Visitor Question

Legal liability for ATV rolling on top of me?

Submitted By: Anonymous (Swansea, Massachusetts)

On Aug 20 I rented an ATV in Maine for 4 hours and so did my boyfriend. An hour into the trip I went over a hill and my guide was nowhere to be seen. There was a sharp turn and I did not notice any caution signs atop of the hill. I saw the guide and tried to turn and meet them. This caused the ATV to flip, throwing me off and rolling over me. The ATV landed upright with minor plastic pieces broken a cracked helmet and a missing cluster (2017 Polaris 570 Sportsman).

I am severely bruised, and believe I have severely hurt and even broken part of my shoulder. I was simply brought back to the “base” and gave my account of the incident. I have yet to go to the hospital and just received the bill for the ATV (8/23/2017) they are asking for over $2,500+ in damages. We only rode for an hour (not the 4 we paid for) $269 +$15 gas each for a total of $568.

I want to negotiate the cost down. I can only imagine what my hospital bills will be. I simply don’t know what my legal rights are or what to do. I am a Massachusetts resident. Thank you for any information you can provide.

Disclaimer: Our response is not formal legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship. It is generic legal information based on the very limited information provided. Do not rely upon the information in our response, or anywhere else on this site, when deciding the proper course of a legal matter. Always get a personalized case review from a local attorney.

Answer

Dear Anonymous,

While you reside in the State of Massachusetts, the accident occurred in the State of Maine. As a result, Maine law applies.

ATV rental companies rarely, if ever, rent their vehicles unless the customer first signs a “Waiver of Liability,” also referred to as a “Release.” While we don’t have access to the Waiver you signed, the language within the Waiver is probably similar to the following:

“I understand and acknowledge there are risks of personal injury, death, and property damage while participating in ATV (All Terrain Vehicle) activities. My participation is voluntary and based on my independent assessment of the risks associated with the use of the ATV…By renting this ATV I hereby release, waive, and relinquish all claims and legal actions for personal injury, wrongful death, or property damage against (ATV Rental Company).”

You can review an example of an ATV waiver here:
Waiver of Liability Release – Express Assumption of Risk and Indemnity Agreement

Unless the ATV malfunctioned, and the malfunction was such that the ATV rental company knew (or should have known) of the malfunction and that it was likely to result in injuries, the Waiver you signed was binding.

Moreover, your failure to seek timely medical attention leaves a gap between the time of your injury and treatment. This leaves an opening for the ATV rental company’s attorney to assert that your injuries were due to a separate incident.

You have every right to negotiate the amount of money the ATV company is demanding for the damage you caused to their vehicle. To do so will require some work on your part. Ask the rental company for the make and model of the ATV and to provide you with a detailed list of the parts which need to be replaced, and the amount  of labor required to repair it. Next, go online and attempt to find the cost of the parts. Speak with several body shop repair companies to see what they would charge to repair the ATV.

Once you have completed those tasks, you may find the cost of repairs, including parts and labor, to be much lower than the demand amount from the ATV rental company. If so, you should be able to negotiate a lower  property damage settlement than the company initially demanded.

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

Best of luck,

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