Off-Road and Recreational Motorists in Washington State Should Use Caution

Washington State offers numerous and varied outdoor opportunities throughout the year. Whether you prefer water skiing, snow skiing, four-wheeling or snowmobiling, Washington State has the terrain for you. Many of these outdoor recreational activities, however, carry a significant risk of personal injury, as evidenced by last week’s “jeeping” accident in the Little Naches Area.

According to news reports, a 66-year-old Washington resident was jeeping, or four-wheeling through rocky terrain, with other members of an off-road motorists club at the time of the accident. The driver was trying to maneuver his 1974 Land Rover up a particularly steep portion of the Kanner Flat Trail from Lily Pond Lake when the gears in the rear differential apparently broke. The vehicle was halfway up the hill at this point but began to roll backward and flipped over, trapping the driver.

When emergency personnel arrived, the driver was unconscious under the overturned and partially crushed Jeep. He was airlifted to nearby Yakima Regional Medical Center. He reportedly suffered several fractured ribs and lower-back fractures but was lucky enough not to have suffered any life-threatening injuries.

The Dangers of Off-Roading

For many drivers, there is nothing like pushing a vehicle to its limits through rough and unforgiving terrain. While this can certainly be enjoyable and even stress-reducing, it can also be dangerous. Depending on the time of year, drivers could face anything from heat stroke to hyperthermia if they become stranded off-road. By the very nature of the sport, there will not be a convenience store close by where you can stop for help or make a phone call if something goes wrong.

In addition, many off-road vehicles are inherently dangerous by design. According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission there were 317 deaths and another 115,000 emergency room visits in 2010 as a result of ATV accidents nationwide. The year before, 649 ATV-related deaths were reported. The risk of serious injury or death does diminish when the weather turns cold and outdoor enthusiasts turn to snowmobiling. According to the National Institute of Health, there are approximately 200 snowmobile deaths annually across the country and about 15,000 injuries.

Whether you are four-wheeling or riding an ATV or snowmobile, the following circumstances may contribute to or cause an accident or injury:

  • Design defect in the vehicle
  • Lack of proper education/training
  • Lack of proper safety equipment
  • Weather conditions
  • Failure to use a guide who knows the area.

If you plan to partake in an outdoor recreational sport such as jeeping, four-wheeling, or snowmobiling, you can take steps to reduce the chances of serious injury or death. Consider the following:

  • Never go alone.
  • Take a training course before going out.
  • Let at least one person know where you will be and when you are expected back.
  • Pack an extensive emergency kit that includes flares, blankets, water, first aid and other essentials that are appropriate for the weather and activity.
  • Wear proper safety gear.
  • Check the weather before leaving and pay attention to the sky once you are out.
  • Perform regular maintenance on your vehicle.
  • Never ride with someone who is inexperienced.

Get a Free Consultation with a Washington Accident Lawyer

If you are injured in an ATV or off-road vehicle accident despite taking precautions, you should take the time to talk to a Yakima-area accident attorney. Someone else’s negligence may be to blame for the accident. If you suspect your injuries were caused by the negligence of another person or entity, have your case evaluated the experienced Washington State accident attorneys at The Mariano Morales Law. Contact the team today by calling (509) 853-2222 or by using our online contact form for your free initial consultation.