Snowmobiling is an exciting winter sport, and one of the few non-athletes can enjoy safely at high speeds. In best-case scenarios, the biggest risk with a snowmobile is plowing into a big pile of snow. But in worse-case scenarios, they can become deadly. Anything moving at high speeds can cause injury or death if something goes wrong. Whether that something was a mechanical malfunction, an obstacle in your path, or the reckless actions of a driver.
If you have been injured in a snowmobile accident, your first priority will always be recovery. And your second priority is liability to help you cover the costs of that recovery. While some snowmobile accidents are just that, accidents of the person driving the vehicle. But often, the fault is in someone else’s hands instead. When this happens, it is their responsibility to help you cover medical costs, time in recovery, and even wages lost due to the injury.
Today, we’re here to explain who can and might be responsible legally for your snowmobile accident.
The Driver or Another Driver
The first place the law tends to lay liability is with the drivers. Any kind of reckless driving or driving against venue policy can put someone at risk. When another driver is reckless with their driving choices, they can cause injuries to both fellow drivers and their passengers. Reckless driving is the leading cause of snowmobile injuries and, thankfully, the results are often a few scuffs that friends laugh off together. But sometimes the results are severe. Sometimes they are fatal.
In other situations, passengers are injured by the choices of their own drivers. And in very rare cases, reckless passenger decisions can put both themselves and their drivers at risk. The liability of drivers and passengers can only be determined by looking into exactly what happened when the accident occurred. Of course, there are other causes for accidents as well, having to do with more mechanical or situational dangers.
The Snowmobile Rental Service
If you rented your snowmobile, then they are partially responsible for it’s performance and for your understanding of how to use the machines. Many snowmobile rental services require you to sign a waiver as part of the rental process. This waiver, however, is only to prevent you from suing the rental company if reckless behavior causes injury or damage. ‘Risk of Activity’ is often used in these waivers, but it does not protect them from liability if the rental company failed in their explicit duties.
However, if your snowmobile does not perform as you should be able to expect from a commercial business renting snowmobiles to vacationers, then they are legally at fault.
Recreational Venue Owners
If you are riding in a managed area with established paths, fields, or trails for snowmobilers then you have fair reason to believe that the trails will be safe and free of obstacles.
If your snowmobile injury or tragedy was caused by an obstacle in the path or a failure of path design in a controlled recreational venue, then the venue itself may be liable for the results of the accident.
The Maintenance Mechanic
Snowmobile performance on the trails is often put into the hands of a mechanic, a team of mechanics, or a service that provides maintenance for recreational vehicles. Whoever is responsible for taking care of the snowmobiles is also responsible for their performance when you are riding them as a customer.
Just as the rental service might be liable if they give you a faulty snowmobile, a mechanic or maintenance service may be the ones liable for providing an unreliable vehicle.
The Snowmobile Manufacturers
Finally, in rare cases, liability has been found with the snowmobile manufacturers themselves. Snowmobiles are potentially risky vehicles which means that they must be in top quality for sale.
Manufacturing flaws can be one-off errors in the production line or cause to recall an entire line or production batch of vehicles. If a manufacturer releases a snowmobile with a flaw that eventually causes injury or worse, they can be held liable. And if you are not the first to seek damages for a manufacturing error, you may even save lives by causing a needed safety recall.
Have you been injured in a snowmobile accident, or has someone you know been harmed in a similar tragedy? If so, you are not alone, and you may not need to take on the costs of recovery on your own. If another party is liable for your injuries or the injuries of your friend, we are here to help. For more information about snowmobile liability or to consult on the unique details of your case, contact us today.