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All-terrain vehicles are generally safe modes of transportation, especially when they are not used on roadways. Many hunters and recreational riders use their ATVs every day without incident. When ATVs and roadways mix, however, the consequences can often be fatal. Two families spent their holiday season preparing for the funerals of two accident victims, whose wrongful death can be blamed on a car accident along Happy Hollow Road.

The two men, ages 24 and 31, were riding their ATVs side-by-side along the road on New Year’s Eve when they were struck head-on by a car. An occupant in the car reported that she only saw headlights cresting over a hill before they struck the riders. People in the car were hysterical when they realized that they had struck two ATV riders, both of whom were declared dead at the scene.

Authorities say that ATV riding is prohibited on Happy Hollow Road, so it is unlikely that the driver of the car will face criminal penalties in connection with the accident. Initial reports indicate that the ATV riders may have crossed the center line shortly before the accident, and the riders are thought to have been drinking. Families of the ATV riders say conflicting reports have been issued about the accident, and they will wait until a full investigation is released before making comments.

Even though the driver of the car may not face criminal sanctions in connection with the accident, that person may be the subject of a wrongful death suit. If the families of the ATV drivers can prove that the vehicle operator was negligent, for example, they could recover damages associated with the accident. Those damages could include compensation for funeral expenses and other costs, along with compensatory funds for pain and suffering and emotional distress. If the men were breadwinners for their families, loss of income suits could also be filed.

The investigation is still active and pending full toxicology reports.

Source: WSAZ3, “Families talk about deadly ATV-car crash,” Jan. 2, 2013.