Federal Safety Regulators Investigating Yamaha Rhino after 30 Reported Deaths
November 5, 2008
An article published on the front page of today’s Wall Street Journal states that federal safety regulators are investigating the Yamaha Rhino (Rhino) following reports of some 30 deaths involving it, including the deaths of two young girls last month. The Yamaha Rhino, a popular off-road vehicle, has been criticized as being too high off the ground with its wheels too close together, making it prone to tipping over and causing serious injury and death.
The Rhino has already caught the attention of the plaintiffs’ bar. In fact, Yamaha currently faces more than 200 lawsuits in state and federal courts related to the Rhino, with many lawsuits alleging that the Rhino’s design is unsafe. Although Yamaha has settled some of these lawsuits, the company recently said it may start to fight Rhino lawsuits rather than settle.
Yamaha says the Rhino, a two-seat off-road vehicle that looks a little like a cross between a golf cart and ATV, has a safe design. The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), however, said it is investigating the safety of this type of vehicle, which it calls a utility terrain vehicle (UTV), for various reasons. According to the agency, the number of Rhino accident reports and lawsuits contributed to its decision to investigate UTVs. People familiar with the investigation have said the Rhino is at the center of the CPSC’s investigation.
Because UTVs, like the Rhino, are a new breed of vehicle, there are no government safety regulations that apply to them. The Rhino is not subject to the ATV safety standards because it has substantial design differences. For example, the Rhino has a steering wheel, while ATVs have handlebars.
The Rhino matter is illustrates of what many people view as a defect in the consumer regulation process: new products hit the market governed by no particular safety standards, and only after injury reports later arise, do regulators implement safety standards.
Yamaha Rhino Injury Lawyers
If you or a family member were injured in an accident involving a Yamaha Rhino, you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries. Contact our experienced personal injury attorneys today for a free and confidential case evaluation.