A wrongful death suit has been filed against Polaris Industries, a Minnesota company, by the families of two women who died last year in Utah after the ATV, on which they were riding, caught fire after rolling over.
The lawsuit alleges that a defect in the Polaris Ranger 800 model allowed fuel to pour out and cover the Arizona women, Destiny Dixon, 28, and Debbie Swann, 51, then igniting and engulfing them in flames before they could unbuckle their seatbelts.
The lawsuit was filed in Minnesota where the company has headquarters in Medina and seeks an undisclosed amount of damages.
A spokesperson for Polaris, Kelly Basgen, expressed sadness on behalf of the company, but said in a Sept. 2, 2016 email that Polaris stands behind the design of the Ranger.
Basgen said the rollover occurred in a “highly technical and very extreme riding area commonly known as the Tip-Over Challenge.”
She continued by saying, “The 2010 Ranger complies with all applicable standards and is safely designed for it’s intended use.”
Dixon was the driver of the ATV and Swann was in the passenger seat while riding on a path known as “Hell’s Revenge Trail,” near Moab Utah, which attracts ATV enthusiasts from all over. The ATV slowly rolled over on the passenger side and slid backward.
Almost immediately, gasoline poured over the women and ignited so fast that they had no time to escape, according to the lawsuit.
“They were burned to death before they could release their seatbelts,” the lawsuit says.
The lawsuit claims that the gas tank is located too close to where the riders sit and is not properly protected. To date, Polaris vehicles have been involved in 247 fires.
This is one of several lawsuits for deaths and injuries against the company that has been plagued with many large recalls.
In April of this year there were two recalls by the company. Approximately 51,000 ATV’s were recalled due to a heat shield that can fall off causing burns and fires. There were 13 reported incidents and five reported fires as a result of the defect. In addition, another 3,800 ATV’s were recalled for a power steering issue that can lead to a crash.
In Australia and Europe, 35,000 Polaris ATV’s were recalled due to asbestos bans this past June. So far that recall has not affected ATV’s sold in the US.
How Safe are ATV’s?
In 2015, the last year of complete statistics, the U.S Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) reported that there were 347 ATV related fatalities. The CPSC also reported that there were an estimated 97,200 ATV related injuries treated in emergency departments nationwide. Children under the age of 16 were estimated at 28 percent of those treated.
Of the 97,200 reported injuries, 85 percent were categorized as treated and released. Contusions and abrasions accounted for 23 percent of emergency department treated injuries while fractures accounted for 25 percent. These numbers showed no significant change from the year before.
Among the more serious injuries reported from ATV accidents were traumatic brain injuries, spinal injuries and internal organ damage.
ATV accidents happen for many different reasons. Some of the reasons can be driver error or carelessness, alcohol and/or drugs, dangerous terrain, defective equipment and other ATV drivers.
Get your ATV Accident Evaluated for Free
If you were seriously injured in an ATV accident seek proper medical attention first. Then find a qualified ATV accident attorney who will offer a free evaluation of your case. ATV injuries are often serious and can cost an enormous amount of money over a lifetime in medical expenses, rehabilitation, special needs and lost income. The personal injury attorney will take your case on contingency. In other words you only pay if you are awarded money.
Vititoe Law Group is a highly experienced California accident injury law firm. If you were injured in an ATV accident, meet with a qualified accident lawyer to determine if the accident was the fault of another. In some cases it could be another driver, the manufacturer or even the property owner. You could be entitled to compensation for your injuries. Call 818-851-1886 today for a free consultation.