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Fatal ATV Accidents Reveal the Inherent Dangers of Four Wheeled All-Terrain Vehicles

March 24, 2018

There are many forms of recreation that are especially popular during the summer months which include off-roading on All Terrain Vehicles (ATVs). While riding ATVs can be a fun way to spend an afternoon, these vehicles can cause permanent debilitating injury when they rollover. The dangers that ATVs pose are provided by two recent tragic ATV accidents in Georgia. This multi-part blog post examines the legal issues involved in two separate ATV crashes that could lead to wrongful death actions.

Warner Robins (Houston County) ATV Accident Kills Teen Girl

A sixteen-year-old girl died when the ATV that she was a passenger on rolled over ejecting both she and the driver of the ATV according to The Telegraph newspaper. The operator of the ATV was a seventeen-year-old boy according the news report. Both the operator and passenger were reportedly thrown from the SUV when it rolled over. Tragically, neither rider was wearing any form of safety restraint. The driver of the SUV died while the girl did not survive her injuries. While the fatal Georgia ATV accident is still under investigation, the preliminary police investigation found that the teen boy was traveling at an unsafe speed when he attempted to negotiate the turn resulting in loss of control of the vehicle.

Midway, GA Fatal ATV Crash Kills Operator

In another fatal ATV accident during the last several weeks, a Midway (Liberty County) man’s body was discovered by a passing bus driver after the man was involved in a fatal Georgia ATV accident according to reports. While the Georgia State Patrol is still investigating the incident, the police told WTOC that the ATV rider failed to yield at a stop sign while attempting to take an excessively wide left turn. The rider struck a fence post.

Legal Principles & Considerations in Fatal Houston County All-Terrain Vehicle Crash

Our Georgia ATV accident attorneys express our deepest sympathies to the families of these tragic fatal recreational accidents. These accidents share some of the common risk that face all users of ATVs, which is their tendency to rollover and eject drivers and passengers from the vehicle. While the family of the teen girl who was killed in the Warner Robins may have a right to bring a wrongful death suit against the driver of the ATV based on the indication that the ATV was being driven too fast to negotiate the turn that caused it to roll.

Alternatively, the girl’s family may have to pursue legal action against the manufacturer of the ATV based on any product defects that made the vehicle to rollover or the absence of safety equipment, such as safety restraints or roll bars that may have prevented injury. If the boy’s parents were the owners of the ATV and entrusted the ATV to their son, this may also impose a basis for imposing liability.

Legal Issues Complicating Potential Midway ATV Wrongful Death Lawsuit

The potential viability of a wrongful death claim is more problematic in the Midway ATV accident because the fatality victim was the driver. Further, the preliminary law enforcement report indicated that the accident was caused by the ATV operator’s unsafe driving. While this may give rise to a claim for comparative negligence of the fatally injured man, this does not necessarily preclude recovery against the manufacturer of the ATV. If the ATV was prone to tip over or was otherwise defective, which may include a lack of appropriate safety equipment, the designer, manufacturer, distributor or retailer may be liable for injuries. While the insurance company for the manufacturer of the ATV would likely argue that the rider’s own negligence contributed to his injuries, this would not preclude recovery unless the jury determined that the rider was fifty percent or more at-fault. Any lessor degree of fault assigned by the jury would result in a reduction in recovery according to the rider’s degree of fault.

Three Key Facts to Know About ATVs

These accidents illustrate the potential danger posed to riders of ATVs so we have provided three key facts every ATV operator should know about ATV accidents.

  1. ATVs Must Comply with Strict Safety Standards: The Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008 enacted safety standards for ATVs. These minimum safety standards impose requirements for performance, design and configuration to prevent serious injuries and fatalities in ATV accidents. Our experienced Atlanta ATV accident attorneys are familiar with these standards and recognize the importance of analyze whether the standards have been met when ATV injuries or fatalities occur. 
  2. ATVs May Be More Dangerous Than Motorcycles: A study conducted by John Hopkins University compared the relative danger posed by riding four wheel ATVs to the risk of “extreme” sports on two wheeled off-road motorcycles. The researchers found that ATV vehicle riders were fifty percent more likely to die from their injuries than those with similar injuries who were riding dirt bikes. The ATV riders were also 55 percent more likely to need hospitalization and 42 percent more likely to need to be placed on a ventilator. The study authors indicate that the study dispels the myth that four wheels are always safer than two.
  3. Wearing Protective Equipment Can Make a Difference: While the researchers in the John Hopkins study could not reach a definitive conclusion about why the risk of serious injury and fatality was so much higher for those on ATVs as opposed to motocross motorcycle riders, they inferred helmet use was partially responsible. Approximately sixty percent of the motocross motorcycle riders involved in the study wore helmets whereas only about thirty percent of ATV riders did. 

Put Our Law Firm's Over 38 Years Of Legal Experience To Work For Your Case!

The purpose of this article is to educate the Georgia public about the dangers of driving ATVs. Montlick & Associates has been representing those who suffer serious injuries throughout all of Georgia and in the Southeast for over 38 years, including but not limited to Albany, Athens, Atlanta, Augusta, Columbus, Gainesville, Macon, Marietta, Rome, Roswell, Savannah, Smyrna, Valdosta, Warner Robins and all smaller cities and rural areas in the state.

No matter where you are located our attorneys are just a phone call away, and we will even come to you. Call us 24 hours day/7 days a week for your Free Consultation at 1-800-LAW-NEED (1-800-529-6333). You can also visit us online at and use our Free Case Evaluation Form or 24-hour live chat.


Montlick & Associates, Attorneys at Law
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Atlanta, GA 30329
Telephone: 1 (800) LAW-NEED
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Category: Personal Injury

Please Note:
Many of our blog articles discuss the law. All information provided about the law is very general in nature and should not be relied upon as legal advice. Every situation is different, and should be analyzed by a lawyer who can provide individualized advice based on the facts involved in your unique situation, and a consideration of all of the nuances of the statutes and case law that apply at the time.