As the weather warms you may see and hear ATV’s being “driven” in the streets of Philadelphia. Automobile accident lawyers are often left answering clients questions when they are involved in an accident with these off-road vehicles being driven usually by young people with no insurance in places they should not be. In Pennsylvania ATV’s are prohibited from being driven on any street or highway, but this is hardly a deterrent when the weather gets warm. Just this weekend a story about Philadelphia teens racing ATV’s in Southwest Philly ended with a crash sending the rider with serious injuries to CHOP. This incident comes on the heals of a Tacony Philadelphia man getting killed in an ATV accident earlier in the week. As these articles point out, these ATV accidents often result in very serious injuries, and often death.
The Philadelphia Police have enacted an initiative to keep illegally operated ATVs off of the streets, but the problem persists. While the initiative by the Philly police have had positive, like the seizure prior to the “ride out” for Philly rapper Meek Mill’s concert in March, 2015, this just shows how big a problem this has become. The police have a mandate to not chase these ATV riders, because of the safety concerns to others on the road, and while they can be pulled over, they often know that police can’t/won’t give chase.
As Philadelphia automobile accident lawyers we often get the question what do you do if you are involved in a crash with one of these ATV’s? Its complicated! While the letter of the law requires that these ATV’s have insurance, we have yet to see one of these ATV’s accidents have coverage. Even if there is coverage, an insurance company will likely disclaim (not cover you) for an illegal use of the ATV – because they are not meant to be driven on public roadways. Using your own Uninsured Motorist (UM) coverage is precluded because of Pennsylvania case law in Nationwide Mutual Insurance Co. vs. Yungwirth, 940 A.2d 523 (Pa. Super. 2008) which allows for an insurance company to exclude UM coverage for an ATV injury claim because the vehicle is designed to be used off-roads. To add more confusion to the topic, if you are in an accident with a dirt-bike, the law allows for you to make a UM claim – the distinction being that the PA legislature did not specifically address dirt-bikes, like it did ATV’s. So that often leaves the accident victim few options, the best of which is to go after the rider (or their parents) homeowners insurance coverage. However, the persons homeowners policy have specific language to exclude coverage for ATV use and that is when it gets more dicey – that when you’re lawyer will have to gear up for battle.
The takeaway from this post should be that Philadelphia residents need to be extra cautious when on the road with ATV’s. The argument for liability if you are in an accident with an ATV will certainly be difficult, but that is specifically why you need to speak with the Philadelphia automobile accident lawyers. We have a thorough understanding of ATV law, homeowners insurance coverage and how to fight for our personal injury clients. If you are in an automobile accident with an ATV it really sucks, but to make sure you are protected – contact KaplunMarx immediately.