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California Off-Roading Poses Greatest Risk To Children

Union Tribune  Eric Edmonds report on off-roading in Southern California’s deserts, and underscores the increased risk of serious injuries to children resulting from the operation of all terrain vehicles (ATV’s).  Off-roading in California takes place all year long;  however,  in the fall when desert  temperatures become cooler,  greater numbers of off-road enthusiasts driving ATV’s such as motorcycles, trucks and quads flock to popular areas such as Glamis in the San Diego county. Consequently, these areas start to resemble war zones as a result of accidents caused by reckless drivers.

A research study being conducted at San Diego’s Rady Children’s Hospital in conjunction with Children’s Hospital of Orange County, has shown some interesting patterns regarding the peak desert season and off-road vehicle-related injuries in children. The age of the children injured ranges from 8 months to 14 years,  which is the cutoff age for trauma being directed to a children’s hospital. Fractures represent forty percent of the injuries, half of which require surgery, and 20 percent of the injuries involved  the skull, brain, spine, or other internal injuries.  Accidents involving dirt bikes are the primary  cause of serious injuries accounting for approximately 45% of injuries and  ATVs, quads, and other vehicles make up the rest. Many of those injured  fail to use proper safety equipment and or lack the safety training in the first instance. In addition, the study suggests that the lack of adequate regulation and enforcement is also of great concern.

Applicable California Law

Due to negligence or reckless conduct , many children endure serious and catastrophic injuries or suffer fatal injuries. As a result, they have personal injury claims, and or their heirs have potential wrongful death claims or survivor actions against the responsible parties (see my prior Blog post for California’s Wrongful Death Laws). Many off-road enthusiasts ignore the fact  that even while driving off-road that they must follow the same rules as any other vehicle regardless of whether they are off-road or not. An aggravating factor, is that many of those responsible fail to carry adequate insurance coverage, or any insurance at all (see my prior Blog post on California Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Law).

Basic safety training for children, off-road enthusiasts and proper use of safety equipment can greatly reduce the risk of serious brain injuries, spine injuries, or broken bones . Motorcycle accidents or ATV accidents can cause lifelong injuries or wrongful death. If you or someone you care about have been seriously injured or have lost a loved one in an accident before taking any action talk to an experienced personal injury attorney.