Illinois Court of Appeal Discusses Liability of Landowner in ATV Personal Injury Accident Case

Riding or driving off-road vehicles is a common activity for people who enjoy the outdoors and a bit of adrenaline. There are many ways to engage in this sport, including all-terrain vehicles (ATVs). Although they are much smaller in size compared to other off-road vehicles, ATVs can still pose a serious threat to riders, passengers, and bystanders. These powerful vehicles are capable of flipping over, and it is easy for an inexperienced or even experienced rider to lose control. If you were hurt in an accident involving an ATV, contact Therman Law Offices now to learn more about whether you are entitled to compensation.

Recently, the Illinois Court of Appeal issued an opinion in a case involving an ATV accident. The plaintiff alleged in her complaint that she was hurt while in an accident that happened in Henderson County on a levee. The driver passed through a field, across a road, and onto the levee. While she was driving along the top of the levee, she drove through a section that had washed out the previous year and crashed.

The plaintiff also alleged that the defendant driver of the ATV owed her damages for driving the ATV negligently. She also included as defendants the people who owned the levee and who were responsible for maintaining it. The owners were two brothers who maintained roughly 2,000 acres of farmland. In response to her complaint, the defendants moved for summary judgment. They cited section 11-1427(g) of the Illinois Vehicle Code, also known as the ATV Statute, and said that it precluded premises liability. The trial court ultimately ruled in favor of the defendants and agreed that the plaintiff’s claim was barred according to the statute.

The plaintiff appealed on the basis that summary judgment was not appropriate because her claim was against the brothers who owned the land and therefore not barred by the ATV Statute. The appellate court first reviewed the statute and noted that there are limits to the amount of liability a landowner faces in this context. Property owners owe no duty of care to keep their premises safe for entry or “for use by others” for the purpose of ATV riding.

The appellate court concluded that the plaintiff fell into the category of “others” for the purposes of the statute. In another case, a farmhand who was an employee of a landowner who was injured while using an ATV was not barred from bringing a claim because he was an employee of the property owner. Here, the plaintiff and the rider were both guests at the property at the time of the crash. As a result, the trial court did not make a mistake by granting summary judgment for the defendant.

If you were hurt in a recreational vehicle accident, the Chicago personal injury lawyers at Therman Law Offices might be able to help. We provide a free consultation so you can learn more about your legal rights and how a lawyer can assist you with asserting them. The consultation is free, so there is no risk to you in learning more. Don’t wait to seek the financial recovery that you deserve. Call now at 773-545-8849 or contact us online.

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