ATV Accident Resulting in Amputated Leg Results in $2.2 Million Settlement


June 08, 2011

A case was recently settled in South Carolina that awarded a plaintiff, who was injured in an ATV accident, a $2.2 million settlement. No lawsuit was filed; the attorney for the plaintiff just made a demand on the defendant's insurer.

The attorney used a state law doctrine that says an insurer has a duty to an insured to settle a personal injury claim covered under a policy when reasonable. The insurer is liable to the insured if its failure to settle results from fraud, bad faith or negligence. The insured can also assign his claim to a third party. That is what happened in this case, the assignee was the plaintiff.

Two men were riding on a Kawasaki Mule ATV with the defendant driving and the plaintiff in the passenger seat. The defendant made a sharp turn and the ATV rolled over causing the plaintiff's leg to be trapped under the ATV. The plaintiff had numerous leg fractures. The doctors were unable to save the leg so it had to be amputated from the knee down.

These direct economic costs of these injuries for the plaintiff were going to add up to about $1.5 million in lost wages, medical expenses and permanent disability. The ATV accident victim lost his job as a result of his amputation and will need to wear a prosthetic leg for the rest of his life.

The insurer was not eager to go to court because the case for liability against their insured was strong and the risk of the jury awarding substantial punitive damages plus a higher compensatory award was great. The limit on the policy was $2.5 million.

It also was revealed that both parties had been drinking while using the ATV so the defense attempted to use this to raise the issue of comparative negligence. This didn't work for them in this case because the driver operating the ATV under the influence actually caused the accident and resulting injuries.

ATV Accidents and Liability

When you own an ATV, you may be liable for any accidents that occur during the use of that ATV, especially if the ATV is entrusted to an operator that is inexperienced or a poor driver. As an owner, you run the risk of being sued for injuries or death caused by use of your ATV. Any situation with an ATV that results in injury or death to an ATV passenger may be a basis for liability against the driver of the ATV if it is being operated in an unsafe manner.

Georgia ATV accident victims may be able to establish a negligence claim by showing that the accident caused harm and was the result of unsafe operation of the ATV that deviated from that of a reasonable similarly situated ATV operator. ATV accidents can also result from defects in the design or manufacture of the vehicle in which case the manufacturer, distributor or seller also may be liable. If the driver and a passenger in the ATV are both at-fault for the accident, then liability may be allocated between them based upon the estimated percentage of fault, which could result in a reduction in the damages awarded.

Making Your Case

When you hire a qualified Georgia ATV accident attorney, the law firm may send out an investigator(s) to gather evidence about the defendant's role in the accident. The evidence that is gathered showing the defendant's apparent carelessness in causing the accident may be used by your attorney as proof in a negligence case against this other party.

The insurance company for the defendant may be financially responsible for the defendant's role in causing the accident. Your attorney will attempt to build the strongest case possible in making a formal settlement demand on the insurance company. If the insurance company fails to negotiate a reasonable settlement, the evidence developed can be used to establish negligence in a Georgia personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit.

Despite the danger posed by ATVs, it is reasonable to assume that their increasing popularity as a recreational toy will continue. These vehicles are inherently dangerous, and off-road use on rural terrain only increases the risk. The Georgia ATV accident atorneys of Montlick and Associates represent those seriously injured in accidents involving ATV's and other vehicles throughout the entire State of Georgia, including Albany, Athens, Atlanta, Augusta, Columbus, Macon, Marietta, Rome, Roswell, Savannah, Smyrna, Valdosta, Warner Robins, as well as every smaller town and rural area. Serving All Georgia Counties including Cherokee, Clayton, Cobb, DeKalb, Forsyth, Fulton, Gwinnett, Hall, Henry Counties. Contact Montlick & Associates for your Free Consulation at 1-800-LAW-NEED (1-800-529-6333), or visit us on the web at www.montlick.com. No matter where you are in Georgia we are only a phone call away, and we will travel to meet with you.

Category: Truck Accidents

Please Note:
Many of our blog articles discuss the law. All information provided about the law is very general in nature and should not be relied upon as legal advice. Every situation is different, and should be analyzed by a lawyer who can provide individualized advice based on the facts involved in your unique situation, and a consideration of all of the nuances of the statutes and case law that apply at the time.