Fatal ATV Accident in Douglas County, Kansas

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The body of a Kansas man was found around 8:00 a.m. on Saturday, October 8, 2011 in Douglas County. He was the apparent victim of an ATV accident late Friday night or early Saturday morning, according to the Kansas City Star and KAKE television. There have been no reports of other fatalities or other people or vehicles involved in the accident. The situation is similar to a single-car automobile accident. Where it differs is in how all-terrain vehicles, or ATV’s are regulated by the law.

Kansas and Missouri each have rules for registration of ATV’s and regulations regarding when and where people may operate them. Both states require ATV owners to have proper title documents. Neither state allows operation of an ATV on a highway. Neither state, however, has a specific license requirement like the requirement to get a license to drive a car or a motorcycle.

Missouri has stricter rules regarding ATV’s than Kansas. Missouri requires anyone using an ATV, as operator or passenger, who is under the age of 18 to wear a helmet. It prohibits anyone under the age of 16 from operating an ATV unless accompanied by a parent or on a parent’s property. It also restricts the situations in which someone can ride an ATV as a passenger. The Missouri State Police regulate ATV’s and enforce the rules regarding their operation. The Missouri Department of Revenue handles registration and taxes.

No Kansas state agency has specific regulatory authority over ATV’s. Titling and registration is handled in the same manner as automobiles, but there is no minimum age to operate an ATV, no requirements regarding safety equipment, and no restrictions on passengers.

During the period from 1982 to 2009, according to the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission, there were 124 reported deaths due to ATV accidents in Kansas, including 34 children under the age of 16. The total in Missouri for the same time period was 303, including 67 children under 16. Some studies suggest that the fatality rate for ATV’s has been increasing in recent years.

Without clear legal guidelines identifying who may operate an ATV, establishing liability in an ATV accident is a matter of proving negligence according to the ordinary legal standard. A person injured in an ATV accident must show that another person owed a duty of care and breached that duty, and that the breach caused the person’s injuries. An injured person must also show that they were not negligent in the accident. In Missouri, a passenger on an ATV in a situation where passengers are prohibited by law may have difficulty proving they were free of negligence.

The Kansas City injury attorneys at Horn Law can help people who have been injured in accidents involving ATV’s and other vehicles. Contact them today to schedule a free and confidential consultation to discuss your case.

Web Resources:

List of ATV Recalls, ATVSafety.gov (part of the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission)

ATV regulations in Kansas, ATVSafety.gov

Kansas Attorney General Opinion No. 94-102 re: Application of Motor Vehicle Laws to ATVs, August 17, 1994

ATV regulations in Missouri, ATVSafety.gov

Titling & Registration Requirements for All-Terrain Vehicles, Missouri Department of revenue