Recreational Safety

April 6th, 2016 by Attorney John Colvin

Couple Mountain Biking

Understanding the Risks of Recreational Activities

Tennessee’s lakes, mountains, and forests attract numerous outdoor enthusiasts to the state year-round. From ATV excursions to zip lining, visitors can find a variety of recreational activities to suit their interests. But those activities are not without risk.

Every year, people are injured or killed in recreational accidents in Tennessee. Some are visitors, but many are native Tennesseans. These incidents tend to spike in the summer, when more people are out enjoying the fresh air. There are many reasons recreational activities can be dangerous, and understanding those risks may help people avoid an accident.

ATV Risk

In January 2016, the Consumer Product Safety Commission released its 2014 Annual Report of ATV-Related Deaths and Injuries. The report stated that between 1982 and Dec. 21, 2014, approximately 13,617 ATV-related deaths occurred in the U.S. The actual number is probably higher, as reporting for 2012 through 2014 is still in progress.

Between 1982 and 2011, Tennessee reported 470 ATV-related fatalities – the seventh highest number among all states.

ATV-related injuries and fatalities are more likely when riders are inexperienced, inebriated, too small for the size of the vehicle, or aren’t wearing a helmet. Many companies in Tennessee offer daily ATV rentals, and the terms and conditions of rental contracts vary. But most of these companies offer no training. Some require riders to wear safety equipment, and some simply “recommend” that riders wear helmets.

ATVs are powerful machines that can behave unpredictably on uneven terrain. Anyone who plans to rent one may want to take an ATV safety course, either in Tennessee, or in their home state, before vacationing in Tennessee.

Water Safety

Kayaking, fishing, or spending a day on jet skis can be a fun way to enjoy Tennessee’s waterways. Yet, sometimes these activities are deadly, especially when alcohol is involved.

In June 2015, a jet ski accident killed a University of Tennessee Knoxville student. His fraternity brother was riding another jet ski when he caused the crash; he was charged with boating under the influence of alcohol.

Operating a high-powered vehicle requires judgment and quick reflexes, just like driving a car. Alcohol use can impair those abilities and increase the risk of a crash.

Zip Line Precautions

A healthcare provider study found that zip line-related injuries increased 56 percent between 2009 and 2012, with more than 3,600 people seeking emergency room treatment in 2012 for their injuries. Researchers at the Center for Injury Research and Policy, a division of The Research Institute at Nationwide Children’s Hospital, found that children under age 10 accounted for almost half of these injuries, and the most common injuries were broken bones.

A lack of regulation allows many zip line companies nationwide to operate with no oversight. In Tennessee, since 2014, zip line companies have been required by law to submit to annual safety inspections, follow maintenance schedules, and maintain adequate insurance. Even so, accidents have occurred, such as one employee at a Knoxville zip line operator who fell at least 25 feet to the ground. State regulators shut down the operator in August 2015, as the company had reported a previous employee injury years before.

Safe Enjoyment of the Outdoors

Mountain biking, hunting, rock climbing, and other outdoor activities cause relatively few serious and fatal injuries overall. But when these and other recreational accidents do occur, they tend to attract a lot of media attention, because the story is often similar: A day of fun with friends turned tragic.

Understanding the rules that apply to a particular activity, along with training recommendations and safety equipment, can help prevent many recreational accidents.

John R. Colvin, Attorney at Law, has successfully represented injured clients throughout Tennessee and Alabama who have been seriously hurt in recreational accidents. For 20 years, he has been helping victims put their lives back on track and he is ready to help you. For advice on how to proceed next or if you have any questions about this topic, call (931) 962-1044 or submit our online form. Put his bold approach and client focus to work for you.

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Licensed to Practice in Tennessee & Alabama