Two people were killed last weekend in unrelated motor vehicle accidents involving Yamaha Rhino ATVs. One accident occurred in the state of Washington where a 16-year-old boy rolled his vehicle after hitting a tire rut. He was able to call for help, but died before emergency responders could reach him.
In Harrisonburg, Louisiana, a 26-year-old woman was killed when she lost control of the Yamaha Rhino she was driving. Mickie Shirley reportedly lost control of the vehicle and briefly drove off the road before reentering the roadway and rolling her vehicle. A 16-year-old passenger was ejected from the Rhino in the crash. Shirley was later pronounced dead at a local hospital.
The vehicle in question, the Yamaha Rhino, is an off-road vehicle that has been the subject of a number of lawsuits since being first introduced in 2003. The vehicle has been reported to be especially susceptible to rollovers regardless of the terrain or the speed at which they are used. Yamaha has maintained that most accidents have been the result of driver error.
The U.S. Consumer Safety Commission reportedly launched an investigation into the nearly 50 deaths associated with the vehicle and eventually pressured Yamaha into suspending sales of certain models in order to make safety improvements. Currently, there are several hundred pending personal injury and products liability lawsuits related to Rhino rollovers, including 170 in the state of California alone.
Thus far, five cases have gone to juries and Yamaha has successfully defended themselves in four of them. Their one loss resulted in a $317,000 verdict for a Georgia man who had suffered leg injuries in a rollover accident. Yamaha has also reportedly reached confidential settlements in a number of cases.
Deaths from Yamaha Rhino ATV Accidents Continue to Mount (Aboutlawsuits.com)