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Olympic gold medalist severs spine in ATV accident

Just last month we discussed how All Terrain Vehicles (ATVs) have been involved in many serious and fatal accidents in recent years, yet they still remain very popular in California and neighboring states.

A couple of weeks later, it was reported that a six-time Olympic gold medalist severed her spine in an ATV accident, which serves as a reminder of just how dangerous the machines can be.

According to reports, the accident occurred in the parking lot of an Arizona restaurant when swimmer Amy Van Dyken hit a curb with the ATV she was driving and fell down a 5- to 7-foot embankment. A witness said he found the swimmer unresponsive and lying on the ground next to the ATV.

A letter from the swimmer’s family said that the broken vertebrae came within millimeters of rupturing the swimmer's aorta, which could have been fatal. The letter stated that the swimmer is in good spirits and good condition despite her devastating injury.

When an individual is injured in an ATV accident because of another person’s negligence or a mechanical defect, the accident victim is often entitled to damages. However, an investigation is often needed to determine if negligence or a mechanical defect played a role.

In this case, the swimmer’s husband admitted that he had recently modified the ATV and changed the throttle from a thumb accelerator to a twist accelerator, but he wasn’t sure if that had played a role in the accident.

Evidence like this can prove very important in personal injury lawsuits stemming from ATV accidents as manufacturers often attempt to argue that they are not responsible for a mechanical defect if the machine had been altered by the owner.

Ultimately, personal injury cases stemming from ATV accidents can get very complicated and can involve many different parties, which is why it’s so important to have an experienced lawyer on your side.

Source: Associated Press, “ Olympic star Van Dyken severs spinal cord in crash,” John Marshall, June 9, 2014

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