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Why Riding ATVs Is a Dangerous Activity for TeensEach year in the U.S., hundreds of people die and thousands more are injured in accidents involving all-terrain vehicles (ATVs). Riding an ATV can be dangerous for people of any age or skill level, but children and teens seem to be particularly at risk of being injured or killed. Riders younger than 16 make up a quarter of those who are injured in ATV accidents and a third of those who are killed. Before you allow your child to operate an ATV, you should understand why it is a risky activity and how you can best protect them.

Lack of Regulation

Unlike with most other motorized vehicles, Illinois does not have any restrictions on how old you must be to operate an ATV or requirements for safely using an ATV, such as helmets or passenger limits. Instead, it is up to the riders to learn how to safely operate the vehicle. Even in states that have stricter rules, it can be difficult to enforce those rules because people usually ride ATVs on private properties and not public roads.

Dangerous Vehicles

The design of most ATVs makes them prone to rollovers and leaves the rider exposed to injury. ATVs have a high center of gravity, and many lack safety features such as rollover bars, seatbelts, and safety cages. Having an additional passenger on an ATV meant for one person can throw off the balance during turns. If you add the uneven terrain and people riding at unsafe speeds, you have a recipe for disaster. A rider or passenger can be thrown from the vehicle or pinned underneath it after a rollover.

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What Are Common Injuries You Can Suffer in a Head-On Collision?A head-on collision may be the most frightening type of car crash you can be involved in. Seeing another vehicle coming at you in the same lane is startling, and you may not have the time or maneuverability to avoid the collision. The aftermath of a head-on collision can be just as scary for those involved, even if they were wearing safety belts and their airbags deployed. Head-on collisions are the most deadly type of crash because a collision between two vehicles heading opposite directions will have a greater force and cause more violent damage to the vehicles. If you are fortunate enough to survive the crash, you may suffer serious injuries with long-lasting effects on your life. Common injuries that people in head-on collisions sustain include:

  1. Traumatic Brain Injuries: Your brain is an area of particular concern following a head-on collision. During the collision, your head likely jerked forward while the rest of your body was held in place by your safety belt. This can cause brain injuries if your head strikes a surface or if your brain is jostled against your skull. Brain injuries can take longer for you to notice than other injuries, but the consequences can have a profound effect on your ability to think and function.
  2. Neck and Spine Injuries: Along with your head, your neck is not as secured as the rest of your body during a head-on collision, which can lead to whiplash. The collision can also potentially damage your spine through cracked vertebrae or a herniated disc. Spinal injuries can cause partial or total paralysis.
  3. Chest and Abdomen Injuries: Though the safety belt and airbags protect you from being propelled forward during a head-on collision, the force with which you are stopped can cause damage to your chest and abdomen. You may suffer cracked or broken ribs or internal organ damage if they are pierced by your broken ribs or an instrument in your vehicle.
  4. Lower Body Injuries: Your legs and feet will absorb much of the impact during a head-on collision, which can cause torn ligaments and broken bones. Those injuries may be worsened if your legs strike the instrument panel of your vehicle or are crushed in the vehicle wreckage.

Contact a McHenry County Personal Injury Lawyer

With the extensive injuries that can result from a head-on collision, it will be important to pursue compensation if another driver was at fault for the crash. A Crystal Lake, Illinois, personal injury lawyer at Botto Gilbert Lancaster, PC, can help you receive damages that will cover your medical expenses and compensate you for your pain and suffering. Schedule a free consultation by calling 815-338-3838.

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Which State Has Jurisdiction in a Product Liability Lawsuit?If you decide to file a personal injury lawsuit, you would obviously prefer for the case to be heard in a court that is local to you. This should not be a concern if the defendant resides or does business in your home state. However, there may be a question of jurisdiction if you are dealing with a defendant who resides in a different state. State jurisdiction over product liability cases has become contentious because of a 2017 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that set stricter requirements for proving that a state has the authority to hear a case involving a non-resident defendant. The ruling has made it easier for corporate defendants to request a case dismissal due to lack of jurisdiction.

Personal Jurisdiction

Part of deciding whether a state has jurisdiction over a case is determining whether the state has authority over the defendant, known as personal jurisdiction. Many defendants in product liability cases are businesses that have headquarters in a different state from where the case is being heard. However, there are many ways to establish personal jurisdiction over a non-resident defendant. First of all, your jurisdiction claim is its strongest if you purchased the product and were injured in the same state where you are filing. You may also need to prove that the defendant had minimum contact with you in your state, such as:

  • Operating a branch office or warehouse in your state that is related to the product that caused your injury
  • Soliciting you to purchase the product by catalog, phone call, or other means of product marketing

Lack of Minimum Contact

The Supreme Court ruling emphasized that a state cannot claim personal jurisdiction over a defendant without minimum contact that is relevant to the case. For instance, a defendant may own property in your state where it conducts business or manufactures products that are unrelated to your case. Courts in many states had allowed jurisdiction over personal injury lawsuits based on this evidence, but some courts are now citing the Supreme Court ruling and saying that this evidence is not enough to prove minimum contact.

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Does Not Wearing a Safety Belt Hurt Your Personal Injury Lawsuit?Buckling up while in a car is not only the law but potentially a life-saving practice. According to the National Highway Travel Safety Administration, 47 percent of the people who died in vehicle crashes in 2017 were not wearing a safety belt. Not wearing a safety belt or wearing it improperly puts you at risk of being thrown out of the vehicle during a crash or hitting your head inside the vehicle. In Illinois, all drivers and passengers age 8 and older are required to wear a safety belt, with a violation being a $25 fine. There is a separate car seat requirement for passengers younger than 8. Can you file a personal injury lawsuit if you were injured in an accident while not wearing a safety belt? Illinois law does not allow a defendant in a personal injury lawsuit to use the plaintiff’s lack of a safety belt as evidence that the plaintiff was negligent.

Seatbelt Defense

Illinois uses comparative fault to determine how much compensation a plaintiff will receive in a personal injury lawsuit. If the plaintiff was liable in part for the accident, their award in a lawsuit will be reduced. The percentage they receive from the award they request in the lawsuit will be equal to the percentage of fault that the defendant shared for the accident. If the plaintiff is more than 50 percent at fault, they will receive nothing.

In some states, the defendant in a personal injury case is allowed to argue that the plaintiff’s negligence in not wearing a safety belt was partially responsible for their injuries. However, Illinois is one of the states that does not allow the “seatbelt defense.” Illinois’ law requiring safety belts includes a section stating that a violation of the law is not evidence of negligence and cannot limit someone’s ability to receive:

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Gathering Evidence for a Premises Liability ClaimProperty owners owe a duty of care to create a reasonably safe environment for people they invite onto their premises. If you are injured due to a safety hazard while visiting someone’s property, you may be entitled to personal injury compensation through the premises liability laws. Proving that a property owner owed a duty of care is usually straightforward. As long as you had permission to be on the property, the duty of care should exist. However, it is more difficult to prove that the property owner should be liable for the conditions that caused your injury. They may not be liable if:

  • The hazard was apparent and could have been avoided
  • They could not have reasonably been aware of the hazard
  • You acted in a reckless manner that created your injury risk

Gathering evidence is a key step in proving a premises liability claim. Here are four types of evidence that could help:

  1. Pictures from the Scene: If you can identify the hazard that caused your injury, you should immediately take photographic evidence of the hazard. Do not rely on coming back to take pictures later, when the property owner may have had time to put up warning signs or fix the hazard. The court needs to see the property conditions at the time of your accident to understand why the property owner is liable.
  2. Witnesses: If someone saw your accident as it happened, they can testify about how the accident occurred and whether they noticed the hazard themselves. Talk to potential witnesses at the scene and ask for their names and contact information. Your lawyer can decide whether they would be good witnesses and do the work of getting them to testify.
  3. Video Evidence: Depending on the location, there may have been security cameras that captured your accident. You can file a subpoena to obtain a copy of the recording, which may support your claim about the hazard that caused your injury.
  4. Documents: The property owner may say that they did not know about the hazard on their property, but there may be documents that contradict them. For instance, they may have received a notice from a safety inspector about the hazard and the danger it could pose to visitors.

Contact a McHenry County Personal Injury Attorney

By gathering enough evidence on your premises liability claim, you improve your chances of winning your lawsuit or receiving a settlement offer from the property owner. A Crystal Lake, Illinois, personal injury lawyer at Botto Gilbert Lancaster, PC, can find the evidence that will be most relevant to your case. Schedule a free consultation by calling 815-338-3838.

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