Representing Severely Injured Motorsport Riders
Washington state has millions of acres of rugged terrain just begging motorsport enthusiasts to explore. In this search for adventure, dirt biking and other off-road motorsports have grown in popularity here in The Evergreen State. Both children and adults can participate in these activities, but safety is still a major concern. Each year, hundreds of Americans are severely injured or killed while riding dirt bikes, trail bikes, ATVs and similar off-road vehicles. While some accidents are due to rider inexperience, others are the result of someone else’s negligence, such as a rental company, a manufacturer or even another vehicle operator.
If you or a family member has been injured in an off-road accident due to the negligence or carelessness of another party or a defective product, you may be entitled to compensation for any losses you suffered. But these cases can be complex, so working with an experienced Seattle dirt bike and ATV accident attorney is your best option. We at Pendergast Law can utilize more than 40 years of experience to investigate your case and advocate for full and proper compensation. To review your case in a free, no-obligation consultation, call our law firm today at 888-539-9211.
Off-Roading In The State Of Washington
Washington categorizes ATVs and dirt bikes as off-road vehicles (ORVs), according to RCW 46.09.020. Under this legal definition, an ORV can include “any non-street licensed vehicle” that is “used for recreational purposes” and can only be operated “on non-highway roads, trails, or a variety of other natural terrains.” The definition also includes certain types of all-terrain motorcycles, four-wheel-drive vehicles like golf carts, and dune buggies.
To operate an ORV, a rider must:
- Be at least 13 years old or supervised by someone 18 or older who has a driver’s license
- Have a use permit
- Have ORV tags and a vehicle registration
- Wear a helmet unless seated in an enclosed space, such as a golf cart, or wearing a seat belt
Riders are also not allowed to operate an ORV on public roads or highways unless the vehicle is certified by federal, state or local authorities for on-road use. However, some ORVs are street legal if they have certain safety equipment – headlamps, turn signals, seat belts, etc. – and can be operated on roads with a maximum speed limit of 35 mph. If an ORV is street legal, the rider has the same rights and responsibilities as other drivers.
How Safe Are ORVs?
ORVs are designed to handle rough terrain while allowing the rider to travel at high speeds, but that versatility comes at a cost. These vehicles are not as stringently reviewed and tested for crashworthiness as cars and trucks, and they lack many modern safety features.
Dirt bikes, in particular, are more akin to low-powered motorcycles than bicycles. While a bicycle accident can be severe if the rider is struck by a larger vehicle, dirt bike riders can suffer extensive trauma simply due to the speed at which their vehicles travel, especially if they are thrown over the handlebars. The addition of an electric or gas-powered motor also puts the rider at risk of suffering severe burns.
Two major issues contribute to ORV accidents: negligence and defective products. Negligence is typically attributed to ORV riders or other vehicle operators. For example, if an ORV rider is inexperienced or riding recklessly, he could collide with other riders or pedestrians and cause severe injuries. In addition, if two riders are riding tandem and the lead rider makes a dangerous maneuver, it could put both of them at risk. At the same time, car and truck drivers who are speeding on dirt roads may collide with ORVs, causing serious auto accidents. The other major issue is the ORVs themselves. ATVs, dirt bikes and dune buggies all suffer a great deal of wear and tear. If they are not properly designed or manufactured, defects could cause a rider to lose control and crash. This is especially dangerous with ATVs, which are prone to fatal rollovers. If a defective or faulty ORV part caused your accident, you may be eligible to file a product liability claim against the manufacturer.
Common Injuries In Off-Road Accidents
Given the weight, size and speed of some ATVs and dirt bikes, riders can suffer catastrophic injuries, leading to days in the hospital, pricy-but-necessary surgeries, and lifelong disabilities. This is especially true if a rider is not wearing a helmet, making them more prone to suffering head trauma.
In our experience, dirt bike and ATV riders typically suffer from:
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Spinal cord damage
- Lost limbs or amputations
- Severe lacerations and scars
- Multiple fractured and crushed bones
- Internal injuries
Accident victims are often left with costly medical bills, a great deal of pain and weeks to months out of work. However, if someone else’s negligence caused your ORV accident, you may be able to recover all these costs in an injury claim.
Compensation For Motorsport Injuries
In general, the state of Washington allows accident victims to pursue two types of damages in a claim: economic and noneconomic. Economic damages consist of the financial costs of an injury, starting with your medical treatment, and can include any paychecks you missed due to being out of work or future wages you will lose as a result of a disability. In turn, noneconomic damages include the personal costs of an injury, such as the physical pain of your injuries, the emotional trauma of the accident and any lasting mental health conditions you have to deal with.
Altogether, an accident victim can pursue:
- Current medical bills, such as ambulance and emergency room fees, hospitalizations and medications
- Future medical bills related to your injuries, such as reconstructive surgeries, skin grafts or physical therapy
- Loss of or damage to property
- Household and vehicle modifications, such as wheelchair ramps and lifts
- Permanent injury or disability
- Lost wages
- Loss of career or earning capacity
- Pain and suffering
- Mental anguish and emotional duress
- Loss of joy of life
Sadly, because these vehicles are inherently dangerous, fatalities are not uncommon in ORV accidents. While we cannot bring your loved one back, we can advocate for proper compensation for your loss. Family members are allowed to file wrongful death claims if their loved one died due to someone else’s negligence. These claims can account for the following wrongful death damages:
- Funeral and burial expenses
- Medical bills incurred before the deceased passed
- Loss of future income
- Loss of future benefits, such as medical benefits, retirement, etc.
- Loss of companionship, love, affection, guidance, marital consortium, etc.
- Loss of household duties that the deceased performed, such as accounting, child care, property and vehicle maintenance, etc.
- Pain and suffering of the deceased before they died
The Legal Knowledge You Need After An Accident
Filing either a personal injury or wrongful death claim after an off-road accident can be a stressful process. You will need to review the scene, collect evidence of wrongdoing, determine which insurance policies apply and advocate for compensation through insurance negotiations or a jury trial. If you are in the middle of the healing process, your best option is to have a skilled Seattle personal injury attorney handle your case for you. At Pendergast Law, we provide compassionate and dedicated representation during your claim to ensure that you get the compensation you need to recover. To speak to our experienced team, contact our office at 888-539-9211 for a free consultation. Se habla español.