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Yamaha Rhino ATV Rollover Accidents Injure Hundreds, Yet No Recall Issued

Feb 12, 2008 | Parker Waichman LLP

Yamaha Rhino All Terrain Vehicle (ATV) rollover accidents have injured – and in some cases killed – hundreds of people.  Some consumer advocates claim that flaws inherent in the design of the vehicles are responsible for Yamaha Rhino ATV accidents, as well as the resulting injuries and deaths.  In 2007, Yamaha finally responded to the Rhino ATV safety issues by offering free modifications to make the vehicles safer, but the company stopped short of issuing a Rhino ATV recall.

ATVs are infamous for rollover accidents.  Such vehicles are three or four wheeled and are used for “off-roading” or riding in natural conditions. Many ATVs can go as fast as 55 MPH and can weigh as heavy as a quarter of a ton. Some 75% of the ATV accidents result in serious damage to the head or spinal cord of the accident victim. Head injuries are a major cause of serious life threatening or lifelong physical problems and ailments. Injury to the spinal cord can result in paralysis of the entire body for life.

While many ATVs are prone to accidents, the Yamaha Rhino ATV is even more likely to be involved in rollover accidents.  What’s more, these accidents are also more likely to result in serious injuries and deaths.  Critics say the Yamaha Rhino is top heavy, and it has tires that are extremely narrow.  These design defects make it far more likely that the Yamaha Rhino will tip and rollover while going through a turn, even when the vehicle is traveling at a slow speed and is on a flat surface.   Furthermore, the Yamaha Rhino is designed in such a way that passengers’ legs are unprotected in the event of a rollover accident. Victims of Yamaha Rhino rollover accidents usually experience broken or crushed legs, ankles or feet.  In some cases, victims have been permanently disabled, and have had limbs amputated following a Yamaha Rhino rollover accident.  When Yamaha Rhino rollover accidents involve children, the results are often fatal.

Yamaha has been slow to acknowledge the Rhino ATVs rollover problems since the vehicles were first introduced in 2003.  In September 2006, Yamaha Motor Corp. sent a letter to the owners of Rhino ATVs warning that the Rhino was prone to tip while going through sharp turns. However, the wording of the Yamaha letter seemed to place much of the blame for Rhino rollover accident injuries on the victims themselves. Yamaha warned passengers of the Rhino ATVs to use seatbelts, and to keep their hands, arms and legs inside the vehicle at all times.  The letter also included information on handling the Rhino if it should start to tip over.  But since Yamaha sent the 2006 letter, it has become increasingly apparent that the actions recommended by Yamaha do little to protect passengers involved in Rhino rollover accidents.

It wasn’t until 2007 that Yamaha appeared to finally take the Rhino’s safety issues seriously.  At that time, the company offered free modifications to the owners of new and used Rhinos.  These modifications included the addition of doors to the ATV, as well as additional handholds.  However, the company still has not recalled or offered refunds to the owners of the dangerous Rhino ATVs.  It is not yet known if the modifications to the Yamaha Rhino ATVs will in fact make the vehicles safer.


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