Recreational vehicles that are not meant to be on the highway can cause a real headache for other drivers who are sharing the road. This is especially true if the off-road vehicle causes an accident. If you are injured in an accident involving an off-road vehicle, you may be wondering who may be liable for your damages.
Call our knowledgeable Fort Worth personal injury lawyers to discuss your claim during a free consultation to learn more about your legal options. We do not charge you anything up front and there are no fees unless we win.
Below, we discuss what classifies as an off-road vehicle and how the law may help determine liability if a crash occurs.
Texas Laws for Off-Road Vehicles
According to the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles, there are certain rules for vehicles that are not meant to be on highways. These types of vehicles are often also considered “off-road” vehicles, and include the following:
- All-Terrain Vehicles (ATV) – These have a seat for the rider and one passenger, three or more tires, are not more than 50 inches wide, is designated for off-highway use and is not designed by the manufacturer for farm or lawn care.
- Recreational Off-Highway Vehicle (ROV) – These vehicles have a seat for the rider and one or more passengers, four or more tires, are designed for off-highway use and are not designed by the manufacturer for farm or lawn care.
- Utility Vehicle (UTV) – These have side-by-side seating for the operator and passenger, four or more tires, are designed for off-highway use and are designed by the manufacturer for utility work and not for recreational purposes.
- Sand Rail vehicle – These are designed for off-highway use in sandy terrain, have a tubular frame, have an integrated roll cage, have an engine that is mounted in the rear or placed midway between the front and rear axles and has a gross vehicle weight between 700 and 2,000 pounds.
All ATVs, ROVs, UTVs and Sand Rails with a license plate for off-highway use may be driven on roads in some situations, including:
- A planned community with a set covenant
- A county or municipality with an approved plat
- A road with a posted speed limit of 35 mph or less, but only during the day and no less than two miles from where the vehicle is kept
- To cross intersections such as a road or street that has a posted speed limit of 35 mph or less.
Cities and certain counties are allowed to authorize these types of vehicles on roads within the boundaries of the city or within unincorporated areas of the counties. However, to operate on a roadway the vehicles must have an Off-Highway license plate. This means the vehicles must be registered with the state.
Off-highway vehicles, as the name implies, are not legally allowed to be driven on any highways or roads that have a posted speed limit above 35 mph.
Determining Liability in an Off-Road Vehicle Accident
The rules for off-highway and off-road vehicles in Texas are clear – these vehicles are not allowed on main roadways. If you are injured in an accident with an off-road vehicle, the first consideration as it relates to liability is whether the accident occurred on a road where the vehicle was not allowed. If so, you may be able to hold the owner of the off-road vehicle liable for your damages.
However, if the crash occurs somewhere the off-road vehicle was allowed to be, liability comes down to which driver acted negligently. Both drivers in these scenarios owe a duty of care to the other, so the driver who breached that duty would be liable for damages. Examples of a breach of duty that could lead to a crash include:
Let our attorneys investigate your claim to help you determine who may be liable for your damages after an off-road vehicle collision.
Can I File a Claim for an Off-Road Vehicle Accident?
If you were injured in an accident involving an off-road or off-highway vehicle, you may be able to file a claim with the liability insurance of the at-fault driver or owner of the vehicle.
It is important to note that there must be an existing liability insurance policy to do so, though. Otherwise, you may have to seek compensation directly from the owner of the off-road vehicle or its driver.
Does Texas Require Liability Insurance for Off-Road Vehicles?
Texas law does not require liability insurance for off-highway or off-road vehicles, but most people do purchase a policy in case of an accident.
If there is an insurance policy, you may be able to file a claim just as you would if the accident were with a regular motor vehicle. Our attorneys are prepared to help you through this process.
However, if there is no insurance policy, you may need to file a lawsuit directly against the owner of the vehicle or its driver to pursue compensation for your damages. You should strongly consider speaking to our knowledgeable attorneys before taking this step.
You may also be able to file an uninsured motorist claim with your own insurance policy if you have this coverage. However, these claims may be complicated, which is why you should hire an attorney to help you.
What if I Was in the Off-Road Vehicle?
If you were either the driver or passenger in an off-road vehicle that was hit by a car, you may be able to file a claim with the liability insurance of that motor vehicle. You would still need to prove negligence on behalf of the other driver.
Call an Experienced Attorney Today
Accident claims involving off-road vehicles may be more complex than claims involving passenger vehicles. Let our experienced lawyers help you through the process. We offer a free consultation and charge you nothing up front. We only get paid if you do.
Our attorneys have over 50 years of combined experience and have helped injury victims recover millions in compensation.
Call (817) 920-9000 to schedule a free consultation.