Recreational Terrain Vehicles (RTVs) are frequently used on farms and ranches to haul feed, equipment and people. RTVs are also used for fun by both children and adults. Unfortunately, kids are often the victims of RTV and ATV accidents.
According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, there were an estimated 93,700 ATV-related, emergency department-treated injuries in the United States in 2014. An estimated 26 percent of these involved children younger than 16 years of age.
Don’t think this can happen to you or members of your family? Consider the following accident that was reported as a claim a few years ago:
A farmer’s 14-year-old son got permission from his dad to use the farm’s RTV to transport two 14-year-old friends and camera equipment to a field to film a documentary for a school project. The young men were properly seat-belted when they left.
Instead of coming straight home following filming, the young men rode to a public gravel parking lot to horseplay and do donuts. While the farmer’s son was driving, the RTV tipped over—trapping the passengers’ legs under the unit.
Both passengers suffered serious injury. One passenger sustained a degloving leg injury—resulting in extensive nerve and muscle damage. The second passenger sustained a fractured arm, multiple leg breaks and a degloving leg injury. Due to the severity of the injuries, both passengers will require treatment throughout their lives.
Police came to the scene of the accident and interviewed several witnesses who reported seeing the driver operating the unit in a reckless manner. As a result, the farmer’s son received several tickets, including reckless driving, operating a motor vehicle without a license and parental permission to operate a motor vehicle without a license.
All of the families were friends, but due to the severity of the injuries both sets of parents immediately sought legal counsel. The farmer had a farm policy with a $ 1 million limit and an umbrella policy with $1,000,000 limit. The full limits of both policies were paid to resolve this claim.
Parents should determine each family member’s readiness to operate an RTV or ATV based on physical size, coordination, balance, ability to judge distances, willingness to follow rules and peripheral vision. Visitors to your farm should never be allowed to ride or operate your RTV or ATV.
Careful operation is your best protection against an accident. All operators should read and understand the vehicle operator's manual and other related manuals before operating the vehicle or any implement attached to it. It is the owner's obligation to instruct all operators in safe operation.