Polaris RZR Off Road Vehicle Fire Lawsuits Causing Death and Injury
Off-road vehicles and golf carts have been the subject of numerous recalls recently. These recreational vehicles are particularly dangerous because of the lack of protection that operators and their passengers have in the event of a car. Polaris off-road vehicles are among the more dangerous recreational products, based on the company’s dismal safety record. The company has faced numerous lawsuits in the past decade, in addition to CPSC action for Polaris’ inability to be forthcoming about the dangers of its own products. If you or a loved one have been injured by a Polaris off-road vehicle, you may be entitled to financial compensation by way of a Polaris off road vehicle lawsuit.
The Polaris RZR is the company’s recreational vehicle designed for off-road driving. The company sold over 400,000 of these popular vehicles between 2008 to 2018. The company likes to sell an image of its products as perfectly suited for thrill seekers. The problem is that the product itself was dangerous.
Polaris Engines Can Overheat and Catch Fire
The Polaris product defects are a prime example of a company behaving badly, selling a product to the public that they knew to be defective because it was popular and profitable. In these cases, it cost at least three people their lives and injured a number of others.
Here, the product defect was that the vehicles could overheat and catch fire. These problems have plagued Polaris vehicles for years. Even in the face of continuous news reports about users being injured in fires, Polaris was slow to stop selling their off-road vehicles.
Polaris Off road lawsuit
The specific issue is likely with the engine that Polaris used for its RZR and off-road vehicles. Polaris vehicles seat the driver and the passenger side-by-side. There are plastic panels that separate the occupants from the engine. Not long after Polaris debuted the engine, it began receiving complaints that these plastic panels were melting from the engine overheating.
Polaris Did Everything it Could to Avoid a Recall
Polaris was faced with a choice. The company could recall a popular product and protect consumers, or it could continue to sell the product. Polaris chose to keep making money. The company put out a bulletin to dealers that they should attach aluminum sheets to the damaged panels. This was the equivalent of putting a Band Aid on the problem, and it did nothing to address the problem of an overheating engine. For Polaris, the important thing was that it did not have to notify the federal government of the problem and take a hit to its reputation.
Polaris did not just fail to notify consumers of potential defects, but it also violated its legal obligations to notify the Consumer Products Safety Commission. In 2018, Polaris paid a $27.25 million fine for failing to inform the CPSC of fire hazards.
The problem is that Polaris takes some action regarding fire hazards but does not call it what it is. The company has put “stop sale” notices on its website. However, consumers would have no way of knowing that they have bought a potentially deadly product. These notices covered nearly 80,000 vehicles, yet the CPSC was never told of the issues.
Polaris Has a Poor Safety History
Polaris has a long and checkered history with regard to the safety of its products. The market leader in sales is also a market leader in recalls. Roughly one in every three recalls of off-road vehicles since 2010 has been for Polaris vehicles. These are just the recalls that Polaris officially acknowledged. To be clear, the company has issued recalls relating to brake problems. However, there were no public warnings or recalls related to fire safety issues.
Part of the issue is that the CPSC has little power when it comes to product defects. Unlike the FDA, it cannot order a mandatory recall. While the agency must be notified of defects, it can only negotiate recalls with the product makers. Companies have more power to deal with recalls as they see fit.
In fire hazard cases, Polaris has two potential legal issues:
- The off-road vehicle is defectively designed, causing the fire risk
- The company knew or should have known of the defects, yet it failed to adequately warn the public
Polaris has already settled several lawsuits relating to fire injuries and deaths. There are numerous other lawsuits pending. In one case, the family of a Utah man filed a lawsuit after he died from third-degree burns suffered when his Polaris vehicle suddenly caught fire.
Polaris Off-Road Vehicle Verdicts and Settlements
Burn injury settlements can be very high due to the severe nature of the injury. Even if the victim survives their initial injury, they will be in for a long process of treatment and rehabilitation. Burn victims often need multiple skin grafts that can cost around $30,000 each. In addition, burn injuries also involve significant pain and suffering. Victims can also be paid for the permanent disfigurement that they suffer and the embarrassment from their injuries.
While settlement figures in Polaris cases have largely not been published, injured plaintiffs can expect to be compensated for the following:
- Medical bills
- Lost wages
- Pain and suffering
- Permanent disfigurement and scarring
- Embarrassment and humiliation
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Wrongful death (if a family member died in the accident)
These are the types of cases where juries like to send a message to the company that has sold a defective product. When companies continue to sell products that they know to be dangerous, juries often award punitive damages to the injured plaintiffs. If you or a loved one have been injured by a Polaris off-road vehicle, you can file a product liability lawsuit against the company. First, you must speak with an experienced Polaris ZRZ off road fire lawsuit attorney who can learn more about your case and advise you of your legal options.