Product Liability

FL woman suffers head injuries in ATV wreck

A 38-year-Florida old woman suffered severe injuries, including a skull fracture and broken hand, when the Yamaha Rhino Utility Terrain Vehicle she was riding in rolled over.

Rachel A. Jollimore was a passenger in the vehicle when the driver swerved to avoid hitting a tree, causing the Rhino to roll over on its side. Jollimore was pinned underneath the UTV, the website Ocala.com reported. Jollimore and the driver were riding the UTV through a field in Silver Springs when the accident occurred.

Jollimore says that she has been considerably impaired since the July 2007 accident. “I have to watch what I do. I can’t pick anything up heavy. I can bend, but I have a limited ability. I can’t sleep on my stomach,” she told Ocala.com

Jollimore has filed suit against Yamaha, a manufacturing division of Yamaha, and the Ocala dealer that sold the Rhino, alleging that the vehicle possesses a number of design flaws that make it unsafe, including high center of gravity, narrow track width, narrow wheels and tires, and side-by-side seating, all of which contribute to the vehicle’s propensity to roll over in certain conditions.

The suit is one of the latest in a growing number of lawsuits against Yamaha throughout the country. About 200 lawsuits involving the Rhino UTV have been filed to date in both state and federal courts.

Dozens of deaths in the United States have been attributed to Rhino accidents.

Yamaha has issued safety notices in the past and recommends users take certain precautions while riding in a Rhino, but the UTV is not bound to any current federal regulations because it belongs to a new breed of off-road vehicles.

“When there is no standard in place, we have to basically determine if there’s a substantial risk of injury and death, and there’s a hurdle there that has to be met,” Jay Howell of the Consumer Product Safety Committee told the Wall Street Journal.

Regulations for consumer products often come into being long after a product has hit the market. Products with no safety regulations or other protective standards may cause harm to consumers, resulting in injury reports and attracting the attention of the manufacturers and regulators – a process that is often driven by law firms representing consumers who were injured by the product.