Georgia Appeals Court Overturns Yamaha Rhino Injury Verdict

The Georgia Court Of Appeals has reversed a jury verdict in favor of a Yamaha Rhino rider, who suffered a serious personal injury during an off-road vehicle accident. The victim, a gravedigger from Georgia had been riding his Yamaha Rhino off-highway vehicle when the vehicle flipped over. He suffered serious leg injuries.

A court had ordered Yamaha to pay damages of $317,000. However, the Georgia Court of Appeals has now reversed the verdict. According to the appeals court's decision, unlike a car accident, the victim had assumed the risk of injuries when he purchased the off-road vehicle in 2006. With this and to the dismay of many personal injury lawyers, Yamaha's unblemished Rhino injury lawsuit record continues. The company has continually won lawsuits arising out injuries and fatalities resulting from accidents involving its off-road vehicle. However, the company has also entered into undisclosed settlements with several injured people, so the unblemished track record isn’t that clean. Those settlements are confidential, however.

The Yamaha Rhino was introduced in 2003, and quickly became popular among a growing generation of off-road vehicle fans. These off-road vehicles are different from all-terrain vehicles, in that they do include some additional safety features like safety belts. However, consumer safety groups soon found that the Yamaha Rhino was linked to a number of accidents ending in injuries. Some of the injuries that have resulted from these off-road vehicle accidents have been severe. Yamaha Rhino riders, who were caught or trapped when the off-road vehicle flipped over, have suffered from severe crushing injuries, and arm and leg injuries. There have also been amputations and severe limbs. The Rhino weighs about 1,100 pounds, and any accident that results in the vehicle flipping over and landing on a person, can cause serious injuries.

The number of persons filing lawsuits against Yamaha over the Rhino off-road vehicle has increased. The lawsuits claimed that the Rhino is inherently defective. The off-road vehicle is susceptible to rollovers even when it was traveling at low speeds. Even Yamaha Rhino riders who were riding their off-road vehicle on relatively flat roads were injured in accidents. Additionally, the vehicle offered no protection against crushing injuries or amputations when limbs were trapped underneath the vehicle. Yamaha responded to criticism by saying that its vehicles were safely designed, and that these accidents and injuries were the result of riders’ failure to follow all safety instructions and use the vehicle according to manufacturer specifications.

However, under pressure from the Consumer Product Safety Commission, Yamaha has modified the design of the Rhino. It has included aids on the Rhino to keep riders’ legs and feet inside the vehicle. In 2009, Yamaha launched a free repair program that removed the sway bar, and placed doors on Rhinos that did not have doors.

The Atlanta product liability attorneys at the Katz Law Firm represent persons injured by the use of defective products in the metro Atlanta region and across Georgia. If you have suffered injuries from the use of a defective product, speak with a product liability attorney at our firm.

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