ATVs are heavy pieces of machinery capable of reaching speeds of up to 65 miles per hour. Used for recreation, business, farming and racing, these vehicles are prone to rollovers, and accidents between two ATVs are a reality. The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) reports that there were 12,391 ATV-related fatalities recorded between the years of 1982 and 2012. The CPSC also reported 494 ATV-related fatalities in Pennsylvania between the years of 1982 and 2008.
When an ATV accident occurs and medical bills and property damage expenses begin to accumulate, accident victims and their families may begin to look for somewhere to turn for compensation. Recovering compensation will depend greatly on liability for the accident and the types of insurance available.
Who is liable for my damages?
If you or a loved one has been involved in an ATV accident, you could be dealing with property damage and medical bills. Determining liability is a good start to figuring out with which insurance policy you will need to file your claim. Consider the following factors to help you determine the responsible party.
- Where did the accident happen? Did it occur at home, on a neighbor’s property, or on a state-owned trail? The location of the accident and the circumstances surrounding it could be a clue to who is responsible. For example, if a large hole on a state-owned trail caused you to crash, you could be filing a claim against the state in some cases. If you were riding a neighbor’s ATV (with permission) on his or her property and had an accident, it is possible that the neighbor’s homeowner’s insurance would cover your damages.
- Was it a single-vehicle accident or did someone hit you? If another rider caused your accident, you may need to file an accident claim with his or her ATV insurer. If you caused the accident, it may be your ATV insurance that will handle the claim.
What type of insurance will cover my claim?
This is not always a clear-cut answer. Homeowner’s insurance or ATV insurance policies could be involved. ATV insurance is often the first possibility, and if you have ATV insurance you may consider placing a claim with it, especially if you do not believe anyone else’s negligence contributed to your accident. ATV insurance works a lot like auto insurance and companies may offer liability, collision, comprehensive, bodily injury and uninsured/underinsured options. Check your policy to see which types of coverage you have.
If your accident occurred on your own property and you do not have ATV insurance, then your homeowner’s insurance may be responsible for your claim. Review your policy to determine if the accident is covered under your policy. You can also contact your insurer directly with any questions about coverage.
Consult a personal injury attorney to review your options and determine where you should file your claim. An attorney will know what questions to ask you to figure out who might be responsible and what insurance carrier to contact. Your attorney will help you gather required information and documentation and will help you build a case against any responsible parties. If any defenses arise, your attorney will handle those as well.