Published: October 2014
While most ATV accidents don't get much public attention, they do happen, and they can result in serious injuries. In fact, there were an estimated 107,900 ATV-related injuries treated in hospital emergency rooms in 2012, according to the Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC).
So, what do you do when you're involved in an accident on your ATV? The steps may vary a bit depending on what state you're riding in (it's worth inquiring about local laws wherever you ride), but here are some general points to remember:
Address any injuries. ATVs can travel at speeds in excess of 60 miles per hour and may weigh in at more than 700 pounds, a combination that poses risks for serious injury in a wreck, says atvsafety.gov, a website operated by the CPSC. Attend to everyone involved in the accident first, and call for medical assistance if anyone is injured.
Call police. Even if no one has been injured, in some states you may be required to report the accident to police. In New York, for instance, you're required to report an ATV accident to police if it results in an injury or in property damage estimated to be $600 or more. Be sure to ask how you can obtain a copy of the police report, because it will likely be required by your insurance company.
Document the accident. Jot down notes or leave yourself a voicemail, with details on where and how the wreck occurred. Snap pictures if you have a smartphone handy. You should also take down the contact information of any property owners, and the contact and insurance information of any drivers involved in the accident, along with the make, model and their ATV's license plate number, if it has one (laws vary by state).
Make any additional reports. Depending on where you're riding, you may be required by law to make an additional accident report with local or state authorities. In Wisconsin, for instance, you are required to submit a written report to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources within 10 days of the accident. Make sure to inquire about any similar regulations in the state you're riding in.
Call your insurance agent. If you have an ATV insurance policy, your agent can explain how it might help in your situation and how you can start a claim. For instance, liability coverage is a type of ATV coverage that kicks in when you cause an accident that injures someone or damages another person's property. It will typically help you cover the other person's medical bills or property damage costs. Your agent can also explain how other coverages on your ATV policy might apply. If you don't have a standalone ATV policy, you likely won't be covered for the accident by your auto or homeowners insurance. Either way, though, it's wise to reach out to your agent to discuss.
It's never pleasant to think about a potential wreck when you're heading out for a day on the trails. But knowing what to do in advance of an accident, and keeping a level head when one does occur, can help make the moments afterward less stressful and the process of filing an insurance claim more tranquil — so you can get back out there and enjoy a safer ride.