The use of quad bikes or All-terrain vehicles (ATVs) has been on the increase in recent years due to their adaptability, low running costs and relatively easy operation. They are widely used in farming, rescue services, recreation, government and tourism. However, there is also concern about the rising number of serious injuries and fatalities arising from their use.
Between 2011 and 2016 there were 33 quad bike fatalities in Australia, of which almost half were rollover accidents. While a large proportion of fatalities occur in recreational settings, quad bikes also remain the leading cause of death on farms, resulting in an average of 13 deaths a year.
The potential for injuries arising from the use of quad bikes range from cuts and bruises to catastrophic spinal injuries and even death.
The most common mechanisms of injury are:
You may be able to claim compensation for injuries resulting from a quad bike accident if it resulted from someone else’s negligence or carelessness. Negligence may arise in a variety of settings.
If you are injured at work, you may be able to claim compensation from your employer. Employers must provide proper and adequate means for employees to carry out their work. This includes:
Quad bikes used for work are regulated under work health and safety legislation as ‘plant’. Employers must ensure that their quad bikes are safe and appropriate for the situation and skill level of their employees and that riders receive proper instruction. Helmets are mandatory for quad bike riders and passengers when on a road or in a ‘road related’ area.
If you are injured because your employer neglects to provide safe systems of work, equipment or a safe environment, you may be able to sue for personal injury compensation. This includes injuries incurred over a long period of time, late onset injuries, and aggravations of pre-existing injuries.
Examples: Jeff sustains severe crush injuries to the right side of his body in a quad bike rollover accident on a farm property. The quad bike provided by Jeff’s employer had disabled rear brakes, an incorrectly fitted tyre and faulty suspension. Jeff was never properly trained to ride the quad, nor was he instructed to wear a helmet. Jeff can most likely claim compensation from his employer for his personal injuries. Rick is quad bike instructor who works for a recreational company taking quad bike tours. While showing off in front of his tour group, Rick rolls his quad and sustains a fractured leg. Rick’s employer maintains the quad bikes well, provides helmets and ensures all staff complete a rider safety training course. Rick would not be able to claim compensation for his injuries as they were due to his own negligence. However, he could apply for Workers Compensation payments while he is off work.
See also: WorkCover Claims
If you are injured in a road accident while legally riding a quad bike and the collision was totally or partially due to the fault of another driver or vehicle owner you can claim compensation from the owner of the vehicle that caused the accident through their Compulsory Third Party insurer.
Examples: Jeff’s quad bike collides with a car that runs a red light, causing him severe spinal injuries. Since the accident was not Jeff’s fault, he can claim personal injury compensation from the owner of the car through their CTP insurer. Rick negligently rear-ends a truck while riding his quad bike on a road causing him to sustain head injuries. Because the collision is Rick’s fault he is unable to claim compensation for his injuries (although exceptions may apply for catastrophic accidents). If the accident occurred after July 1 2016, he may be able to seek necessary and reasonable medical and rehabilitation services through the National Injury Insurance Scheme of Queensland (NIISQ).
See Also: What does CTP Insurance Cover?
A non-standard vehicle (such as a quad bike) can be driven on a Queensland road, if it is conditionally registered with Queensland Transport. If you ride a quad bike on a road without conditional registration you can be fined and there will be no insurances to cover your loss if you have an accident.
A conditional registration may place limitations on where and how far you can travel on a road with your quad bike. For example, it may only permit you to travel on road for a distance of 40km or confine you to a worksite and designated areas.
Compulsory third party insurance must be held before you apply for conditional registration. This will cover your liability for third party personal injury claims in the event you are involved in an accident. Registration holders should also check that they have public liability insurance that will cover them for ‘on road’ riding.
As of 1 February 2017 in Queensland;
A business that offers recreational activities such as a quad bike tour company will be liable for injuries or loss if it is caused by their negligence. This might happen where equipment is not properly maintained, staff are not well trained or inadequate supervision is provided.
If negligent, a recreational service provider may be liable to you:
In Queensland there are statutory limitations on suing for personal injuries that arise out of an obvious risk of a dangerous recreational activity. In some cases this may apply to quad biking, depending on the circumstances.
In addition, recreational activity providers often require riders to sign a liability waiver that can limit their liability for personal injuries. However even where a disclaimer or waiver is enforceable, if your injury results from the activity provider’s failure to exercise reasonable care such as by providing faulty equipment or not training their staff properly, you may have a right to sue.
If you have signed a liability waiver and are injured, its best to speak with a lawyer about your options. They can look at the specific circumstances and the wavier you signed and tell you whether or not you still have rights.
General damages compensate you for the pain and suffering you have experienced as well as any permanent loss of enjoyment of life as a result of your injuries. They are calculated by reference to the ISV Scale, which rates the seriousness of any injury between 1 and 100 and accords a monetary value range to that rating.
For example an extreme brain injury resulting in gross permanent disturbance of brain function, significant physical limitation and destruction of pre-existing lifestyle has a rating of 71 to 100 and a monetary range of $215,160 to $349,400 whereas a minor wrist injury is rated 0 to 5 with a monetary range of $0 to $6,950.
To diagnose and treat your injuries you may need to consult with your general practitioner, consult a specialist, obtain x-rays or MRIs, take pain medications and wear special braces apparatus. The expenses you incur to obtain medical treatment, including costs of consultations, diagnostic scans, travel costs, medication and medical equipment, may be claimed as compensation. You can also claim for the medical costs you will incur in the future as a result of your injury.
Injuries such as fractures, dislocations or internal trauma may require surgery. Surgical or hospital costs paid by you can be claimed as compensation as long as the surgery was necessary to treat your condition.
Rehabilitating after an injury may involve physiotherapy, home and vehicle modifications and ergonomic aids. Your reasonable costs of rehabilitation can be claimed back as compensation.
If you suffer a serious injury you may need time off work for several weeks or months immediately after the incident. You can claim compensation for this lost income.
If your injury prevents you from working in the future to the same extent as you did prior to the injury you may also be able to claim loss of future income earning capacity. This is usually estimated as a lump sum figure based on the age of the person, their usual occupation and other skills.
Compensation can be claimed for superannuation that would have been paid on lost income.
Serious injuries may prevent you from being able to perform tasks such as personal care, cleaning, laundry, mowing your lawns, caring for the garden or other domestic chores. If you formerly performed these duties but are now unable to due to an injury you can claim compensation for care and assistance provided to you by friends, relatives or paid contractors.
In Queensland there is a minimum threshold for this type of compensation.
Interest can generally be claimed on compensation for any out of pocket expenses that are incurred before your claim is resolved.
In general terms, the amount of compensation is gauged by comparing what your life was like before the injury and what it is like now as a result of the injury. Therefore, someone whose injury has had a greater impact on their life will be entitled to more compensation than someone whose injury has had only minimal impact.
The amount of compensation payable for an injury will vary greatly from case to case, depending on a variety of variables such as:
For most personal injury claims, a legal action must be commenced within three years of the date of the injury. If you miss this deadline, your claim will be statute barred and you will lose all rights to claim compensation.
However, depending on where your injury occurred or who you are suing, specific pre-court procedures may apply which have their own time limits which are much sooner. If you miss these time limits you may lose your right to pursue your claim if you cannot provide sufficient reasons to the court as to why you delayed and why you should be allowed to proceed with your claim.
The time limits specified by some pre-court procedures are set out below.
For minors, the obligation to serve the other party with a Notice of Claim begins when the child turns 18, however a parent or guardian may do this on behalf of the minor before they turn 18.
In the case of medical negligence claims, a parent or legal guardian of a minor must serve a Notice of Claim within six years of the day when the parent or guardian knew or ought to have known of the injury.
Depending on the nature of your injuries and the circumstances of the accident, compensation may or may not be available. You should always seek expert legal help to see if you are able to make a claim.
It’s important to get advice for your specific situation. Check if you can make a risk-free compensation claim and get free initial advice from our Principal lawyer, Greg Smith.
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