When the weather is warm, outdoor activities are the amusement. Expecting them to end in injury usually isn’t the case!
In Gwinnett County, GA, Roger McTaggart was injured in 2007 while riding his Yamaha Rhino recreational utility vehicle. Mr. McTaggart and his wife, Glenda, sued Yamaha Motor Corporation USA, which happens coincidentally to be located in Gwinnett County.
The McTaggart’s case is just one of over 100 cases that allege the Rhino recreational vehicles are unsafe. The Rhino vehicles are alleged to have latent stability defects which cause the vehicles to unexpectedly roll over.
Similarly, the McTaggart’s claimed early in their case that the stability defect caused Mr. McTaggart to unexpectedly roll his vehicle at a low speed and on relatively flat ground.
McTaggart was driving his Rhino and stopped the vehicle. He then starting going forward again and turned the steering wheel to the right, “and the Rhino tipped onto the driver’s side, trapping his leg under the vehicle,” according to McTaggart’s complaint.
McTaggart sustained a “crush” injury in which the “skin exploded” and bone was exposed, Childers said.
Mr. and Mrs. McTaggart also argued that the recreational vehicle should include a barrier which would keep the rider’s legs inside the vehicle. Yamaha rebutted the argument, claiming that doors for the vehicle were produced and added three the four months after Mr. McTaggart’s leg injury.
During the two week trial, all experts, including plaintiffs, concluded that the accident could only have happened while Mr. McTaggart was riding on a side incline, not on an relatively flat and uneven surface. Counsel for the McTaggart’s focused arguments on the fact that had the vehicle contained doors, Mr. McTaggart’s legs would not have been injured when the unexpectedly vehicle rolled over.
After 10 hours of deliberation, a Gwinnett County jury awarded $317,002 to the plaintiffs. Compensation included pain and suffering, medical expenses, lost wages, future lost wages and loss of consortium for Mrs. McTaggart. The plaintiffs’ attroney, Andrew Childres, claimed that the jury was swayed by Yamaha’s lack of performance testing on the Rhino recreational vehicle, with particular focus on “occupant containment”.
Yamaha claims that the company is upset by the verdict and there is a chance for appeal in the Gwinnett County case. The well known motor-sport company further states:
[We are]…saddened whenever anyone is injured in a Yamaha product-related accident, and we urge all our customers to follow the safety recommendations on our products and, as importantly, to always operate the products in a safe and responsible manner.
As we enter the summer months, it is important to remember that safety is the number one key to outdoor activities. When operating motor vehicles, of any kind, be sure to heed all safety precautions to ensure safe amusement.