Brian White | June 8, 2018 | Summer Safety
All-terrain vehicles (ATVs) can be a great way to have fun this summer, but it’s vital to acknowledge the inherently dangerous nature of these vehicles and know a few best practices to avoid injuries. ATVs, while smaller than most passenger cars, are still heavy and potentially dangerous motor vehicles that do not have the same safety features as cars. Attorney Brian White and his team want you to know how to stay safe on your ATV this summer to avoid injuries.
ATV Best Practices
Before heading out for a day on your ATV, make sure the vehicle is in working order. Check the fluids, fuel, lights, and brake system to make sure they are reliably functional before operating the vehicle. Check the tires for punctures and air loss as well. Once your vehicle is in working order and ready for the trails, be sure to double-check that you meet your state’s requirements for ATV operation. Texas has several specific laws in place concerning ATV ownership, registration, and operation, so make sure you comply to avoid fines or other legal penalties.
Once you’ve checked your ATV’s condition and confirmed your legal obligations, you should take a few more steps to prevent ATV accident injuries. First, remember that ATVs can only carry one rider at a time. They are not passenger vehicles, and most do not have safety harnesses or seatbelts. Only allow one rider at a time per ATV, and make sure you and other riders wear helmets and other safety gear like knee and elbow pads to help reduce the chances of an injury. If you’re riding with others, keep a communication device with you such as a cell phone or two-way radio to keep in touch.
It’s also wise to scout your location before a day on your ATV. Unless you’re staying on your own property, you may need to go to a state park or designated ATV’ing area to enjoy your four-wheeler. Make sure you heed any safety warnings posted at your chosen location and take care during inclement weather. Rain and mud can interfere with your ATV’s operation and could potentially lead to an accident.
Legally Operating Your ATV in Texas
Generally, it’s a good idea to consider your ATV along the same lines as your car when it comes to insurance and legal driving. Check to make sure your personal auto insurance policy applies to your ATV before using it. If you get into an accident without insurance, it could limit your options for recovery, and you may even face legal action for operating a motor vehicle without the appropriate insurance.
While you’re on your ATV, observe the same best practices you would when driving a car. Refrain from consuming alcohol or illicit drugs before operating your ATV. Follow any posted safety warnings or speed restrictions in the area and try to keep your ATV at moderate and reasonable speeds. If a child under 16 is riding with you, make sure he or she uses an appropriately sized vehicle. A child riding an adult-sized ATV is twice as likely to sustain injuries as an adult riding a child-sized ATV.
If an ATV accident occurs and you or a loved one suffers injuries, it’s important to handle your medical issues first and then consider your legal options. If another rider caused your accident through negligent behavior, you may have grounds for a personal injury lawsuit. If you used your ATV on private property with the owner’s permission but the owner failed to warn you about a known hazard, the property owner could face liability under premises liability laws. If a defective ATV, part, or piece of safety equipment caused your injury, you may have grounds for a product liability claim against the manufacturer. Consult a reliable Houston personal injury lawyer after an ATV accident to determine your best options for legal recourse.