Yamaha Rhino ATV Rollover Lawsuits - Defective Product Lawyers
Serving Lexington, Camden, Columbia, Sumter, and Newberry, Aiken SC.
The Yamaha Rhino all-terrain vehicle was introduced by Yamaha in 2003, and has since become the company's top selling ATV. Their popularity is due to their side-by-side passenger configuration, which seems good for hunting, fishing or camping buddies to ride together. There is also a cargo area in the rear to allow transport of gear. However, the Rhino ATV also seems to be a dangerous vehicle, and vehicle rollovers have been responsible for many severe injuries and several (possibly more than 30) deaths.
No Safety Guidelines
Part of the reason for the Rhino's success is its novelty as a product. It is neither a car nor an ATV, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, which calls it a utility terrain vehicle (UTV), so, essentially, there are no concrete safety guidelines for this type of product. For products that fall into this type of gap, manufacturers essentially write their own rules, and it's often not until the product goes into wide distribution that design defects become apparent.
The Rhino UTVs are top heavy, have a narrow wheel base, and a high center of gravity, making it an obvious rollover risk, but Yamaha failed to warn about this dangerous product. The owner's manual does tell operators and passengers to wear seatbelts and helmets, but makes no mention of the risk of rollovers. The vehicles were sold without doors prior to 2008, although doors were available as an added accessory. But doors have not eliminated the injuries caused by the Rhinos rolling over. They are half-doors, and may come unlatched in a rollover.
Types of Injuries
Injuries most often occur during a rollover, when riders are thrown from the vehicle or have one or more body parts caught outside the vehicle during the rollover.
The most common injuries are to the foot, ankle, and leg. Broken bones and lacerations are common. There have also been cases of limbs needing to be amputated due to the severity of the injuries. The majority of fatalities related to the Rhino ATV have been children.
Yamaha has not issued a safety recall on the basis of the rollover risk. Instead, Yamaha simply installed half-doors and hand grips on all Rhino models, an implicit acknowledgement of the shortcomings of the UTV. The only recall announced by Yamaha was to fix the left-hand front wheel's brake caliper, which might cause a brake fluid leak. Yamaha continues to assert the Rhino is safe, but numbers may suggest it is one of the least safe.
Lawsuits and Federal Investigation
The CPSC is not so sure. In response to injury reports and lawsuits based on those injuries, it has begun an investigation into setting regular safety standards for the Rhino UTV and similar vehicles being developed to capitalize on the UTV's popularity. This follows the CPSC's establishment of mandatory safety standards for ATVs which become effective this April.
More than 200 lawsuits have been filed in state and federal courts by people injured using the Rhino. On February 13, 2009, the Judicial panel on Multidistrict Litigation (MDL) ordered that every Rhino product liability lawsuit filed in federal courts will be transferred to the Western District of Kentucky to be steered by Judge Jennifer B. Coffman through pretrial litigation.
If you have been injured using the Rhino UTV, now is the time to consider your lawsuit. As the MDL progresses, it may affect your ability to file lawsuits in the future. Schedule a free Rhino injury lawsuit consultation at with one of our defective product attorneys in SC of McWhirter, Bellinger, & Associates, P.A. today.
With offices in Aiken, Camden, Columbia, Lexington, Newberry, Orangeburg, and Sumter, South Carolina, our personal injury lawyers are ready to serve you. Call us today at 1-800-694-0994.
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