- Duty to protect your children and the neighbors
The proverbial “long arm of the law” is indeed long and extends to all 50 states as it applies to a person’s duty to others under their care. Negligence laws in all 50 states make it clear that a driver of a motor vehicle, including off-road vehicles or every type, owe a duty of reasonable care to passengers and others who may be affected by the their operation and use of the vehicle. Every driver, and in some cases the owner, of a motor vehicle is held to the” reasonable person” standard. If their conduct drops below that of a reasonable person in a similar situation, then liability for injuries caused by the unreasonable behavior will likely arise.
There are no more precious people than your family and your friends. All of us that love to go off-roading take our own and often the neighbors’ kids and strap them into these wonderful super charged machines that were designed for our pleasure. Good judgment can give way to adrenalin and fun associated with UTVS, OHVS, ATVS and any other type of motorized vehicle. Thus, the importance of “being your brother’s keeper”.
- Think safety first
I may be stating the obvious here. Helmets, Goggles, Facial dust guards, and 5 point harnesses are just a few of the musts when making sure that you and your passengers are ready to ride. Not all states require helmets to be worn on the roadways, even less so off-road. The fact that there may not be strict helmet laws in your state does not mean that you will not be held liable or comparatively at fault for injuries caused to your passengers for failure to require helmets and other safety equipment. Even in a situation where the UTV may have failed due to design, crash worthiness, negligence of other drivers or mechanical failure, you may be held responsible for not insisting that your passengers wear the proper safety equipment while under your care.
- Maintain your equipment
The proper maintenance of your UTV will avoid dangers that might otherwise arise due to laziness, forgetfulness, ignorance and neglect. All kinds of things can go wrong with a poorly maintained machine. Brakes fail, tires blow, engines blow and worn out components fail. Owners who fail to maintain their machines can be held liable for injuries that occur due to these types of failures that could otherwise have been avoided had they maintained their equipment in proper working condition. Your friends and family members are all too precious to risk danger, injury or even death due to faulty equipment that became that way due to neglect.
- Obtain and keep proper insurance on your machine and on your personal automobiles
Too often the only thought, when it comes to purchasing insurance, is on protecting one’s self from claims or law suits due to one’s own negligence and mistakes. While it is vitally important to carry adequate liability insurance for that purpose, it may be even more important to carry sufficient limits of liability, Uninsured Motorist, Under Insured Motorist and Medical Payments coverages to assure that an injured family member or friend is taken care of in the event of an unfortunate accident while riding as a passenger in your UTV. The following is a discussion of the different types of insurance coverages and their purposes:
- Liability Insurance
Liability insurance is designed to pay damages to a person who was injured due to the at-fault driver’s (and sometimes the owner’s) negligence. It can be utilized to pay for medical expenses, pain, suffering, disfigurement, permanent physical impairment, lost wages, loss of enjoyment of life, wrongful death, emotional injuries and out of pocket expenses. Liability insurance can cover these types of damages suffered by passengers in the at-fault driver’s vehicle, including family members. It can also cover damages suffered by others that are struck by the at-fault vehicle or injuries caused by the use of the at-fault vehicle. Take special care to make sure that you have adequate insurance limits to not only to protect you and your assets but to cover damages that may be caused by you to your own family members and friends who may be passengers in your vehicle.
- Uninsured Motorist Insurance
Uninsured Motorist insurance is designed to pay damages similar to those that Liability Insurance pays. It is utilized when the at-fault vehicle in an accident does not carry Liability Insurance. In many states, including Arizona, it is portable, meaning that if you have uninsured motorist coverage on a personal vehicle that is not involved in the accident, that the uninsured coverage on that vehicle will apply to injuries and expenses incurred in the accident. Often times the uninsured coverage on a vehicle not involved in the accident will be limited to covering only members of the household of the owner of that vehicle. It may not apply to neighbors, (Although the neighbors may have uninsured coverage on their own vehicles that may apply). This type of coverage is routinely rejected or not purchased by unknowing or uninformed consumers. This coverage is designed specifically to protect family members and should be purchased in limits that are equal to your liability insurance. Don’t sell your family members short by not purchasing this coverage or purchasing it at lower limits than your liability insurance coverage.
- Under Insured Motorist Insurance
Under Insured Motorist insurance is designed to pay damages similar to those that Liability Insurance pays. It is utilized when the at-fault vehicle in an accident has liability coverage but it is not sufficient to pay for all of the damages and injuries suffered by an injured person. As with uninsured coverage, In many states, including Arizona, Under Insured Motorist Coverage is portable, meaning that if you have under Insured motorist coverage on a personal vehicle that is not involved in the accident, that the under Insured coverage on that vehicle will apply to injuries and expenses incurred in the accident. Often times the under Insured coverage on a vehicle not involved in the accident will be limited to covering only members of the household of the owner of that vehicle. It may not apply to neighbors, (Although the neighbors may have under Insured coverage on their own vehicles that may apply). This type of coverage is routinely rejected or not purchased by unknowing or uninformed consumers. This coverage is designed specifically to protect family members and should be purchased in limits that are equal to your liability insurance. Don’t sell your family members short by not purchasing this coverage or purchasing it at lower limits than your liability insurance coverage.
- Medical Payments Insurance
Medical payment coverage is a no-fault coverage that you can purchase from your auto insurer. Typically you will purchase a certain dollar amount of coverage ranging from $1,000 to $10,000. Higher coverage is available if desired. It will cover medical expenses incurred by anyone in a vehicle that is involved in an accident, regardless of who was at fault or if no one was at fault for the accident. With today high deductibles health insurance plans, med pay coverage can fill the gap. It is typically not very expensive and is an insurance coverage that everyone who owns a UTV should carry on their machine. It is even possible for medical payments coverage on a personal vehicle to apply to an accident involving your UTV.
We’ve all heard the mantras “no guts no glory”, “Live dangerously and you live right”, “ if things seem under control , you are just not going fast enough”. These may all be part of the thrill seekers mindset. Just remember that you are “your brother’s keeper” and often times the neighbor’s keeper. So take all the precautions, be wise and make sure you are well insured.