If you have been injured in a Yamaha Rhino accident, or a member of your family has died in a Rhino accident, you may be entitled to compensation from Yamaha Motor Corp, the manufacturer of the Yamaha Rhino. The Yamaha Rhino is a popular four-wheel, utility terrain vehicle, or side-by-side vehicle. Nearly 60 deaths and hundreds of injuries have been linked to accidents caused by defective Yamaha Rhinos nationwide. Many of these accidents occurred on level terrain and at relatively low speeds.  The combination of a powerful engine, small wheels on a narrow frame, and a high center of gravity make these vehicles rollover prone by design. Other UTV vehicles similar to the Yamaha Rhino include the Polaris Ranger, Arctic Cat Prowler, Kawasaki Teryx, Kawasaki Mule, and Honda Big Red.

2009 Yamaha Rhino Recall

Yamaha Rhino UTVs first came on the market in 2003, immediately sparking criticism that the vehicles were top-heavy and rollover-prone.  In 2008, the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) began their investigation of Yamaha Rhino safety issues.  On March 31, 2009, Yamaha Motor Corp., in cooperation with the CPSC, announced a recall of all Rhino 450 (YXR450) and Rhino 660 (YXR660)model vehicles distributed since the fall of 2003. The CPSC advised consumers to immediately stop using the vehicles until recommended repairs could be made.

Dangerous by Design

It is important to note that all ATVs and UTVS come with certain risks. However, the way the Yamaha Rhino was designed made it unsafe even at low speeds and on flat terrain. Yamaha initially manufactured vehicles without doors, which did nothing to prevent passenger arms and legs from falling out of the UTV when it overturned. The lack of doors on the vehicle made it likely that drivers and passengers would sustain serious injuries in a Rhino rollover accident. Numerous passengers have had to have limb amputations following Rhino rollover accidents.

Yamaha Rhino Warnings

The warnings that Yamaha sent to consumers in the years before the recall indicate that Yamaha was aware of the inherent damages of their vehicles and the serious injuries they may cause.  In a letter to Rhino owners in 2006, Yamaha warned owners, “If you are in a situation where the vehicle is tipping over, do not put your arm or leg outside the vehicle to try to stop it. You could be severely injured. You could suffer a crushed hand, arm, leg, or foot, if part of your body is caught underneath the vehicle. You must keep your arms and legs inside the vehicle until it has stopped moving.” In another warning label placed on the vehicle, Yamaha warned riders, “Any part of your body (arms, legs, or head) outside of the vehicle can be crushed by the cage/frame. If you think or feel that the vehicle may tip or roll, brace your feet on the floorboards, and keep your hands on the handholds. Do not try to stop a vehicle tipover using your arm or leg.”

Compensation For Your Injuries

You may be wondering what your legal rights are following an accident, and how much compensation you are entitled to. A product liability lawsuit can hold a manufacturer accountable for defectively designing or manufacturing any dangerous product. Damages awarded in a verdict or settlement can include compensation for past and future medical expenses, lost earnings and pain and suffering. If your injuries are serious and result in permanent disability, you may also be entitled to loss of future earning capacity. Note that by law, you have only a limited amount of time to bring a claim for your injuries, so contact a lawyer as soon as possible.

What to Do After An Accident

After any accident resulting in serious injury, you should seek medical attention immediately for your injuries. If possible, have someone photograph the scene of the accident and document how it occurred. Document the name, telephone number and addresses of any witnesses, and collect as much information about the vehicle as possible, including model name and number, serial number, and place of purchase. Finally, do not have the vehicle repaired until after you speak with an attorney. The vehicle itself is an important piece of evidence and will need to be inspected. Having the vehicle repaired can destroy evidence critical to building your case.