All-Terrain Vehicle Accidents
The season for riding all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) in South Carolina is here again. These vehicles can be the source of a whole summer of outdoor fun, but riding them comes with its share of risks. Since ATVs are motorized vehicles that offer little more protection than a motorcycle, the chances of sustaining severe injuries in an ATV collision is considerable. Last summer, Jorge Bienavides of Charlotte visited Carolina Adventure World in Winnsboro, South Carolina. While he was riding an ATV at the park, his vehicle flipped over and landed on top of him. Bienavides was pronounced dead at the scene of the accident. He was 35 years old. The ATV accident that caused the untimely death of Jorge Bienavides is only the worst-case scenario, but ATV accidents can be catastrophic, even if they happen in areas that are ostensibly safe for ATV riding. If you got injured in an ATV accident, contact a Columbia premises liability lawyer.
South Carolina ATV Laws
All-terrain vehicles are motorized vehicles with three or four tires; you steer them with handlebars instead of a steering wheel. To qualify as an ATV, the width of the vehicle cannot exceed 50 inches. It is not legal to ride ATVs on public roads open to vehicular traffic. You don’t need a driver’s license to drive an ATV; in fact, children as young as six can drive them. When a person below the age of 16 drives an ATV, an adult must also be present in the vehicle, and the young driver must wear a helmet and eye protection.
Premises Liability or Recreational Use?
Since they do not typically ride in traffic, most ATV collisions are single-vehicle accidents. Therefore, the question of who is legally responsible when an ATV rider gets injured in an ATV accident relates largely to where the accident took place. If the accident took place at an ATV park where customers pay admission, whether they ride their own ATVs or rent them from the park, then premises liability laws apply. Premises liability means that the owner of a place of business is legally responsible for preventable accidents that occur on the premises. It is the same legal principle whether it is a wet supermarket floor where a customer slips and falls or an ATV crashes in an unsafe area of an ATV park. The law holds that business owners have a duty of care to customers to keep their places of business safe. Bienavides’s accident is probably covered under premises liability, since Carolina Recreation World charges admission.
Meanwhile, South Carolina’s Recreational Use states that limits the liability of property owners when they typically allow visitors to use their land for recreation without paying. That recreation could be not only ATV riding, but also hiking, camping, hunting, swimming, or boating.
Let Us Help You Today
The personal injury lawyers at the Stanley Law Group can help you if you suffered serious injuries in an ATV accident on public or private property. Contact The Stanley Law Group in Columbia, South Carolina or call (803)799-4700 for a free initial consultation.