Yamaha Rhino Class Action
The Yamaha Rhino UTV (utility terrain vehicle) is a cross between an ATV and a very small pickup. The Rhino seats two passengers side by side within a roll cage and provides a utility box on the back that is basically a very small pickup bed. These UTVs are not designed to be driven on the road – in fact, Yamaha now puts a permanent warning label on every Rhino sold stating that the vehicle should not be driven on pavement. That includes flat pavement – Yamaha has produced an off-road vehicle that is in danger of rollover on flat, paved surfaces.
There have been several fatalities and many injuries as a result of Yamaha Rhino accidents. The vehicle’s narrow chassis, small wheels and high center of gravity make it relatively easy to tip the vehicle to one side or the other. Until 2008 the Rhino had no doors or hand-grips. There have been multiple incidents where Rhino riders have had severe leg injuries due to the individual’s limbs being thrown sideways in a rollover with no protection provided by the vehicle’s design.
Yamaha has redesigned the Rhino to include doors and hand-grips as standard features on the 2008 model. In apparent recognition of the lack of rider protection in the event of a rollover, they have also offered to retrofit any Rhino built between 2004 and 2007 with doors and hand-grips at no charge. The wheelbase and center of gravity remain the same, however, and the Rhino rollovers are no doubt going to continue.
The first product liability suit against Yamaha as the result of a Rhino rollover was filed in 2005. There are sure to be many more, given the design flaws in the Rhino and the types of injuries that occur even to riders wearing seat-belts. These include severe injuries to limbs – some that have required amputation – and spinal injuries as the result of partial ejection. A class action suit based on the Yamaha Rhino rollover propensity is inevitable.
One of the most telling statistics regarding ATVs and UTVs in general is that one third of the injuries reported nationally every year involve children. Yamaha’s Rhino has a permanent warning label on it that not only states the vehicle cannot be driven on pavement but also declares that no unlicensed driver and no one under the age of sixteen should be at the wheel.
The Yamaha Rhino is no off-road vehicle that can be parked alongside the house. They are dangerous on paved surfaces and apparently too tricky to be piloted by anyone’s kid who has an interest in off-roading. It’s a vehicle that is going to injure many people on many surfaces and Yamaha will one day find itself defending a class action suit based on the parents and kids that have been killed and maimed by its Rhino UTV.