Exploring the numerous off-roading trails that snake through the picturesque landscapes surrounding Phoenix is always a good time. The thrill of navigating rugged terrains, conquering challenging obstacles, and witnessing breathtaking vistas creates an unforgettable experience for visitors and residents alike. Off-roading in this region offers a unique blend of excitement and tranquility, allowing you to escape the urban hustle and bustle and immerse yourself in nature’s wonders.
However, even the most exciting activity can quickly turn sour when faced with a defective off-roading vehicle. Imagine the frustration of setting out on a thrilling expedition, only to have your vehicle malfunction in the midst of the journey. A defective fuel pump or tank, like those involved in the recent recall of Polaris off-road vehicles, could abruptly halt your adventure, leaving you stranded in the middle of nowhere and turning what should be a day of enjoyment into a logistical, possibly dangerous, nightmare. The disappointment of having to cut short your off-roading escapade due to a preventable issue underscores the importance of ensuring the reliability and safety of your vehicle before embarking on such journeys. To truly savor the beauty and challenges of off-roading in the Phoenix area, having a dependable vehicle is an absolute necessity.
What to know about the recent Polaris recall
Polaris off-road vehicles, Bobcat utility vehicles, Gravely utility vehicles, fuel pump kits and fuel tank assemblies were issued a recall on August 11th of this year. The main reason for the recall is due to “a fuel leak [that] can occur at the fuel pump outlet connector on the fuel tank near a hot surface, posing a fire hazard.”
The key components of the recall involves:
- Models and parts:
- Model Year 2021-2023 Polaris RANGER 1000, 1000 Crew, XP 1000, XP 1000 Crew
- Model Year 2021-2022 Polaris RZR Pro XP (2-Seat Only)
- Model Year 2021 Polaris Pro XD Full-Size Gas
- Model Year 2021-2022 Polaris Pro XD Full Size Gas Crew
- Model Year 2021 Bobcat UV34 Gas and UV34 XL Gas
- Model Year 2022 Bobcat UV34 Gas
- Model Year 2022-2023 Bobcat UV34 XL Gas
- Model Year 2021 Gravely Atlas JSV 3400
- Model Year 2021 and 2023 Gravely Atlas JSV 6400 off-road vehicles
- Fuel Pump Kits with part number 2208123
- Fuel Tank Assemblies with part numbers 2521943, 2522060, and 2522267 sold by Polaris
- Fuel Pump Kits with part number 7396260 sold by Bobcat
- Vehicle colors:
- Black, blue, burgundy, brown, camouflage, graphite, green, gray, navy blue, red, titanium, and white
- Vehicle types:
- RANGER vehicles: three or six seats
- Pro XD, Ariens/Gravely, and Bobcat vehicles: two or four seats
- RZR vehicles: two seats
- Polaris vehicles: “POLARIS” stamped on the front grille
- Gravely vehicles: “Gravely” stamped on the front grille
- Bobcat vehicles: Bobcat logo on the front grille
- Fuel pump and tank:
- Fuel pump kits and fuel tank assemblies are mostly plastic
- Fuel pump sits inside the fuel tank
If you own one of the recalled vehicles, it’s crucial to discontinue its use right away. If you have not experienced a fire and have not been injured, you can reach out to either Polaris or an authorized dealer affiliated with Polaris (for Polaris vehicles), Gravely (for Gravely vehicles), or Bobcat (for Bobcat vehicles). Arrange for a complimentary inspection and repair appointment. Depending on the specific type of your vehicle, the dealer will replace either the fuel pump or the fuel tank at no cost. Both Polaris, Gravely, and Bobcat are taking proactive steps to ensure consumer safety. They have not only informed vehicle owners to cease riding their vehicles but are also actively communicating this recall and the offered free repair to all dealers and registered owners. If you have been injured due to a fire when using your Polaris vehicle, please call a lawyer to get advice before communicating with Polaris or the dealer.
The dangers of off-roading vehicles
Off-road vehicles provide an exciting and adventurous way to explore rugged terrains, but it’s important to be aware of the potential dangers they pose. While these vehicles are designed to tackle challenging environments, they also come with inherent risks that require careful consideration and responsible usage.
The risks of off-road vehicles include:
- Terrain challenges. Off-roading often involves traversing uneven, rocky, and challenging terrains. These conditions can put immense strain on both the vehicle and the driver. Steep inclines, sharp turns, and unexpected obstacles require skilled maneuvering and a deep understanding of the vehicle’s capabilities.
- Vehicle rollovers. One of the most significant dangers in off-roading is the risk of vehicle rollovers. Uneven surfaces, unstable ground, and aggressive driving can lead to loss of control and potentially flip the vehicle. Proper training, knowing the terrain, and adhering to safe driving practices are essential in mitigating this risk.
- Mechanical failures. A vehicle subjected to the rigors of off-roading can experience mechanical failures, especially if it’s not adequately maintained. A breakdown far from civilization can leave adventurers stranded and vulnerable to the elements.
- Lack of safety features. Some off-road vehicles may lack the comprehensive safety features found in standard vehicles, such as airbags and reinforced frames. This means occupants are more exposed to potential injuries in the event of accidents.
- Speed and control. The thrill of off-roading can sometimes lead to excessive speeds, which can reduce the driver’s ability to maintain control. High speeds on rough terrain increase the chances of collisions, rollovers, and accidents.
- Limited stability. Off-road vehicles are built for versatility and ruggedness, but this can result in reduced stability on regular roadways. Sudden swerves or hard braking can be more challenging to manage in these vehicles, potentially leading to loss of control.
- Lack of experience. Novice off-roaders might not be familiar with the nuances of off-road driving. Inexperience can lead to poor decision-making, increasing the likelihood of accidents.
To enjoy off-road vehicles safely, it’s essential to prioritize responsible usage and adhere to safety guidelines. This includes acquiring the necessary training, using appropriate safety equipment, and practicing sound driving techniques. Regular maintenance and inspections of the vehicle are critical to prevent mechanical failures and ensure optimal performance. While these are some ways in which you can mitigate the risks of off-roading, when the vehicle itself has defects due to poor design by the manufacturer, you may end up injured in an accident no matter how thoroughly you prepare.
Increased risk of burn injuries
With the current recall focusing on the faulty fuel pumps, and how they can allow for fuel leaks onto a hot surface, the first and most likely injury you can sustain from this defect is a burn injury.
The combination of a fuel leak and a nearby hot surface creates a potentially explosive situation. Fuel leaks can release flammable gasoline vapors into the immediate vicinity. If these vapors come into contact with a heat source—such as an engine component or exhaust system—they can ignite, leading to a fire that can spread rapidly. This situation poses a danger not only to the vehicle occupants but also to bystanders, especially if the incident occurs in close proximity to other flammable materials or in dry environments prone to wildfires.
Burn injuries resulting from fires can range from mild to severe, with consequences that extend beyond the immediate incident. In minor cases, individuals may sustain superficial burns that cause discomfort and require medical attention. However, more severe burns can lead to excruciating pain, tissue damage, scarring, and even long-term disabilities. Inhalation of smoke and toxic fumes during a fire can further exacerbate health risks.
What other injuries are caused by off-road vehicles?
Off-vehicles, even when they are not in recall, pose other risks as well, leading to a host of catastrophic injuries. Other than burn injuries, further injuries that are caused by off-road vehicles include:
- Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs)
- Spinal cord injuries (SCIs)
- Back and neck injuries
- Traumatic amputation
- Fractured bones
- Internal organ damage
- Crush injuries
- Wrongful death
These injuries are often life-threatening, and when you are off-roading, you may be in the middle of nowhere without help, increasing the probability of fatalities. This is why it is important to take every precaution if you do choose to go off-roading. If you do end up injured, or if someone you love is killed due to an accident, it is important that you have a Phoenix personal injury attorney who can help you receive the restitution you deserve, especially if the accident was caused by a defective vehicle or part.
What should I do if I am hurt by a defective product?
If you sustain an injury due to a defective product, it’s important to take certain steps to protect your well-being and legal rights. Here’s a guide on what you should do if you get hurt by a defective product:
- Seek medical attention
- Contact a lawyer
- Preserve the vehicle and its component parts (as evidence)
- Take photos of the damage to the vehicle
- Take photos of any burns, injuries, or other damage
- Report the incident to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC)
- Document the details of how you were injured
- Contact the manufacturer or seller
Product liability claims in Arizona generally have a two year statute of limitations, which are time limits within which you must file a lawsuit. The sooner you contact us, the sooner we can get to work helping you. Avoid signing any documents, agreements, or waivers from the manufacturer, seller, or insurance company without first consulting us. Signing such documents could impact your ability to seek compensation later. We can guide you through the process, negotiate with involved parties, and pursue compensation for your medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other damages resulting from the defective product.
At Plattner Verderame, PC, we have years of experience in handling all different sorts of product liability cases. We keep up to date with current recalls of products that pose hazards to the general public. If you think you have been injured by a defective product such as these off-road vehicles and their parts, do not hesitate to contact us and schedule a free initial consultation by calling us at our Phoenix or Tempe offices, or use our contact page. Let us help you receive the compensation you deserve.
Partner Frank Verderame is a seasoned trial attorney, who has dedicated his life to helping victims of serious injuries. He is a Board Certified Specialist in Personal Injury and Wrongful Death Litigation, and has been an active part of legal communities and organizations since he started his practice, back in 1983.
Read more about Frank Verderame