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What Should a Parent Do If a Child is Injured While Riding an All Terrain Vehicle (ATV)?

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By David Wolf, Attorney

Published by Child Injury Lawyer Network

All Terrain Vehicles (ATVs) can be great fun for children and adults alike; unfortunately, these same recreational vehicles are the cause or mechanism of thousands upon thousands of personal injuries and, in some instances, the deaths of children.  Just because an All Terrain Vehicle seems like great fun – – parents and other adults responsible for the care and well being of children should pay close attention to the statistics out there which show over 100,000 visits to the emergency room due to injuries / deaths attributed to All Terrain Vehicle use and operation.  Some States like Pennsylvania have restrictions as age requiremnts for use of ATVs.   While laws can help deter dangerous activities by children and dangerous activities permitted by adults, children across the Nation and in Pennsylvania continue to operate All Terrain Vehicles (ATVs) without training, licensure, adult supervision, or proper training.  There are dangers both when a child operates an ATV and when a child is a passenger of an ATV.  At any moment, a child operator or passenger can fall off of an ATV. This can be especially dangerous if the child is not wearing a helmet, the ATV is being operated at a high rate of speed and / or is taking a sharp turn, and when the ATV is being operated on rough terrain or on a street.

In Somerset County Pennsylvania, there was a tragic accident involving an ATV which resulted in the death of Tailynn Felker (age 4). It was  reported that this young girl was thrown off of an ATV that she was riding with her 14 year old cousin.  There were no helmets or seat belts in use at the time of the incident.  You can read more about dangers of ATVs at The Risks and Dangers of ATVs.

There are a number of factors from a legal standpoint when a child is injured while operating or riding an ATV including the following:

How old was the child who was injured?

How old was the person operting the ATV?

What kind of training (if any) or licensure (if any) did the operator have regarding the operation of the ATV?

Who owned the ATV?

Did the injured child’s parents give permission to the child to operate or ride as a passenger on the ATV?

What adult supervision was in place at the time of the incident?

What safety measures were put in place? (Helmet, Seat Belt, Type of Course / Terrain, Type and Model of ATV)

Was the ATV accident or incident avoidable?

Was there liability or ATV insurance in place for injuries caused during the operation / use of the ATV?

What injuries were suffered by the child?

What medical treatment was received by the child?

What laws (if any) are in place for the use / operation of an ATV?

The above questions are just some of many questions a parent of an injured child will have following an ATV accident or incident. It is often helpful for a parent in these situations to consult with a Child Injury Lawyer to determine the respective rights of the injured child.   The book – When the Wheels Stop Spinning – Legal Rights of the Injured Child – What Parents Need to Know After the Accident – has chapters on Automobile Accidents, Bicycle Accidents, Pedestrian Accidents, Insurance, Compensation & Settlement, and other topics. While there is not a specific chapter on ATVs in this particular book, the general concepts presented in the book can be applied to ATV related cases.  You can get a free copy of this book at When the Wheels Stop Spinning.