We all love excitement, adventure, and sometimes high-risk activities. One of the most exciting “toys” is an all-terrain vehicle or ATV. It’s undeniably thrilling to drive or ride in an ATV, but it can also be quite dangerous. There are numerous reasons for ATV accidents including:
- Driving on pavement
- Exceeding the manufacturer’s recommended passenger limit
- Colliding with other ATV’s
- Climbing sharp inclines
- Rolling the ATV
- Colliding with trees
- Operating under the influence
Experts recommend drivers of ATVs be at least 16 and that they complete a professional safety course.
Alabama is one of ten states the council cites for a high number of ATV accidents. Despite the high number of accidents in Alabama, there is no age requirement for operating an all-terrain vehicle. There is also no registration or insurance required. The Alabama Law Enforcement Agency (ALEA) offers registration on a voluntary basis:
“Pursuant to ACT 2017-395, a person may voluntarily register all-terrain vehicles and recreational off-highway vehicles with the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency (ALEA). “
While teenagers are not the only age group involved in accidents, an alarming number of children are hurt riding off-highway vehicles.
Between 2016 and 2020, the Consumer Product Safety Council reported 526,900 visits to emergency rooms across the country related to off-highway vehicle injuries. A shocking 39.7% of these injuries involved children under the age of sixteen with 69,300 injuries to children under the age of 12.
Who is responsible for these injuries? Determining liability is the role of your attorney. In Alabama, three types of negligence may apply.
- Negligent Entrustment
- Negligent Supervision
- Negligent Maintenance
If you own an ATV and make the vehicle available to your minor child and their friends, you could be guilty of Negligent Entrustment defined by Alabama case law as:
“The essential ingredients of a cause of action for negligent entrustment are: (1) an entrustment; (2) to an incompetent; (3) with knowledge that he is incompetent; (4) proximate cause; and (5) damages.” Edwards v. Valentine, 926 So. 2d 315, 319-20 (Ala. 2005)
Alabama law requires adults to provide supervision to children. Otherwise, you could be liable for Negligent Supervision. Someone could be liable for damages and held responsible if you fail to supervise your children and their guests while they are operating an ATV. Being neglectful in maintaining your ATV as required could lead to Negligent Maintenance.
Alabama is one of only five states (Alabama, Maryland, North Carolina, Virginia, and Washington, D.C.) still using pure contributory negligence law. This means if the victim of an accident is even 1% responsible for their injuries, damages cannot be awarded by the court. While this creates a challenge, it also underscores the importance of hiring an experienced trial attorney to help you recover damages. Our firm has been involved in hundreds of jury trials.
If you or your family member is injured in an accident, contact us for guidance. There is no charge for a consultation with our team. Another party may be responsible for the injuries you’ve sustained. It’s important to seek legal counsel for any injury sustained through no fault of your own.
We also encourage anyone operating this type of vehicle to enroll in a safety course. One option is: https://www.offroad-ed.com/alabama/
Contact us at 256-650-5500 by phone or via web chat (24 hours daily) at hornsbywatson.com.