Recalled Rhino Utility Vehicle Injuries

Rhino Safety Hazards DescribedRecalled Rhino Utility Vehicle Injuries

A Rhino, made by Yamaha, the motorcycle manufacturer, has no doors, and is configured such that the driver and passenger sit side by side. The vehicle has a narrow track, (that is the distance between the wheels on the driver's side and those on the passenger side) and also a short wheelbase, (the distance between front and rear wheels), with a high center of gravity, making the vehicle top heavy or prone to roll-over, even at low speeds, and on flat ground. They also incorporated a powerful engine, creating a dangerous combination of factors which causes a much greater roll-over potential. The lack of doors forces occupants out of the vehicle as it rolls over. There is no protection for arms and legs getting crushed. Instinctively, one may try to prevent a vehicle from rolling over; but a person cannot prevent a half ton vehicle from tipping over by attempting to brace with one's leg. Aftermarket suppliers sell doors to address this design defect, as well as sturdier roll cages which decrease the "crush" or deformation of the roof into the passenger department during a roll-over.

Yamaha sold about 140,000 of these vehicles, most of which were sold between 2006 and 2008. In 2007, Yamaha introduced an on product warning ( Click here to view), sent it to customers to place upon their vehicles describing the dangers, and the availability of free installation of optional hand straps and doors to help keep arms and legs inside during roll-overs.

Despite over 200 lawsuits and 30 deaths attributable to these defects, with many children as victims, Yamaha refused to issue a voluntary recall. Also, these type vehicles, known as utility terrain vehicles (UTV), are not subject to the same voluntary standards applicable to ATV's. An ATV is steered with a handlebar, while a UTV has a steering wheel.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), the agency with regulatory authority for the safety of these vehicles, as well as ATV's, has launched an investigation into the safety of these vehicles amid a high rate of injury and death. Heidi Crow wrote a story she submitted in 2008 to the CPSC, describing how the Rhino defects took the life of her nine year old boy, Jeremy, during his last ride on a Yamaha Rhino. She submitted her opinion, outlining the reasons why the Rhino is unreasonably dangerous. She wrote the following about Yamaha employees who have driven the Rhino:

"Rhino tipovers and injuries have often involved Yamaha Motor test drivers and employees, including tipover and/or tipover injuries to Yamaha France employee Jean Claude Olivier, Engineering Vice President Mr. Ike Miyachi, President Casey Yoshida, test engineer Caleb Chesser, product tester Phillip McRae, and test rider Patrick Biolsi. Despite such knowledge, Yamaha has yet to modify the Rhino's design to correct its stability problems."

The CPSC issued a recall in May, 2009, suspending sales, and warning customers to suspend all use until Yamaha corrects the safety defect. CPSC Recalls Rhinos

If you or a family member have been injured or killed by a roll-over while using a Yamaha Rhino UTV, and you would like to know about your legal rights to recover compensation, please contact me by phone (866-279-9772) or email, rfoster@fosterfoster.com