Snowmobiles or “snow sleds” are off-road vehicles that can accelerate at an incredibly fast rate and capable of reaching speeds between 100mph and 200 mph. As a recreational sport involving high speed, snowmobiling can be dangerous. In fact, many snowmobile accidents happen every year, sometimes resulting in serious injury or death.
Many factors can contribute to snowmobile crashes. Sometimes, the accident can be the result of operator negligence. A negligent driver can injure themselves, a passenger, the operator of another snowmobile, or even a bystander. Whether or not an injured party is able to recover damages for their injuries will depend on all the circumstances involved, including the extent to which the party claiming damages also acted in a negligent manner. This analysis can become fairly complex, such as where two snowmobilers collide on an open field. Clearly, some degree of negligence is involved, but who specifically was negligent, and to what extent, requires significant inquiry.
Claims can also arise out of improperly maintained trails. Where a trail is openly held out to the public for use as a snowmobile trail, the property owner has a duty to maintain the trail in a reasonably safe manner. Failure to do so may result in liability in the event of an injury. For instance, if the landowner fails to repair a trail bridge that fails while someone is riding across it, the landowner may be found negligent.
Moreover, if a property owner is aware of the passage of snowmobiles over his or her property and intentionally injures one of the trespassers, or if the snowmobiler is injured due to the property owners failure to use ordinary care to prevent injury to the trespasser arising from active negligence—such as installing a non-visible wire fence across a regularly trespassed trail—that owner can be liable for injuries caused to riders, despite their status as trespasser.
Injuries resulting from a defect with the snowmobile itself also give rise to legal claims. This type of action is deemed a products liability claim, and can arise either from a defect in the design of the snowmobile or from an error in the actual manufacture of the machine. These types of claims typically require expert opinions and testimony, increasing the cost of litigation.
In sum, obtaining legal counsel is extremely helpful in pursuing a claim arising out of a snowmobile injury. If you or a loved one has been injured or died as a result of a snowmobile accident, contact the experienced lawyers at Neumann Law Group for a free consultation.