Australian Lawyer Who Fought Safety Rollbars On Off-Road Vehicles Dies In Rollover Of Off-Road Vehicle

A prominent lawyer Melbourne barrister, Ross Ray QC, was killed recently in an accident that was both ironic and tragic in its facts. Ray was the lead litigator fighting a requirement of safety rollbars on “quad bike” or off-road vehicles. He was killed on his farm in Mansfield when his quad bike rolled over and pinned him due to the lack of a rollbar.

In 2005, Ray appeared in court on behalf of quad bike maker Honda to dismiss a coroner from an inquest into deaths in Victoria and Tasmania involving quad bikes. He sought unsuccessfully to disqualify Victorian coroner Graeme Johnstone from the inquest after the coroner expressed a view that an absence of roll-over bars on quad bikes led to the deaths of two people. Ray argued that this view was evidence of bias, but the court disagreed.

Quad bikes accounted for almost 40 per cent of all farm deaths in Australia last year. Quad bikes have been the leading cause of death on farms for the past five years with more than 200 people killed while riding the bikes since 2001.

26 thoughts on “Australian Lawyer Who Fought Safety Rollbars On Off-Road Vehicles Dies In Rollover Of Off-Road Vehicle”

  1. The world may be a better place with one less nanny stater such as this guy….

    Sounds like he was trying to force protections against his irresponsible and reckless behavior on the rest of us….

    I will not miss a person like this.

  2. I’ve known people who got hurt going up too steep a hill where the things tip over backward. A distant relative got killed when his tractor, with a roll bar, rolled over. Apparently, it started slowly enough that he thought he had time to get out.

    Farm machinery in general is dangerous. Tractors tip over, and other machinery can cause serious injury, horses can buck you off, cattle can injure you, harvesting crops is back breaking, pesticides and herbicides can damage your health… Farmers can get hurt providing us with our food, so I hope you are thankful for what you eat. Even if it’s a hobby farm, it takes work and you can get hurt. You can also destroy your health sitting in front of the TV all day eating process food.

    I had never seen or heard of a quad roll bar, but a search on the internet found the Quadbar, made in Australia. I’m all for making vehicles and machinery as safe as possible. I suppose the question is should it be a law?

    In horseback riding, I now ride every time with a helmet because I never got on my horse planning to get thrown that day. Glad I do, since the last time I came off, my horse fell under me and I smashed my head into the rocks. I was fine, and so was my horse, but my helmet was scuffed. But there is no law mandating I do so. There is definitely room to debate whether safety equipment should be optional or mandatory.

    It’s true that we all pay the price in higher premiums for other’s actions. The list of actions that can incur injury or poor health are: not working out at all, working out too hard and getting soft tissue injury, marathon running, eating a typical American diet, riding horses, motorcycles, quads, dune buggies and other recreational vehicles, driving cars, mountain biking, skateboard riding, skiing, snow boarding…pretty much all activity and all absence of activity can hurt you.

    We have decided to require seat belts by law for driving cars. The question remains to be answered if safety equipment, both existing and in the pipeline, should be legally required for all activity.

  3. I am avid mountain bike fan and have owned too many motorcycles to list (several dozens).

    I don’t think a 150 IQ and/or a physics degree is required to note in the image of the rider on that ATV, that the center of gravity is exceedingly high, especially relative to the wheelbase and track width. The heavier the rider, and shorter the vehicle WB, the higher is COG, and greater the likelihood of flipping the ATV.

    Generally the things are motorized bombs. Considering what the riders and their ATVs generally do to the best mountain bike trails, they can not be banned soon enough.

    If I said I have sympathy for those injured and/or killed on these things, I don’t necessarily know if that would be true.

  4. Karma’s a b@tch.

    Can’t help but wonder whether the family is now going to sue the bike manufacturer for creating and distributing such an unsafe and hazardous vehicle–hmmm?

  5. As a reminder: The NFL has the most advanced protective equipment available and yet catastrophic injuries occur without fail. This nation has the best constitution on the planet; designed to secure the unalienable rights of the American people. And yet the security of our rights is something we must fight for every day.

    The only thing all of these protections seem to do is give our unchanging human nature a false sense of security. Before you know it we’ll have Canadians down here telling us we’re all actually socialists.

  6. I forgot, as your might imagine, as w/ many snowmobile accidents, alcohol is often an issue. Snowmobile and ATV people like to drive from rural bar to bar. Worked ~10 or so snowmobile death cases. I remember 2 being decapitations. That barbed wire be a mofo. The snowmobile cases I’ve worked had a higher % of alcohol involvement. But, some of the ATV cases did as well. If those snowmobile drivers stay on the trails they usually don’t kill themselves. But, they get a belly full of brandy and they hear the call of the wild and head out into the snow covered fields @ night.

  7. There is no reason to believe he was doing any thing more than advocating for his client.

  8. Well, if he got to be QC, he is at the top of the barrister pile. My understanding is that barristers take the cases brought to them by soliciters. He job is only to argue the case in court. One day he will be for the Crown, the next he will be against it. Only Rumpole refuses to prosecute. He is a hired gun.

  9. These vehicles are not for everyone. I have worked on ~20-30 personal injury/product liability cases involving them. My career goes back to when they were nascent. When they first were sold, I think only Honda made them. They were very unstable and people were dying @ an alarming rate. Honda and subsequent manufacturers have made significant safety improvements. However, you cannot make a vehicle of this type that is totally safe. ATV’s are a good example of how litigation should work, and then how it becomes a cash machine for personal injury attorneys. I worked cases in the early years when these vehicles were unstable and quite dangerous. They were sorta thrown together to compete w/ the booming snowmobile market. As stated previously, significant improvements have been made. But, litigation continues because people are reckless and stupid and there are an ample supply of attorneys to represent them.

  10. That stupid, pretty boy, French Canadian PM of Canada is the new face of socialism. And, that video of him bullying his opponents and elbowing a woman shows how controlling, angry, and fascist they are.

  11. “dysfunctional parasite ridden health care system that has to take care of these idiots

    So let’s outlaw rock climbing and motorcycles.
    Both are high risk with no societal benefit.

    And outlaw rock concerts.
    Bad for the ears.

    And outlaw beer.
    No societal benefit, lots of downside.

    Etc. etc.
    Typical fascist thinking, Isaac.
    All about the need to control others.

  12. “and we are all socialists whether we admit it or not

    Being forced to pay for socialism doesn’t make you a socialist, any more thanbeing raped makes you a rapist.

  13. This goes into the file of ‘those too stupid to protect themselves and sometimes calling it freedom’. Or, it could go into the file of ‘natural selection’.

    When a helmet law is repealed as it is occasionally in various states in the land of the free, stupid or not, deaths and serious head injuries from motorcycle accidents double +. Enough states have instituted helmet laws, repealed them, instituted them, and then repealed them again to provide for some air tight statistics. In Florida a similar doofus lead the vociferous group that had the helmet law repealed and then went on to die of head injuries in a motorcycle accident. Was that Darwin snickering.

    In some ways it is a good thing. These are the same people that advocate arming teachers, etc. However, from the socialist point of view, and we are all socialists whether we admit it or not, we all pay into the same dysfunctional parasite ridden health care system that has to take care of these idiots as they eat up health care resources, long term care resources, and ruin families.

    So, when you go riding on your own ranch with your machine and don’t kill yourself then we all pay. When you, as this Aussie did, take yourself completely out, it is only the family that pays, which is sad. However, when you trundle down the public’s highway and end up in a coma because you are simply too stupid or whatever to wear a helmet, we all pay. Unless of course you follow the example of this fighting Aussie, the guy who defended a Japanese company’s rights to sell unsafe vehicles in your country. Sometimes this all gets so confusing. Let’s stick to the cops beating up minorities.

  14. I’ve been fascinated of late with the statement. What you love will eventually kill you. Looking for truth in that statement and under what circumstances. Now add this story, with new information. The statement may be more true than we consciously realise.

  15. The rest of us should not be required to pay in our health insurance premiums for taking care of people involved in accidents from high risk activities, including use of recreational vehicles and recreational guns. If the majority rejects safety regulations, then the rest of us should not be required to pay the bill.

  16. I guess weekends are made for Michelob. Wait. This is not the weekend. I wonder how many people got killed worldwide in vehicular accidents yesterday.

  17. If he had not been killed by lack of a roll-over bar he might have been killed in a bar fight. What are you gonna do, outlaw bars in Australia? We need to drive tanks– particularly on Tanksgiving Day.
    Roll over Beethoven.

  18. I don’t know why people are opposed to having a roll-bar, it seems like a good idea to me, but they shouldn’t be forced to use one by the government. In this case, he had litigated the issue, so was certainly aware of the risks….

  19. The fact that he died doesn’t mean that the government has the ability to “force” rollbars on off road vehicles. This tragic death only reveals to an informed citizenry that when they “choose” to purchase off road vehicles, they would be wise to “choose” one with a roll bar, or face a heavy bodily penalty, not a government fee.

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