How Much is an ATV Accident Settlement Worth?

Explore potential settlement amounts for common types of ATV accident injuries. Learn who should pay, and factors that can limit your compensation.

Of all off-road motor vehicles, all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) cause the most injuries and fatalities each year. One out of ten victims is permanently disabled.¹

Twenty-six percent of injured ATV riders are under the age of sixteen. Sadly, more than 600 riders are killed each year.²

Serious injuries from ATV accidents can have expensive, long-term consequences. Your financial recovery will start with seeking fair compensation to help pay for medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering.

Settlement Value of 5 Common ATV Injuries

Insurance companies generally insist on a confidentiality clause in any settlement agreement. However, we can estimate how much ATV settlements might be worth based on five common types of ATV injuries.

The estimates assume a young adult victim of an ATV accident. Lost wages are based on a 40 hour work week, earning $15 per hour.

A common method for calculating the value of a mild injury claim is to total the victim’s medical expenses, out-of-pocket costs, and lost wages (economic damages), then add one or two times that amount to account for pain and suffering (non-economic damages). The total of your economic and non-economic damages is a reasonable estimate of your claim’s value.

Severe or fatal injury cases must be valued on a case-by-case basis by an experienced personal injury attorney.

1. Concussions

Concussions are a mild form of traumatic brain injury. Even riders who wear a helmet can suffer a concussion if they are thrown from an ATV and land on their head. Serious head injuries are different than concussions, and can cause permanent damage.

The average treatment cost for a mild concussion runs about $800. If the victim misses a week of work waiting for the headaches to let up, their lost wages would equal $600. This totals $1,400 in special damages. Adding $2,800 for pain and suffering makes this claim’s value approximately $4,200.

2. Broken Bones – Collarbone

Trying to catch yourself after falling from a moving ATV can easily result in a broken collarbone. Even without surgery, the cost of X-rays and orthopedic visits can reach $1,500.

Workers who need both hands to do their job may lose up to 12 weeks in wages, totaling $7,200. Adding $17,400 for pain and suffering ($8,700 x 2) comes to a potential claim value of $26,100.

3. Spinal Cord Injuries

Spinal cord injuries (and disabling brain injuries) are among the most catastrophic injuries arising from ATV crashes. The cost of living with a spinal cord injury can range from $347,484 to $1,064,716 just for the first year.

Catastrophic injury claims must be handled by an experienced personal injury attorney to come anywhere near an amount of fair compensation. Settlement values should include future medical bills, a lifetime of lost earning capacity, custodial care, and compensation for the accident victim’s extreme pain and suffering.

4. Knees and Legs

Four-wheeler operators and passengers are vulnerable to knee and leg injuries if the vehicle rolls over on them. The average cost of arthroscopic knee surgery is $19,000. A person who must be on their feet for work could lose 6 weeks of lost wages, or $3,600.

With $22,600 in hard costs, plus $45,200 for general damages, a fair settlement value for a knee injury is approximately $67,800.

5. Traumatic Internal Injuries

The weight of an ATV in a rollover accident can cause significant internal injuries, often requiring emergency surgery. The median hospital cost for a ruptured spleen is more than $14,000. Figuring in ambulance costs and follow-up medical care, the medical expenses are easily $20,000. Recovery from spleen surgery can take as long as eight weeks, amounting to $4,800 in lost wages.

Economic damages of $24,800 plus $49,600 for pain and suffering adds up to a potential settlement value of $75,000. This is without considering any future medical issues. If future medical treatment is required, the settlement amount could greatly increase.

Who Should Pay for ATV Injuries?

There can easily be more than one party to blame for an off-road vehicle accident. Liable parties may have insurance coverage, personal assets, or other financial resources you and your attorney can pursue for compensation.

Potentially liable parties to an ATV crash include:

  • The driver
  • The driver’s parents, if the driver was a minor at the time of the crash
  • The off-road vehicle owner
  • Manufacturers of defective parts or equipment
  • The property owner where the crash occurred
  • Drivers and owners of other vehicles involved in the collision

Locating Available Insurance Coverage

Don’t expect potentially liable parties to volunteer information about their insurance policies and personal assets. It may take hiring an attorney and filing a lawsuit to uncover all viable sources of injury compensation.

Potential sources for compensation:

  •  The ATV owner and driver’s car insurance policy may cover off-road vehicle accident claims.
  • When a collision involves an ATV and a car or truck, you may have grounds for a claim against the car driver’s auto insurance policy.
  • The negligent person’s homeowners policy. In some cases, parents are legally responsible for injuries their children cause.
  • Some property owners have an umbrella insurance policy to cover claims that exceed their auto or homeowner’s insurance limits.
  • Owners of business or commercial properties that provide or allow ATV use are likely to carry business liability insurance.
  • The at-fault party’s personal assets, including homes and land

Establishing Fault for ATV Accidents

When you or your injured child have suffered through an ATV accident caused by someone else, you’ll expect to be compensated. Figuring out who may be to blame, and how to prove their fault can be tricky.

  • ATV owners, drivers, and parents of minor drivers have a duty of care to make sure whoever drives the vehicle operates it safely so as not to injure themselves or their passengers.
  • Property owners have a duty of care to make sure the land where enthusiasts drive off-road vehicles is free from dangerous conditions.
  • Manufacturers and distributors of the ATV’s parts and equipment have a duty of care to make the vehicle safe.

When a person or business violates their duty of care, they are negligent. When that negligence causes an accident, the injured victim has grounds to pursue compensation for their damages.

To win an insurance claim or an injury lawsuit, you’ll need to prove four things:

  1. The at-fault party owed you a duty of care
  2. The at-fault party negligently breached that duty
  3. The at-fault party’s negligence caused the accident
  4. The accident caused verifiable injuries to you or your child

To receive compensation for injuries in an off-road accident case, you have the burden to prove who caused your injuries and the extent of your damages.  Your best proof comes from collecting good evidence.

Effective evidence in four-wheeler accident claims includes:

  • Witness statements of the circumstances leading up to the accident, as well as what they saw and heard during the accident
  • Proof of the driver’s age, particularly for underage drivers
  • Admissions made by the driver, like “I didn’t see that hill coming up,” or “I had too much to drink,” or “I lost control”
  • Photographs or videos capturing images of the area where the accident occurred, evidence of drug or alcohol use, and reckless driving
  • Incident reports from responding police or fire and rescue personnel
  • Medical narratives from emergency room doctors directly linking your injuries to the accident, as well as your treatment and rehab records

Factors That Impact Payouts for ATV Accidents

If you walked away from an off-road vehicle accident with minor soft-tissue injuries like bruises, muscle strain, or a mild whiplash, you can probably negotiate a fair settlement directly with the insurance company.

You need an attorney for severe injury cases. Life-altering injuries, like multiple fractures, spinal cord injuries, and traumatic brain injuries are high-dollar claims. A good attorney can discover insurance policies and personal assets of the at-fault parties that you would not be able to pursue on your own.

Product liability lawsuits against the ATV manufacturer may result in multi-million dollar payouts. The litigation process is expensive and may take years, but could be worth it if your loved one is permanently disabled.

Insurance companies are notorious for offering less to badly injured victims who don’t have legal representation.

Limited Insurance or Assets

No matter the severity of your injuries, your payout will be limited to the availability of funds, usually the limits of the at-fault party’s insurance policy.

If there is no available insurance, you may be better off using your personal health care coverage to pay for your treatment. Likewise, if you’ve recovered from minor injuries, it’s probably not worth hiring an attorney to file a lawsuit. However, you may be able to seek compensation from the at-fault party through your local small claims court.

You have nothing to lose by discussing your injury claim with an ATV accident attorney. Most personal injury attorneys offer free consultations. If your attorney has verified there is no applicable insurance, and the at-fault party has no assets to pursue, ask about getting a judgment against the at-fault person. You may then preserve the right to garnish future wages.

Shared Blame Can Bar or Reduce Victim Compensation

It’s not always easy to root out who’s to blame for accidents that result in serious or fatal injuries. Sometimes the injury victim shares part of the blame for the circumstances surrounding the wreck.

No matter how badly you’ve been hurt, if you share the blame for your injuries, your potential compensation award can be significantly reduced or completely forfeit. The at-fault party’s insurance company or defense lawyer will always look for reasons to put part of the blame on the victim.

Injured children, even teens, may not be held to the same standards for negligence as an adult. Always consult a local personal injury lawyer about four-wheeler accidents involving minors. 

Assumption of risk happens when you voluntarily enter a dangerous situation fully aware of the risk involved. The argument will be that you knew it was dangerous, you could have avoided the situation, but you did it anyway.

Example: Assumption of Risk for Operating an ATV While Intoxicated 

Max spent the afternoon at the lodge tossing back shots of bourbon with his buddies. Later, they decided it would be fun to rent some ATVs and explore the trails.

Max crashed his ATV into a tree, suffering multiple fractures and a traumatic brain injury. His hospital records showed a blood alcohol level just over the legal limit.

Max lost his injury compensation case against the lodge. Max assumed the risk of driving an off-road vehicle while intoxicated. The lodge was not responsible for his injuries.

Comparative negligence and contributory negligence are similar to assumption of risk, in that the injured person shares the blame for the circumstances that caused their injuries. Comparative negligence rules vary from state to state.

A few states have rules that leave you empty-handed if you share any blame for an accident. However, most states allow the injured person to pursue compensation from the at-fault party, even if you are partly to blame for the accident.

Generally, your portion of the blame is deducted from your eligible compensation.

Example: Injured ATV Passenger Shares Blame for His Injuries 

Brad bought a used ATV. He was proudly showing off his new purchase to his neighbor, Ted.

Brad told Ted he got a good deal on the on the ATV because the brakes were shot and the steering was sketchy. He admitted to Ted that he’d never driven an ATV before.

Brad was eager to take a ride, and Ted hopped on behind him.

A few minutes later, Brad slammed the ATV into a tree. Both men were seriously injured. Ted filed a lawsuit against Brad demanding $10,000 for his medical costs.

While the jury found Brad was to blame for driving an unsafe vehicle, he wasn’t the only one to blame for Ted’s injuries.

Brad’s attorney convinced the jury that Ted knew the brakes were dangerous and Brad had no experience driving an ATV, but egged Brad on to go for a ride.

The jury found that Ted was equally to blame for his injuries. Under the state’s comparative negligence rules, Ted was awarded $5,000 of his $10,000 demand. The award was reduced by 50 percent, reflecting Ted’s portion of the blame for his injuries.

Don’t let the insurance company decide your share of fault. There’s no obligation, and it costs nothing to find out what an experienced ATV accident attorney can do for you. Get the compensation you deserve for you or your loved one.

ATV Accident Questions & Answers

Charles R. Gueli, Esq. is a personal injury attorney with over 20 years of legal experience. He’s admitted to the NY State Bar, and been named a Super Lawyer for the NY Metro area, an exclusive honor awarded to the top five percent of attorneys. Charles has worked extensively in the areas of auto accidents,... Read More >>