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Articles Posted in ATV Accidents

One thing I love about my job as a New York personal injury lawyer is that I am always learning new things. A novel personal injury case walks in my door and I say, “wow, I didn’t know that could happen”!  But then I research it and find out that not only does it happen, it happens repeatedly. And it happens because someone, and not the poor injured guy, but rather a big, fat, rich company, screwed up.

Here’s a recent example:  Two young ladies are riding on a jet ski (some manufacturers call them WaveRunners or Sea-Doos).  The driver speeds up and the backseat passenger falls backward into the water. The fall into the water didn’t hurt, of course.  It’s a fairly soft landing.  And since a jet ski has no propellers, she did not get chewed up by a prop. (We have successfully represented several clients with prop injuries, one who lost her leg).  No, what happened was that the jet ski’s “jet” of water pummeled her rectum so hard it caused severe internal damage.  She almost lost her life by bleeding to death.  And her rectum was so damaged that she ended up needing to wear a coloscopy bag.

These facts stunned me.  At first I thought this was just a fluke accident, that the “jet” of the jet ski had coincidentally hit her at just a certain angle so as to be able to enter her anus and her rectum, and that it was a one-off event.  I figured at best my client had a claim against the driver of the jet ski for accelerating too quickly. I wondered whether the owner or driver of the jet ski would even have liability insurance coverage  for the accident. (Unlike for a car, New York law does not require boat insurance).

At Michaels & Smolak, we’ve seen a lot of bad ATV accidents in Central New York. From our perspective as New York ATV accident lawyers, the best cases are those in which the accident was not the injured guy’s (our client’s) fault. But unfortunately, many times severely injured victims of ATV crashes are themselves to blame.

The Good news about ATV accidents is that there are fewer of them than before. ATV Deaths and accidents have been going down steadily year after year since 2006. That’s because ATV’s are built safer, in part because of lawsuits brought by lawyers like me forcing manufacturers to make them safer. (Remember the old three-wheelers, and the tip-over accidents that plagued them? Personal injury lawyers sued them into oblivion!)

But there are still too many ATV accidents. This blog post is aimed at helping ATV users, and their parents, avoid accidents (and tickets!).

When I read the story this morning about a Pulaski ATV operator who was killed when his neck ran into a wire strung across a private trail in Albion, I got that “déjà vu” experience. I handled a similar case about 4 years ago. That case involved a dirt bike rider on a trail down in the Watkins Glen area. In that case, there were little red plastic flags strung along the wire that had worn out and become almost invisible with time. The owner had meant to prohibit entry onto the trail. We resolved this case with a settlement.

This Albion ATV accident happened on private trail. The owner of the trail might be held liable, depending on the facts. Some important facts a New York personal injury lawyer would consider are: (1) Who put the wire there (was it deliberately installed by the trail owner to keep users off, or was it placed there by some unknown persons as a kind of cruel joke? Obviously, it will be much easier to prove liability if the owner placed it there or had notice that it was there); (2) Was the wire visible or did it have visible markings on it? (This accident happened at about 8:50 p.m., so visibility would probably be minimal or non-existent); and (3) Were there any prior signs or warnings to stay off the trail?

If the owner meant to keep ATV riders and others off his property, this was a dangerous and cruel way to do so. Let’s hope that was not the case.

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