The issue of ATV safety has become a growing concern nationwide. In November 2007, Consumer Reports published findings of a five-year study comparing the prevalence of ATV and bicycle crashes from 2000-2004, noting that “hospitalizations from ATV incidents are growing at a markedly higher rate than those caused by bicycle injuries even though there are far more bicycle owners.” (source: www.blogs.consumerreports.org) The study was funded by the Concerned Families for ATV Safety and the Arabella Legacy Fund, a private charitable organization that also supports the Responsible Trails Alliance.
One of the most dangerous ATVs on the market is the Yamaha Rhino. Since the Yamaha Rhino All Terrain Vehicle was introduced to the market in the United States in 2003, it has caused a large number of devastating rollover accidents that left adults and a number of children seriously injured, permanently maimed and in some instances dead. With the popularity of ATVs, the number of accidents occurring has risen over the years, and in most instances these accidents are attributed to driver error and/or dangerous riding. But, in the case of the Yamaha Rhino ATV, these injuries can be directly linked to Yamaha’s defective design of this ATV. These design defects include:
• High center of gravity
• Small wheels
• Narrow wheelbase / frame
When these design defects are coupled with a powerful engine, fast acceleration ,and quick turning radius, the Rhino can become very unstable, even at slow speeds. In addition to the aforementioned design defects, the Yamaha Rhino provides inadequate protection for driver’s and passenger’s limbs in the event of an accident. The original design was manufactured without doors of any kind. The design resulted in arms, legs, and bodies being crushed when the defectively designed ATV rolled over. Consumers need to be very concerned if they have purchased a Rhino, especially if children ride in it. We are currently looking at a number of potential claims involving these ATVs.
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