A personal injury lawsuit settlement has been reached in one of the hundreds of personal injury lawsuits filed against Yamaha and its Rhino utility-terrain vehicle (UTV) for saety problems and product liability concerns. This is the first successful case against Yahama in connection to the UTV product liability problems. The injury victim in the settlement filed the injury lawsuit after sustaining a crushed left leg during a low-speed rollover event. The UTV was being operated at a low speed on a relatively flat and grassy area. The vehicle tipped during a right turn, falling onto the driver’s side, trapping the victim’s leg under the UTV. The injuries sustained were severe and permanent.
ATVs are all-terrain vehicles, vehicles that travel on low pressure tires with a seat that is straddled by the operator, along with handlebars for steering control. They were first introduced in the early 1970s and almost immediately resulted in alarming personal injury rates for adolescents and children. Statistics released by the Consumer Product Safety Commission show that in 2005, there were an estimated 136,700 personal injuries associated with ATVs treated in United States hospital emergency rooms. In 2004, 767 people died in ATV-associated incidents.
A UTV, on the other hand, is a “side by side” where 2 or 4 people can drive off-road. The majority of UTVs come with a roll over protection system. Many may also come equipped with hard tops, windshields, and even cab enclosures. However, the Consumer Product Safety Commission stated that the vehicle may exhibit inadequate lateral stability, undesirable steering characteristics, and inadequate occupant protection during a rollover crash. Between 2003 and 2009, 116 deaths occurred in UTV accidents.