Bridgeport ATV Accident Lawyer

A low-to-the-ground shot of a dirty, worn-down ATV outside a garage door.

ATVs are part of a class of vehicles intended for off-road use, called Off-Highway Vehicles or OHVs. They are not meant to be driven on pavement, and in most cases, driving one on the road in Connecticut is illegal.

However, many people ride them on private or public lands or trails marked for ATV use.

The rise in popularity of ATVs and other OHVs has increased the frequency of injuries associated with riding these vehicles. Between 2016 and 2020, ATV accidents resulted in around 526,900 emergency room visits, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC).

The most frequent causes of these accidents were overturning ATVs and collisions with other vehicles or objects.

Unfortunately, ATV accidents can cause severe consequences for the rider.

There are no seatbelts on an ATV, as they can interfere with the driver controlling the vehicle. When a collision occurs, there’s a significant risk of the rider being ejected, resulting in numerous injuries.

The CPSC reports that the most common injuries in ATV accidents involve the head and neck, the arms, the torso, and the legs. Fractures, contusions, or abrasions were the most likely diagnoses after an ATV crash, but some riders also suffer internal injuries, traumatic brain injury or TBI, back or spinal cord injuries, and more.

How Can a Bridgeport ATV Accident Attorney Help After Your Accident?

After an ATV accident, you may need help with medical bills, lost income, property damage, and other damages, but figuring out how to get insurance coverage for these losses can be challenging. There are multiple potentially liable parties in an ATV accident, and some of them may have relevant insurance coverage – but are they willing to accept responsibility for the accident?

Often, the answer is no. Sometimes, an ATV accident insurance claim might be rejected because the negligent party claims the injured person is at fault.

An ATV accident attorney can help you with these and other difficulties you may encounter when trying to recover your damages.

First, we’ll review the police report (if there is one) or other documentation of your accident. We’ll ask you questions to help determine precisely what went wrong and how the crash occurred.

Afterward, we’ll consider who might be at fault. Here are some of the likely possibilities:

  • The ATV’s owner. Did you rent or borrow the ATV? Many people rent ATVs at specific events or outdoor attractions, and a business owner will usually require you to sign a waiver saying they are not responsible for accidents. However, there are still some situations where you can sue the owner even if you signed a waiver. Typically, the ATV’s owner is not responsible if you drive carelessly or another ATV driver hits you. But if the owner fails to properly maintain the bike or warn you about a problem, they might be liable, waiver or not.
  • Another ATV driver. If you were injured as a passenger on an ATV or by another ATV driver who collided with you, the driver who caused the accident could be liable. Again, there may be an issue of disagreement about fault. If so, we’ll work to investigate the accident and collect as much evidence as possible to show what happened.
  • The property owner. Sometimes, the property owner is also the ATV owner. In other situations, the injured person was riding their own vehicle on a friend’s land or property owned by a business. The property owner is not necessarily liable simply because you were injured on their property, but if an unaddressed hazard caused your accident, they could be at fault. Examples of hazards include an unexpected hole in the ground or an obstruction like a rock or tree in your path. The property owner is responsible for either fixing these issues or warning visitors to avoid them.
  • The manufacturer of the ATV or one of its components. Occasionally, we see cases where the ATV or one of its parts is defective, causing an accident. However, it’s essential to understand the difference between a defective item and a lack of maintenance. If the ATV is several years old and a part malfunctions, the issue could be that you or the owner should have engaged in regular maintenance. On the other hand, some malfunctions are due to a design defect and are unaffected by maintenance, so it’s helpful to consult an attorney if you suspect a defect caused your accident.
  • A third party who serviced the ATV. If a mechanic or other third-party worker made an error when fixing the ATV, which led to your accident, they might be liable.

Knowing which of the above situations applies to your case can be challenging, but an experienced attorney can help you learn more about the accident and who might be at fault.

What if You Were at Fault in the ATV Accident?

Anyone can make a mistake when riding an ATV—even careful riders sometimes misjudge turns or fail to see an object in their path. Fortunately, ATV insurance often covers these situations.

Do you have ATV insurance? If you plan to ride your four-wheeler on public land, you must register and license the vehicle, but individual plans may have varying levels of coverage.

Here are the different types of insurance and what they cover:

  • Liability insurance. This is beneficial if you cause an accident that harms someone else. There are two types of liability insurance: Bodily injury coverage pays for another party’s medical expenses when you were at fault in the collision. Property damage insurance covers damage to their ATV or other property.
  • Comprehensive coverage. This covers your expenses when your four-wheeler is stolen, vandalized, or damaged in a fire.
  • Collision. Collision will pay for ATV damage caused by outdoor hazards like rocks, trees, or other solid objects.
  • Uninsured/underinsured motorist insurance (UM/UI). Your UM/UI coverage will kick in if an uninsured or underinsured driver hits you.

Finally, never assume you’re at fault in an ATV accident. People often mistakenly believe they’re at fault for collisions that someone else caused. If you think you made a mistake or may have caused the crash, please speak to an ATV accident lawyer before sharing these thoughts with anyone else.

When the police interview you about the accident, you should respond honestly, but don’t volunteer extra information or voice your opinion about fault. There could be things you don’t know about the collision because you only have your own perspective.

Can Two Parties Be at Fault in an ATV Accident?

Yes. Connecticut uses modified comparative fault statutes for personal injury law, which includes ATV accident cases.

If you and another party share some responsibility in an accident, you can collect damages if you are less than 51 percent to blame. Your percentage of fault will be deducted from your final award, so if you are 15 percent responsible, you will lose 15 percent of your damages.

As we discussed earlier, parties often disagree about fault, and when insurance companies get involved, things are even more complicated. The other driver’s insurance company may insist you were entirely at fault or that you had a much higher percentage of responsibility than you did.

The insurance company doesn’t have to pay anything if they can make a case that you were at least 51 percent at fault. They still save money if they claim you had a smaller percentage of fault.

A surprising number of people will accept the insurance company’s opinion on their percentage of fault. Some are happy to receive any amount of money from the insurance company and may not realize their share of blame has been inflated.

Your ATV accident attorney will fight to show the insurance adjuster that your own level of culpability is very low or, in some cases, nonexistent. If necessary, we will even defend your right to compensation in court—but in most cases, we can reach an equitable agreement with the insurance company through negotiations.

Where Can You Get Help From a Bridgeport ATV Accident Law Firm?

If you or a loved one have suffered an ATV accident, please contact Bert McDowell Injury Law for a free consultation about your case. We’ll review the details, answer your questions, and explain the options for recovering your damages.

There is no obligation to work with us. If we take your case, we won’t charge you anything until we win or settle it.

Attorney Bert McDowell Jr. is an experienced trial lawyer representing clients injured in various personal injury situations. He has been featured in 40 Under 40 Connecticut Magazine and National Trial Lawyers Top 40 Under 40.

Mr. McDowell has also been a Super Lawyers Rising Star for four consecutive years and is devoted to community service. He serves on multiple nonprofit boards and is honored with the 100 Men of Color Award for his community services and stellar legal reputation.

The organization Black People Rocks also presented him with the Man of Excellence Award. Start working on your claim by calling Bert McDowell Injury Law today at (203) 590-9169.