When the Yamaha Rhino emerged onto the off-road vehicle market in 2003, it was heralded as the safer alternative to three wheeled all-terrain vehicles, or ATVs. It was a new category of vehicle called “recreational off-highway vehicles” or ROVs. The Rhino was considered safer than ATVs due to its numerous safety features like a roll cage, four wheels, seatbelts, and a steering wheel. However, numerous safety issues with the vehicle soon arose, explains an Orange County ROV injury lawyer.
Authorities received hundreds of reports of accidents, many of them involving serious crush injuries. The Yamaha weighs over 1,100 pounds and, with its narrow stance and unstable nature, this led to many rollovers and severe injuries.
In addition to the 25 injured Yamaha employees testing the prototype, the vice-president of the company had his toes broken in a rollover accident. The company continues to claim that that the Rhino is a safe vehicle and that the injuries have occurred due to risky driving behavior and underage drivers. Yet many rollovers have occurred when the vehicle was riding on a level surface and going between 5-10mph.
The company now faces close to 700 wrongful death and injury claims due to this vehicle, explains an Orange County ROV injury lawyer. Close to one-quarter of all lawsuits are scheduled for Orange County Superior Court here in California. The first Orange County case is scheduled to go to trial in November for Daniel Swainston, a California man who suffered a crushed leg after his son was driving his Yamaha Rhino at low speed in the Sequoia National Forest.
California leads the nation in off-road vehicle deaths. Since 1982, over 516 deaths have occurred with several thousand injuries reported. Our state is blessed with beautiful public areas and national/state parks; this makes it an off-roader’s paradise.
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission has created a new website, which covers states’ legislation, national data and safety tips for off-road vehicles. A few things to remember before you venture out:
• Always wear protective gear-especially a helmet. Make sure the helmet is certified by the Department of Transportation (DOT) for motorized sports.
• Never drive ATVs on paved roads. Due to their configuration, they are not manufactured for pavement and many fatalities have occurred on these roads due to lack of maneuverability.
• Do not let children drive off-road vehicles. One-third of all ATV deaths are children driving adult made off-road vehicles.
• Never drive this type of vehicle under the influence of drugs or alcohol. This could impair two essential skills for driving these vehicles, judgment and reaction time.
• Take a “hands on” safety course. Training lowers your injury risk significantly.
Additional information on ROV accidents and safety issues is available to the public free of charge.
To request an article or a book, or to speak with an Orange County ROV injury lawyer, feel free to call 866-981-5596.