All terrain vehicles (ATVs), while useful for getting work done and perhaps enjoyable for recreational purposes, present a very real safety risk for drivers and passengers. Though ATVs present the risk of serious injury to all who use them, children are particularly at risk. This is undoubtedly due to both their size and the lack of safety features on many of these machines.

Many states have addressed this problem by passing laws restricting the use of ATVs for certain age groups. Under Massachusetts law, children under the age of 10 are prohibited from riding on an ATV, and those under the age of 17 may not ride ATVs designed for adults, regardless of the level of supervision or training is involved. Further, these rules are enforced on both public and private property in order to ensure people don’t try to get around the rules. The latter point is a significant one.

Unfortunately, despite the law’s thoroughness, it hasn’t made as much of an impact on ATV deaths as had been hoped. A major reason for this is that there are not enough agents to enforce the law in rural and off-road areas. It is estimated that the state would need a minimum of 90 additional agents for off-road monitoring.

A variety of scenarios are possible with the use of ATVs. In cases where adults allow children to use or ride on an ATV in violation of state law, the adult could potentially be held liable for those injuries through negligent supervision or willful disregard of state law. In pursuing litigation in these cases, it is important to work with an experienced attorney to build the best personal injury case possible.

Source: Star Tribune, “Massachusetts Has Nation’s Toughest ATV Law,” Jeffrey Meitroidt, Jim Gehrz, Nov. 17, 2014.