Daughter injured on ATV... insurance refusing to pay medical bills?

by Ren
(Idaho)

Our unlicensed daughter went on an ATV "day date" with several classmates. It was our (the parents') understanding she would not be operating the ATV (4 wheeler), but rather be a passenger due to our daughter's inexperience.

Our daughter did end up driving the ATV with her date on back. Our daughter tried to turn while going too fast, stood it on two wheels and her classmate behind her clipped her and the ATV rolled.

The date is fine, but our daughter had to have surgery on her mangled foot and is severely concussed. The ATV owner's insurance claims no responsibility of medical bills due to find our daughter was at fault... regardless of the other ATV clipping her. One year later our daughter is still dealing with the injured foot and is going to the doctor for headaches.

Is it right, that the ATV owner's insurance has no obligation to pay any medical? Also note the date had borrowed the 4-wheeler from the owner. Who is liable in this situation? Is there any way to get daughter's medical bills covered? Thank you.

Visitor Question:
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ANSWER for "Daughter injured on ATV... insurance refusing to pay medical bills?":

Ren (Idaho):

You stated your daughter "tried to turn while going too fast, stood it on two wheels..." That is an inculpatory statement, meaning you are admitting your daughter was negligent, and as a result, was at fault for the accident and her resulting damages.

However, from the facts you present, your daughter wasn't solely at fault. The driver of the other ATV appears to have been following too closely when he clipped the ATV being driven by your daughter. As a result, that driver may share some legal liability for the crash and your daughter’s damages.

The State of Idaho is a Modified Comparative Negligence state.

Under Idaho's comparative fault statute, your daughter may recover for her injuries and related damages from the other driver, as both drivers shared responsibility for the crash. However, the amount of compensation your daughter can hope to receive would be diminished by the percentage of her contribution to the crash.

This will be true as long as your daughter’s negligence isn't determined to be 50% or higher. If her own negligence is determined to be 50% or higher, the law bars her from recovering any compensation from the other at-fault driver. This modified comparative fault statute is commonly referred to as the 50/50 rule.

To read Idaho’s modified comparative fault statute go to:
Iowa Revised Statutes - Chapter 8, Section 6-801

The owner of the the other ATV may be vicariously liable for your daughter’s share of damages. Vehicle owners, including ATV owners, are normally legally liable for the acts and omissions of those they permit to drive their vehicles, especially when those acts or omissions are negligent and result in injuries to others.

The above is general information. Laws change frequently, and across jurisdictions. You should get a personalized case evaluation from an attorney licensed in your state. Find a local attorney to give you a free case review here, or call (888) 647-2490.

Best of luck,

Judge Calisi

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