When used for recreation, ATVs can be a lot of fun. Furthermore, they have a wide range of utility for industrial use. As with any vehicle, however, there are dangers associated with ATVS. Understanding those dangers allows us to take the necessary precautions, including safety equipment, training, maintenance, and safe operation, to name a few. When an ATV does not operate as expected or is defective in its design or manufacturing, however, we are less able to protect ourselves from the dangers and risks inherent in operating an ATV.
The attorneys at Spangenberg, Shibley & Liber in Cleveland, Ohio recently settled claims on behalf of a woman who was seriously injured as a result of an ATV accelerating unexpectedly. In October of 2007, Cheryl Gaus was driving one of the family’s two ATVs with her son on their rural property. After they stopped to observe some wildlife, Cheryl started the ATV which suddenly and unexpectedly accelerated at full throttle without Cheryl touching the throttel lever. Cheryl was thrown from the ATV as it violently surged forward, after which, the ATV continued riderless for several feet before finally striking a fence and flipping onto its side. Even then, however, it continued to spin its wheels.
Cheryl suffered multiple injuries, the most serious of which were fractured cervical vertabrae. Fortunately, Cheryl was not rendered paralyzed. Her recovery, however, was long and arduous.
Upon being contacted by the Gauses, the attorneys at Spangenberg quickly located and contacted a well-qualified expert in the field to inspect the machine and instructed the Gauses not to tamper with the ATV. An inspection identified a clear failure of the ATV to perform in the manner expected. Specifically, the throttle cable had failed to return to its closed (idle) position when Cheryl turned off the ignition. Therefore, when she re-started the machine, the throttle was engaged and the machine surged forward unexpectedly and was uncontrolable. With the help of the inspector, a report was prepared and submitted to the ATV manufacturer.
Spangenberg’s understanding of defective ATV claims was essential to preserving the evidence and acquiring the information necessary to achieve early resolution.
If you or someone you know was injured while riding an ATV that may have been defectively designed or manufactured, or that otherwise failed to operate as expected, contact