The Yamaha Rhino, was a hit in the off-road-vehicle market, promising to go “almost anywhere” with an “amazingly high level of comfort and ease.” Now, federal safety regulators are investigating the vehicle following reports of some 30 deaths involving it, including those of two young girls last month.
Yamaha faces more than 200 lawsuits in state and federal courts, many alleging the Rhino’s design is unsafe. Yamaha has settled some but recently beefed up its defense and says it may start to fight rather than settle.
Yamaha stands behind the design of the Rhino, a two-seat vehicle that looks a little like a cross between a golf cart and all-terrain vehicle. The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) said its investigation of the utility terrain vehicle, or UTV, was prompted by the number of accident reports and the lawsuits.
Many injury claims, Yamaha said, result from improper operation, modifications such as removing the protective “roll cage,” or failure to use a helmet and seat belt.
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The Rhino is no subject to ATV safety standards because of design differences such as having a steering wheel, in contrast to the ATVs’ handlebars.
This is how consumer regulation often works: Products hit the market governed by no particular safety standards. If injury reports later arise concerning a product, these gradually get the attention of both manufacturers and regulators.
Yamaha, which has made safety modifications and stepped up warnings to consumers in recent years, said it looks forward to working with the CPSC and consumer groups to develop safety standards for this type of vehicle.
A 44-year-old Texan mechanic, took a 2007 Rhino 660 for a test spin in July after doing some repair work on it. He says he lost control during a “fairly sharp” right-hand turn and the Rhino began to topple to its left. He says he stuck his leg out of the vehicle, which was doorless, to keep the Rhino from tipping over, but it did go over, pinning his leg.
Rhinos weigh about 1,100 pounds. “It just snapped my leg,” says the man, who now has a metal device in the leg.
If you or a family member have been injured as a result of the fault of someone else; by negligence, slip and fall, car accident, medical malpractice, trucking accident, drunk driving, a bad product etc then please contact the Doctor Attorney Dr. Shezad Malik of Southlake, Texas. For a no obligation, free case analysis, please call 817-255-4001 or Contact Me Online.
Legal Analysis: An accident waiting to happen. A poorly designed vehicle, pitched to teenagers and young men who in their bravado do not appreciate the dangers with this vehicle. Back to the drawing board.