Our thoughts and prayers are with the family of a 16-year-old boy died after the ATV he was on collided with a wooden utility pole.
Enrique Rodriguez, 16, of Southwest Ranches, was driving the ATV, and Daniel Perez, of Pembroke Pines, was a passenger when the accident occurred in the 5400 block of Southwest 172nd Avenue just before 5 p.m. Monday, July 12, 2010. He was taken by helicopter to Memorial Regional Hospital in Hollywood, where he died.
While Sheriff’s traffic homicide unit investigators are looking into the cause of the accident, what is known is that neither teen was wearing a helmet.
All-terrain vehicles, which can go up to 100 mph, are not legal on public roads in Florida. To legally operate an ATV, a Florida resident must either drive on their private land or gain permission from a private land owner.
Florida law says helmets and protective eye gear are not required for ATV riders unless they are under 16, but safety experts recommend them.
In regard to any potential lawsuits, the failure to wear a helmet can reduce a monetary recovery if the defendant can establish that the failure to wear a helment contibuted to the injury or in this case death. In a lawsuit I handled years ago, I represented a gentleman who sustained a severe head injury when his motorcycle was struck by a car. While my client was not wearing a helmet I was able to argue that the helmet would not of made any difference as the brain injury occurred when the car struck the motorcycle and he suffered cu-contracu injury, where the brain actually goes back and forward within the skull.
In 2009, Florida had 289 ATV injuries and 12 fatalities.
According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, there were 410 reported ATV deaths nationally in 2008, and 18 percent of those deaths were children under 16. More recent data is not available.
That’s an improvement from 1990, when 35 percent of the nation’s 295 ATV deaths were under 16.
In Florida, parents must sign a release when buying an ATV for a minor under 16 years old.