ATV Hunting Accident Attorney
All-terrain vehicles are useful tools for hunters, allowing them to access remote areas and haul equipment and game. But ATVs can also be dangerous, especially when drivers don’t know the limitations of their vehicles.
According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, from 1982 through 2015, Texas had more ATV-related fatalities (780) than any other state. The number of fatal ATV accidents has grown as more people purchase and use ATVs, and ATV-related hunting injuries are becoming more common.
Causes of ATV Accidents and Injuries
A study published in 2007 in Wilderness and Environmental Medicine looked at injuries and illnesses in western Colorado big-game hunters over a 9-year period. Researchers found that 7 percent of emergency room visits were due to ATV use or motor vehicle crashes. The top causes of ATV-related injuries were excessive speed, steep terrain, or attempts to drag field-dressed animals with the ATV.
ATVs also have weight limits and passenger limits. Large game can overload vehicles or cause them to handle unpredictably. Such was the case in New Hampshire, when a hunter carrying a black bear on his ATV was descending a mountain and his vehicle rolled over.
This advice may help keep hunters safe when transporting large game and heavy gear:
- Outdoor Life magazine advises hunters to put heavy cargo, such as field-dressed deer, on the rear rack, and to strap it in firmly, as rough terrain can cause cargo to shift. If the front end of the ATV lifts because of the weight, the cargo is too heavy and should be dragged rather than placed on the vehicle.
- North American Whitetail magazine advises hunters to know the weight limits of their racks (usually 200 pounds for the rear rack and 100 pounds for the front rack). It also recommends buying compatible accessories, such as rack extenders and tree-stand carriers, to safely transport equipment.
Laws for Safe Operation
Texas forbids ATVs, off-road vehicles (ORV), and off-highway vehicles (OHV) from traveling on highways, except under special circumstances. If an accident occurs under these rare conditions, consulting with an Austin motorcycle accident lawyer can provide guidance on legal rights and responsibilities. ORVs and OHVs are both considered “utility type” vehicles (UTV), meaning they can haul more than ATVs can; ATVs are smaller and quicker, and the rider leans forward, as if riding a motorcycle.
All of these vehicles are permitted on highways only if:
- The driver is a public utility worker or law enforcement officer
- The driver is a farmer or rancher traveling no more than 25 miles
- The vehicle is owned by state or local government and is driven on a public beach or highway to maintain public safety and welfare.
Aside from roadway restrictions, the use of ATVs and UTVs is prohibited in some natural areas, too. The only National Forests and Grasslands trail in Texas that allows OHVs is the Multiple Use Trail located in the Sam Houston National Forest.
Texas Parks & Wildlife does not allow ATVs on State Wildlife Management lands or on leased Type II Permit (hunting permit) lands unless the ATV operator has a current handicapped license plate or handicapped hang placard. With a handicapped plate or placard, the operator may ride the ATV directly to and from their place to hunt or fish, but recreational trail riding is prohibited.
Driving through rocky, remote, and unfamiliar areas increases the risk of accident and injury. And traveling on the highway or highway shoulder has resulted in at least one accident that killed one person and seriously injured two others who were riding on the ATV.
Passengers are at the mercy of ATV drivers. They trust those people to safely operate their vehicles, but too often, passengers suffer serious or fatal injuries due to a driver’s inexperience or reckless driving.
Help for Injury Victims
If you’ve suffered an injury in an ATV or UTV accident and believe someone else is to blame for the crash, you could be entitled to compensation that can help with medical costs, lost wages, and associated expenses. Request your no-obligation case consultation online or by calling the Evans/Reilley Law Firm at 1-855-414-1012.