All Terrain Vehicle (ATV) Accidents

There are about 10 million acres in Maine that are privately owned, but publicly accessible for outdoor recreation. Each landowner may have different policies and rules about the operation of all terrain vehicles (ATV) on their lands. An ATV vehicle is one that is motor-driven, capable of off-road travel on snow, ice, marshlands, or any other natural terrain. If you or a loved one has been injured on an ATV due to negligence or a product defect, the experienced Maine ATV accident attorneys at Peter Thompson & Associates can help you fight for the compensation you need.

Rules Governing ATV Use in Maine

Some of the rules promulgated by the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife must be followed regardless of whose land you are on while operating an ATV. For example, under Title 12, Chapter 939, § 13152, someone between 9 and 16 years of age must successfully complete a training program with his or her parent or guardian approved by the department before operating an ATV except on land he lives on, land owned by the parent or guardian, or at a safety training site. Following these rules helps keep everyone, including minors, safer while engaging in recreation. It is also good to use common sense. For example, it is never wise to operate an ATV while drinking alcohol whether on your own land or someone else's.

ATV Negligence in Maine

Negligent operation of an ATV, or negligent conduct of other kinds in an area where ATVs are operated, can lead to a serious accident causing injuries. In order to prove negligence on the part of a defendant, a plaintiff must show: (1) the defendant owed the victim a duty to exercise a certain level of care, (2) breach of that duty, (3) proximate cause, and (4) actual damages. Maine follows a modified doctrine of comparative negligence. In some comparative fault states, this means that a plaintiff's recovery is reduced by the same percentage by which he or she is at fault. In Maine, the jury may simply reduce the recovery by an equitable amount. A plaintiff who is 50% or more at fault is barred from recovery.

For example, if you have been drinking a few beers before riding your ATV and get into an accident that is mostly somebody else's fault but also partly your own fault, your recovery may be reduced. In practical terms, this means a plaintiff may be found 40% comparatively negligent, but a jury can reduce the award by 50% in weighing the equities. The jury's decision to reduce the award in this context does not mean that a plaintiff is actually 50% at fault.

ATV Product Liability

It is widely known that four-wheeled ATVs may roll over. Accordingly, many manufacturers have designed safety systems such as a kill switch or tilt sensor to protect someone in case of a rollover. If these systems are not properly designed or manufactured, someone riding an ATV may still be severely injured. Maine uses different standards for manufacturing versus design defects. Certain ATV models have been recalled because of defective designs that caused them to tip or roll over in situations where they should have stayed upright. If you were injured due to this type of design defect, you may be required to show that the design was negligent.

On the other hand, if you were injured because of a manufacturing defect in your ATV, a strict liability standard may apply. This means you must simply show that the product was defective, rather than having to show the elements described above. Manufacturing defects are flaws in the manufacturing process. Strict liability applies unless you altered the ATV or asked a technician to alter it after you received it from the seller or manufacturer.

Experience You Can Rely On

If you have been hurt through use of a recreational vehicle, retain the trustworthy Maine ATV accident lawyers at Peter Thompson & Associates to assist you in seeking the compensation you deserve. Contact us at 800.804.2004 or via our online form.

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