Polaris to Pay $27.25 Million for Failure to Report Recreational Off-Road Vehicle Defects

Coshocton_Fair_2011_008-1-300x214Polaris Industries, a manufacturer and distributor of recreational off-road vehicles, has agreed to pay a $27.25 million civil penalty for failing to immediately report to the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) defects in its off-road vehicles, also known as off-highway vehicles (OHVs). CPSC determined that the defects could cause an unreasonable risk of serious personal injury or death to recreational vehicle drivers and passengers. According to the CPSC, which is tasked with protecting the public from unreasonable risks of injury or death associated with consumer product use, injuries, death, and property damage from consumer product incidents cost the United States over $1 trillion each year. Aside from monetary damage, as Providence personal injury lawyers, Tapalian Law knows that serious personal injury and death caused by one of these incidents has life-long enduring effects on the injured and their family.

Reason for the $27.25 Million Civil Penalty

A civil penalty is defined as a financial penalty imposed by a government agency as restitution for wrongdoing. The civil penalty the CPSC sought against Polaris resolved the violations concerning the RZR and Ranger ROV. CPSC agreed not to seek civil penalties for failure to report hazards or defects in vehicles that Polaris had reported to CPSC by June 29, 2017. Polaris also agreed to sustain an amped up compliance program to ensure future compliance with the Consumer Product Safety Act as well as internal controls to ensure any future incidents are dealt with in a timely manner. By Polaris settling this matter, it does not mean they admit to all of the CPSC charges.

The off-road vehicles involved in the Polaris $27.25 million civil penalty are the RZR and Ranger recreational off-road vehicles (ROVs). CPSC claims that Polaris received information the RZR could catch fire while driving, resulting in potential burns and injuries to drivers and passengers. Despite having this information that could cause a substantial hazard or unreasonable risk of serious injury or death, Polaris failed to report it to the CPSC as required by federal law. When Polaris finally did report the risk, it had already received reports of 150 fires, including one fatal fire, 11 burn injury reports, and a fire that consumed 10 acres of land. The Ranger ROV had problems concerning a heat shield that could come lose and fall off, posing fire and burn hazards. Polaris made two design changes to the vehicle, reported the fires to the CPSC, and also announced a recall of certain versions. However, even after the recall, Polaris continued to receive reports of problematic heat shields including fire reports. Polaris only reported these incidents to the CPSC when it had received 10 reports of heat shield concerns, including five involving fires.

Off-Highway Vehicle (OHV) Safety

Although the terms are often used interchangeably, there are three main subsets of vehicles classified under the broad term of OHV. They are All-Terrain Vehicles (ATVs), Recreational Off-Highway Vehicles (ROVs), and Utility Task Vehicles (UTVs). Although there are differences between each there is one very important thing to remember that is consistent with them all. Each carry risk of serious injury and death when not used properly or with the appropriate safety equipment. They are especially dangerous to children and teens and the injuries incurred by this younger age group is often more severe than the injuries incurred in a car accident, as noted in a recent Tapalian Law personal injury blog.

When collecting death and injury data related to recreational off-road vehicle use, the CPSC compiles OHV fatalities together although deaths are mostly comprised of ATV and ROV accidents. In 2017, 507 fatalities were identified in the U.S due to mostly ATV and ROV usage. In 2016, 678 fatalities were identified. Tragically, most OTV accidents are preventable.  Vehicle rollover, ejection, and collisions are some of the most common types of accidents. Proper training and use of appropriate safety equipment is a must to assist in the prevention of serious death and injury from a recreational vehicle accident.

Off-Road Vehicles in Rhode Island

Rhode Island state law does not allow ATV’s on public roads. Massachusetts and Connecticut state law forbid the same. Many states however do allow the OHV’s on public roads (on-road) and unfortunately the majority of ATV related fatalities take place “on-road”. Rhode Island considers off-road vehicles as “recreational” and to be used “off-road”, although they do require them to be registered through the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) to lawfully use them. RI personal injury lawyer David Tapalian is familiar with the tragedy that can result from a severe crash. His Providence based personal injury law firm handles personal injury cases all over Rhode Island and Massachusetts.

Have You Been Injured in a Recreational Vehicle Accident in Rhode Island?

If you, or your child, have been hurt in an OHV, ATV, ROV, or UTV accident, whether it be a roll over, collision, ejection, or other bodily damage, you must seek medical attention for your injuries. If your injuries are caused by the fault of another’s negligence, you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries and medical expenses as well as pain and suffering. Do not hesitate to seek the advice of an experienced RI personal injury attorney at Tapalian Law. Injury attorney David Tapalian will speak with you about the details of your case and determine if you have a claim against another for negligence in your recreational vehicle accident. Attorney David Tapalian is a Providence personal injury lawyer experienced in helping those who have been hurt or injured in all types of accidents, including OTV accidents, ATV accidents, ROV accidents, car accidents, and motorcycle accidents. Contact the RI Personal Injury Law Firm of Tapalian Law for a free case review at 401-552-5000 or reach us online.

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