more lawsuits have been filed in connection with injuries suffered as a result of the Yamaha Rhino utility terrain vehicle or UTV, according to a November 11, 2008 news report on this Web site. Both lawsuits allege that the Yamaha Rhino contains multiple design flaws that make it unstable and prone to tipping and rolling over, causing catastrophic injuries and in many cases, death. Earlier this month, federal safety officials announced that they are investigating the Yamaha Rhino, which has been linked to 30 deaths so far and has been the target of at least 200 product liability lawsuits.

The U. S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has not set safety standards for vehicle such as the Rhino, which has been categorized as a utility terrain vehicle. All-terrain vehicles or ATVs on the other hand, are subject to safety standards. UTVs are different from ATVs in that they have a steering wheel as opposed to handlebars. Critics of the Yamaha Rhino say this particular vehicle is more prone to rollover accidents than other off-road vehicles because of its defective design. It is top-heavy and has tires that are very narrow which makes it prone to tipping over, even when the vehicle is making a turn at low speeds. The Rhino is also designed in such a manner that passengers’ legs are unprotected in the event of a rollover crash.

The most common types of injuries seen in Yamaha Rhino rollover accidents include crushed legs, ankles or feet and loss of limbs. Some of these accidents have left victims permanently disabled. Accidents that involve children often result in fatalities. Among the most recent lawsuits is one filed by parents of an 11-year-old Tennessee girl who suffered severe injuries to her knee, arm, foot and ankle. She required extensive surgery and the amputation of four toes on her right foot. The accident occurred on June 10, 2005. Another personal injury lawsuit was also filed in Georgia by a 47-year-old man who suffered catastrophic injuries in an August 17, 2007 Yamaha Rhino rollover accident. The vehicle he was riding apparently tipped over at a low rate of speed.

I’d bet it wouldn’t take much for Yamaha to make the design changes needed to make it a safer vehicle for consumers. Yamaha has not made these modifications in spite of the availability of safe and inexpensive alternative designs. These design changes could have saved lives and saved innocent people from catastrophic injuries. Hopefully, these lawsuits will motivate Yamaha to make the necessary changes to make their products safer for consumers.