Every winter, people all over the northern United States enjoy a variety of winter activities. These often include the use of snowmobiles, which allows them to traverse snow-covered terrain with ease. However, in the event of an accident, you need to understand what can result, from a legal perspective. Read on to understand more about liability for snowmobile accidents.
A Guide To Liability For Snowmobile Accidents
While the specific statutes might differ from one state to another, generally speaking, snowmobiles are subject to some form of regulation. For instance, those operating a snowmobile in the state of New Jersey do not need a license or permit, but the vehicle must be registered, and the operator shouldn’t be younger than 14 years of age.
In addition, snowmobiles may not be driven along public highways; drivers must wear a helmet while operating them, and if driving the vehicle over water that is covered in ice, both the driver and their passenger should wear a PFD (Personal Flotation Device) which has received approval from the Coast Guard. Those who fail to comply may be subject to fines.
Are Snowmobiles Dangerous?
When used responsibly, snowmobiles are perfectly safe. Accidents usually result from drivers who don’t use common sense or adhere to basic rules. However, when driven irresponsibly, disaster can ensue. Despite its size, snowmobiles are vulnerable to flipping over and can easily slam into other vehicles or stationary objects. Snowmobiles can weigh upwards of 400 pounds and travel at great speed, meaning the resulting damage from a collision can be serious, potentially fatal. Some accidents are also a result of malfunctions, which can be avoided by getting the snowmobile inspected, and repaired, at least once a year by a trusted mechanic. This ensures the machine is always in good condition.
Unlike automobile collisions, the majority of snowmobile accidents involve a single vehicle. This creates a situation where liability might be less obvious, compared to impacts involving multiple vehicles or parties. At the same time, there are scenarios where a single vehicle accident might not be the fault of the driver. A classic example of this would be manufacturing defects.
Advice for Passengers
Most snowmobiles are designed to carry a maximum of two people, and if you were the passenger in an accident, the driver might be liable. While this is can be a sensitive situation, especially if the driver is a loved one or a friend, serious injuries require considerable medical care, which can come at a steep cost. As such, passengers will have to think seriously about their recovery, damages, and compensation.
Does Insurance Cover Snowmobile Collisions?
Those with insurance will need to check their policy to see if they are covered for snowmobile accidents. However, it must be noted that insurance carriers are infamous for prioritizing their profits, and are known to underpay for claims, so even if you receive compensation from them, there’s a high chance it won’t be enough to cover your hospital bills.
The primary question to ask, regarding snowmobile liability, was whether the accident occurred due to poor maintenance or manufacturing defects. If you rented it from a company that failed to adhere to proper maintenance guidelines, or there was a manufacturing defect that caused the accident, you might have a strong case.