recover the full and fair compensation you deserve.
Common Causes of ATV Accidents
A typical adult ATV weighs as much as 600 lbs. and can reach speeds of 65 mph or higher. Some of the most common causes of ATV accidents include:
- Defective Machinery. When an ATV isn’t designed properly or has defective parts, serious accidents can result.
- Unsafe Operation. Many ATV accidents occur due to the driver’s negligence. Either they disregard rules, attempt unsafe maneuvers, or don’t pay attention to where they are going.
- Inexperience. Riders who are unfamiliar with ATV operation and its various regulations are more likely to be involved in an accident.
- Speeding. Excessive speed is another common cause of four-wheeler accidents. Incredibly, some of these vehicles can reach speeds as high as 100 mph. When a driver loses control of speeding ATV, the results can be catastrophic for them and anyone in the vicinity.
- DUI. Because these are recreational vehicles, people sometimes operate ATVs under the influence of alcohol and drugs. Not only is this illegal, but it can have tragic results.
Mississippi ATV Laws
Up until a few years ago, Mississippi was one of the few states in the nation that didn’t have ATV safety laws on the books. Fortunately, this has changed. In an effort to reduce ATV deaths and injuries, there are now several Mississippi laws aimed at protecting youth and all ATV riders.
ATV riders must now wear helmets, and underage operators are required to take a certification course. Even though a majority of ATV accidents happen on paved roads, it is now illegal to operate an ATV on public roadways because they don’t meet the safety standards of a motor vehicle.
ATV’s cannot be operated on public property and all operators must either possess a valid driver’s license or have completed an approved safety course. Fines for violation of Mississippi ATV laws are up to $50 per violation, which isn’t much of a deterrent for those who want to speed on public roadways or forgo other operational guidelines.
ATV Accident Injuries
Because ATV’s generally move at a high rate of speed and many operators don’t wear enough protective equipment, an ATV accident can result in extensive and devastating injuries. In 2009 alone, ATV injuries cost $1.3 million to treat at the University of Mississippi Medical Center’s children’s hospital. Common ATV accident injuries include:
- Traumatic brain injuries (TBI)
- Spinal cord injuries
- Chest and abdominal injuries
- Injuries to internal organs
- Fractures and broken bones
- Facial injuries, including lost teeth and eye injuries
- Burns Lacerations
Because ATV riders rarely wear helmets, the resulting accidents and injuries can be particularly severe. A traumatic brain injury or a spinal cord injury can require multiple surgeries and a lengthy rehabilitation period as well as ongoing medical care. In some cases, a traumatic brain injury may not be readily apparent just after an ATV accident, which is why it is so important to seek immediate medical attention for the sake of your health and to protect your rights.
Who is Liable in an ATV Accident?
If you’ve been injured in an ATV accident, you may be entitled to recover damages from a negligent party. These include compensation for past and future medical care, lost wages, pain and suffering, rehabilitation, property damage, and wrongful death.
The primary issue in these cases comes down to whose carelessness caused the accident. If fault lies with someone other than the accident victim, you probably have a personal injury or wrongful death case. If a child is injured on an adult ATV, the owner of the ATV could be at fault for allowing that child to drive the ATV without adult supervision.
Even single-vehicle ATV accidents could have some recourse if there was something wrong with either the ATV or the terrain. A property owner could be sued for not having hazards, such as cliffs and craters, clearly marked. The ATV manufacturer could also be at fault for delivering a product with defective parts that led to a serious accident.
ATV rollover accidents are still common but less so today since the U.S. government outlawed the manufacture of 3-wheel ATVs in 1987. That type of ATV was found to be defective in its design, and we still have 2.4 million 3-wheelers in operation in this country.
Get Help from a Seasoned ATV Accident Lawyer
If you and your family enjoy using ATVs in Mississippi, it’s essential that you follow all of the state’s rules and regulations to reduce your chances of an accident. If you’ve been injured in an ATV accident or lost a loved one, it’s important that you speak with a knowledgeable ATV accident attorney as quickly as possible. Contact an attorney in your area to get started on your case.