In our last blog, we wrote about some of the risks involved with snowmobiling. Injuries and damages when snowmobiling are governed by the general rules of negligence law, which means that you can only recover from another person for injury or property damage that was caused by their negligence (legal fault). Conversely, others cannot recover their injury or property damage from you, unless it was caused by your negligence. Negligence in this connotation is defined as a failure to use “reasonable care” for the safety of others. Whether the driving conduct was “reasonable” will be determined by all of the facts and circumstances surrounding the accident, however two of the greatest factors that may have a bearing on this issue include the use of alcohol and excessive speed.
So, how can you protect yourself against some of these risks? One method is to obtain the proper insurance coverage for your snowmobile. Many people think they are automatically covered under their homeowners or auto insurance. Although, certain coverages might be extended in certain situations (for example if you were struck by a motor vehicle while on your snowmobile), in most instances, there will not be coverage for snowmobile related incidents under most homeowners or auto policies. Furthermore, Minnesota does not require that you carry insurance on your snowmobile, however your failure to do so, may leave you unprotected and exposed if you are
involved in a snowmobile accident.
Basically, there are two main categories of snowmobile coverage: (1) coverage to protect you and your snowmobile (collision, comprehensive and uninsured/underinsured); and (2) coverage to protect you from claims that you negligently caused damage or injury to others (liability). You should speak with your insurance agent to get the specifics regarding the type and cost of each specific coverage. Generally however, liability insurance will protect you against any claims of damage or injury caused to others by your negligent operation of a snowmobile. This would include the cost of defending you if you are sued. Without liability insurance, you may be personally liable for damages you cause, including the cost of your defense in court.
Uninsured/underinsured coverage is meant to protect you should you be injured as the result of the negligence of someone who either: (1) does not have liability insurance; or (2) does not have enough liability coverage to cover all of your damages. If you or anyone you know has been in an accident involving a snowmobile and have questions regarding your legal rights, call our office today for a free consultation.