All-terrain vehicles (ATVs) are popular throughout the United States, especially in the upper Midwest. Tens of thousands of Wisconsinites and Minnesotans take to the outdoors on ATVs and similar off-highway vehicles (OHVs) every year. It’s a great way to explore the wilderness, access remote hunting grounds, and navigate the furthest reaches of our states.
But riding ATVs and OHVs also comes with accident risks. After declining in the late 2010s, ATV accidents began to rise again nationally and in Minnesota and Wisconsin, resulting in numerous preventable injuries and fatalities.
Here’s a review of the latest ATV accident statistics and how an experienced ATV accident lawyer can help you secure compensation for the trauma you suffered in an ATV crash.
Nationwide ATV Accident Statistics
The federal Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) collects and studies data on ATV and OHV accidents throughout the United States.
Here are some highlights of the findings contained in the Commission’s most recent report on ATV and OHV accident deaths and injuries nationwide:
- 2,156 fatal incidents involving ATVs or OHVs occurred in the United States over a recent three-year period.
- Those incidents led to the deaths of 2,211 individuals, 1,591 of whom were ATV drivers or passengers (the remainder constituting riders of other classes of OHVs).
- Minnesota and Wisconsin each reported 58 fatal ATV or OHV incidents during that period, a higher-than-average toll than their respective populations.
- Rollovers and collisions (with other vehicles and fixed objects like trees) accounted for many fatal ATV and OHV accidents.
- Over a recent five-year period, U.S. hospital emergency departments treated 526,900 injuries (ranging from minor to fatal) stemming from ATV and OHV accidents, for an average of roughly 105,400 injuries per year.
- Young people constituted nearly half (49 percent) of all ATV and OHV accident injury victims over those five years, with riders under age 16 suffering 26 percent of the injuries and those ages 16 to 24 the remaining 23 percent.
- In the most recent reporting year, U.S. emergency department-treated injuries from ATV and OHV accidents hit a three-year high of 112,300 after having notched declines in the previous two years.
- ATV and OHV accident injury hospitalizations also hit a high in the most recent year for which we have statistics, reflecting a rise in severe injuries.
In summary, ATV and OHV accidents take a heavy toll annually in the United States, and after a brief decline several years ago, they began to climb again.
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Recent Minnesota ATV Accident Data
The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (MDNR) oversees the regulation of ATVs in the state and publishes annual statistics on ATV accident injuries and fatalities. The Department reports fatality data for two classes of ATVs: Class I (machines with a total width of 50 inches or less) and Class II (machines over 50 inches but not more than 65 inches in width).
Here are some highlights from recent years’ reporting:
- Over a recent ten-year period, Minnesota averaged 220 ATV accidents, 17 ATV accident deaths, and 235 ATV accident injuries annually.
- Counties with high accident totals included Itasca, Cass, Pine, Aitkin, Hubbard, Crow Wing, Otter Tail, Kanabec, Stearns, and Becker Counties.
- The most recent reporting year saw a higher-than-average total of fatal ATV accidents, with 21 riders killed (13 on Class I machines and eight on Class II).
Because of the high number of ATV accidents that leave young riders injured, MDNR implemented a safety training regime targeting youth operators. By regulation, all riders born after July 1, 1987, must complete approved ATV safety training. Riders over 16 can satisfy this requirement by taking an online course, whereas riders ages 10-15 must complete both the online course and a hands-on skills class. All ATV operators under age 18 must also wear an approved helmet.
Recent Wisconsin ATV Accident Data
The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (WDNR) regulates ATV use in Wisconsin. Like MDNR, WDNR publishes annual injury and fatality data relating to ATV and utility terrain vehicle (UTV) accidents.
Below are the highlights from its recent annual reports.
- Wisconsin has averaged 201 ATV and UTV accidents per year over the past decade, resulting in an average of 27 deaths and 197 injuries annually.
- Annual deaths and injuries in those accidents show a steady upward trend, with dramatic increases in both categories in the most recent reporting years.
- ATV/UTV accidents (292), fatalities (47), and injuries (311) each reached a ten-year high in the most recent reporting year, representing a significant reversal from improved totals in the mid-2010s.
- Most fatalities in Wisconsin ATV crashes involved riders who were not wearing helmets.
- In the most recent reporting year, an overwhelming majority of injury-causing and fatal ATV accidents in Wisconsin occurred on (mostly paved) public roads, which aligns with historical ATV safety data reported by the CPSC.
Like Minnesota, Wisconsin ATV regulations require all ATV operators born on or after January 1, 1988, to obtain an ATV safety certificate by completing an online or classroom course. Helmet use is also required for all ATV operators under age 18 in Wisconsin.
Many ATV Accident Victims Have Rights to Compensation
As ATV accidents increase, so do injuries and fatalities related to ATV use. Injured victims of those crashes and families of riders who tragically died in them may demand compensation for their losses.
Compensation for Injuries
You can hold anyone whose dangerous or reckless conduct leads to an injury-causing or fatal ATV accident liable for:
- Your medical expenses, including costs of emergency care, hospitalization, surgeries, rehabilitation, and medication;
- Your other accident and injury-related expenditures, such as the cost of repairing or replacing damaged property or of hiring help with everyday activities during the healing process;
- The income you did not earn while missing work because of an injury;
- The value of vacation days, sick leave, and other paid time off you used while recovering from an injury;
- The future income an ATV accident injury will prevent you from earning;
- Your physical pain, emotional suffering, inconvenience, loss of independence, and diminished quality of life.
- In some cases, punitive damages.
The potential damages for injured victims vary. Numerous factors affect the compensation, including the nature and severity of the victim’s injuries, the strength of the victim’s case, the skills and reputation of the victim’s lawyer, and the amount of insurance or other financial assets available to pay the victim.
Compensation for Wrongful Death
After a fatal ATV accident, the at-fault party may owe wrongful death damages to the victim’s surviving spouse and/or family members.
Those damages can include:
- ATV accident-related medical and non-medical costs incurred by the victim before death.
- The victim’s pain and suffering before death.
- Loss of the victim’s income, employment benefits, services, or other financial support of a spouse, child, or other dependents.
- A child, parent, or spouse’s loss of the victim’s companionship, guidance, or consortium.
- A surviving spouse’s or family member’s pain and suffering due to the death.
- Funeral and burial expenses.
- In some cases, punitive damages.
The damages potentially payable depends on the circumstances of each case. They can also depend on the particularities of the state law where the fatal ATV accident happened.
Parties Who May Owe Compensation to ATV Accident Victims
Numerous parties can face legal and financial liability for an ATV accident. The specific facts and circumstances of an ATV crash dictate that liability.
In any given case, any of the following parties might owe money damages to injured victims or grieving families:
- The driver of the ATV that crashed;
- The driver of another motor vehicle that collided with an ATV;
- An ATV passenger whose dangerous behavior triggered a crash;
- A land owner who failed to warn ATV riders of unreasonably dangerous hazards on land or trails offered for private ATV use; or
- An ATV manufacturer that produced defective products that failed under normal use, causing an accident.
These are merely examples. The most reliable way to learn who may owe you compensation for an ATV accident and your potential award is to consult with an experienced ATV accident attorney in your area.
How an ATV Accident Lawyer Can Help
Lawyers for injured ATV accident victims and families of deceased riders work to secure compensation for the harm a crash causes. Their job is to represent their clients’ interests, advocate for clients’ rights in court and out, and obtain the maximum amount of damages allowable under applicable law.
If you or someone you love suffered injuries in an ATV crash, seek the advice of a seasoned ATV accident injury lawyer.
Hiring a skilled attorney who understands ATV laws, regulations, and riding culture can give you a strong chance of winning your case by:
- Investigating the root causes of your ATV accident by collecting and examining evidence, interviewing witnesses, and visiting remote crash sites;
- Identifying all parties who may owe you damages through their own or someone else's unreasonably dangerous conduct;
- Planning a legal strategy calibrated to meet your needs and priorities;
- Answering your questions and advising you about decisions affecting your rights;
- Preparing and filing demands for compensation in court or with insurance companies;
- Negotiating with insurance companies and defense lawyers on your behalf;
- Serving as your representative in dealings with insurance adjusters, investigators, and the media;
- Appearing on your behalf in court and arguing your case to a judge and jury at trial;
- Collecting money owed to you through settlements, judgments, or jury awards.
ATV accident lawyers cannot guarantee your results. But the right attorney for your case should have a strong reputation among fellow lawyers and former clients, a track record of successful results in similar cases, and a commitment to providing sterling legal services with a personal touch.
Quick Action Matters After an ATV Accident
Do not wait to seek legal advice after suffering injuries in an ATV crash. The sooner you have a skilled lawyer on your side, the better your chances of securing the compensation owed to you by the parties at-fault and their insurers. Conversely, the longer you delay connecting with an attorney, the higher your risk of losing valuable rights.
Every state limits your ability to take legal action seeking compensation. These statutes of limitation vary in duration from state to state, but the consequences of ignoring them are the same everywhere. If you fail to take the steps necessary to preserve and assert your rights within legal deadlines, you can permanently lose your right to payment for your injuries.
Retaining an experienced attorney immediately after your crash protects against missing a critical deadline in your ATV accident case. It also gives the attorney the strongest chance of securing evidence to support your case before it goes missing or fades from witness memories. And it gives you access to a seasoned advisor who has counseled many people in your situation and who can assist you during this difficult period of your life.
Attorneys also protect you against unwanted intrusions on your privacy. With a skilled ATV accident lawyer in your corner, you don’t need to worry about fielding calls from aggressive insurance representatives. Leaving those interactions to your lawyer gives you the time and space to heal.
Contact an ATV Accident Lawyer Today
If you or someone you love recently suffered injuries in an ATV accident, you are not alone. ATV crashes continue to rise across the country, especially in Minnesota and Wisconsin.
You do not need to bear the burden of your injuries and losses alone. An experienced personal injury attorney can help you pursue the compensation you need to pay for your care, replace lost income, and get back to living your life. Contact an ATV accident attorney in your area today to learn more.