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Fatal Knoxville ATV Crashes Prompt Urgent Safety Reminders

Two recent fatal crashes in Knoxville involving all-terrain vehicles – one of those claiming the life of a 4-year-old – are sad reminders that use of these machines are to be treated with the same care and caution we afford other types of motor vehicles.
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Although they are smaller, they can be unquestionably just as dangerous.

As a parent, there is no greater loss than that of a child. Devastation doesn’t begin to describe the depths of it, no matter what the circumstances. However, what has the potential to worsen the blow is when it was entirely preventable. That may have been the case here.

Officials in Kingsport say the child was playing around an ATV that was parked in the yard of a residence. In the course of his play, he reportedly pushed and pulled the machine and was able to dislodge it from where it was parked. He was standing in front of the machine as it began to roll down a hill toward the house, which was located at the bottom of the hill. The child then became pinned in between the ATV and the home, suffering injuries that ultimately proved fatal.

Although authorities have said the keys were not in the ignition and the vehicle’s engine was off at the time of the incident, we’re talking about a machine that is, at minimum, 300 pounds, and possibly as much as 800 pounds. That a 4-year-old had the ability to move it suggests that it was potentially not properly secured, which could turn out to be an issue of premises liability, particularly if the owner of the device knew or should have known children would be playing near it.

It might also have been a product liability issue if the brake didn’t properly secure the vehicle in place.

That’s speculative, of course, and the investigation is still ongoing. Still in these instances, one weighs all the potential avenues of recourse.

The American Academy of Pediatrics, as well as the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons have both issued formal recommendations indicating that children under the age of 16 should not drive ATVs, nor should they be around them unsupervised.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission reports that ATV crashes increased by 88 percent between the mid-1990s and mid-2000s. During that same time frame, some 44,000 children were hospitalized for injuries related to contact with ATVs or ATV crashes. In fact, children under the age of 16 accounted for nearly a third of all off-road vehicle injuries on ATVs in 2005.

In another recent local case, a 25-year-old ATV rider was killed when the machine he was operating veered off the roadway, hit an embankment and rolled over. At this point, we don’t have a lot of additional information regarding the surrounding circumstances. Officials are working to determine whether drugs or alcohol may have been a factor in the crash.

While children are advised to steer clear of ATVs altogether, adults should take special precautionary measures to ensure their own safety while operating these devices, according to the CPSC. Those precautions include:

  • Always wearing a helmet, eye protection, boots, gloves, long pants and long-sleeved shirts;
  • Refrain from driving with a passenger or as a passenger, as ATVs are not designed for this;
  • Undergo a safety training course;
  • Avoid driving ATVs on paved roads;
  • Do not allow a child under the age of 16 to drive or ride on an adult ATV;
  • Never drive an ATV while impaired by alcohol or drugs.

If you are involved in an ATV accident, contact Hartsoe Law Firm, P.C. at (865) 524-5657.

Additional Resources:
Mishap involving ATV claims life of 4-year-old in Kingsport, Sept. 3, 2013, By Wes Bunch, Times News

25-year-old Kentucky man killed in ATV accident, Sept. 1, 2013, Associated Press

More Blog Entries:
Knoxville Traffic Safety Watch: Men More Likely to Speed? Aug. 7, 2013, Knoxville Injury Lawyer Blog