The use of recreational vehicles in Rhode Island, specifically ATV’s, has long been a contentious topic. This past January, an ATV incident came to light when a Cranston police officer tackled a motorcyclist who had pushed him. The police officer was then surrounded by a group of ATV riders and assaulted by an accompanying motorcyclist. The Cranston police chief has vowed to strengthen action taken on all-terrain vehicles and other similar unlicensed vehicles.
All-terrain vehicles, commonly known as ATV’s, are classified as recreational vehicles and their use has been an issue of concern for years to local residents throughout Rhode Island and police alike, who field complaints concerning the loud noise created by the ATV’s and, more importantly, the unsafe and improper operation of the recreational vehicles. Injuries incurred in a collision with an ATV can be serious and especially dangerous to children.
ATV Laws in Rhode Island
In Rhode Island, ATV’s are required to be registered with the Department of Environmental Management (DEM) and are subject to a set of rules and safety requirements including where they may, and may not, be driven. All-terrain vehicles are classified as recreational vehicles under RI General Laws § 31-3.2-1:
(8) “Recreational vehicle” means a motor vehicle including minibikes designed to travel over unimproved terrain and which has been determined by the division of motor vehicles as unsuitable for operation on the public way and not eligible for registration for such use. This shall not be construed to include golf mobiles or golf carts, riding lawn mowers, or garden tractors, which are not registered as farm vehicles, but shall include any three (3) wheel driven vehicle and any other four (4) wheel driven vehicle, regardless of type or design, including all classes of all-terrain vehicles.
As such, ATV’s are subject to the legal requirements laid out in RI General Laws § 31-3.2, including but not limited to:
- ATV’s may not be driven on public streets in Rhode Island, only on designated trails determined by the state or on private property.
- The recreational vehicles may be allowed on the street in emergency situations such as snow conditions that are otherwise unsafe for a motor vehicle.
- Vehicles must be operated in a safe and controlled manner.
- ATV operators must be age 12 or older. Any operator between the ages of 12 and 16 must be accompanied by an adult at all times.
What to Do If You Are Hit by an ATV
If you are involved in an ATV accident in Rhode Island, it’s important to contact the local police to file an incident report, even if the damage to your vehicle is minor. If you are physically injured by an ATV, whether as a pedestrian or motorist, its critical to seek medical attention right away.
When an ATV accident occurs, the operator of the ATV is required to follow the same protocol as a driver involved in a motor vehicle accident. This includes not leaving the scene of the accident, rendering aid as able, providing identification and contact information, and contacting the local authority to report the accident.
Although some recreational vehicle owners carry liability insurance which can be beneficial if the vehicle incurs damage or if the ATV is involved in an accident that causes damage to another person, motor vehicle, or property, many others do not. If you are hurt by an ATV driver, it’s essential to seek legal help from a Rhode Island personal injury lawyer to determine your legal rights.
Contact Tapalian Law If You’ve Been Hurt in an ATV Accident
If you’ve been involved in an accident with an ATV in Rhode Island, it’s important to seek help from a highly qualified personal injury law firm. Attorney David Tapalian is an experienced personal injury lawyer with over 20 years of practice helping people hurt in car accidents, motorcycle accidents, pedestrian accidents, slip and falls, and other types of accidents. As a top-rated injury attorney, he will hold the person at-fault for the accident responsible, and seek maximum compensation for his clients’ damages and losses. Tapalian Law offers a free consultation and with offices located in Providence, Warwick, and Seekonk, MA, we are easily accessible to all areas of RI and MA. Call us today at 401-552-5000, or contact us online.