With over 2,500 miles of trails available in Illinois for snowmobiling, it is no wonder that it is such a popular winter sport our state. For those who adhere to safety precautions and abide by the state regulations, it can be an exhilarating way to enjoy the outdoors in the cold winter months. However, there are also those who drive dangerously that can put others and themselves at risk of injury as well as defects on these vehicles that can cause harm. When a fun day snowmobile riding ends up with a rider being seriously injured or even killed due to someone’s negligence, the negligent party may be liable for the financial and personal toll that the victim and their families will face.Illinois Snowmobile Laws
For the 33,750 snowmobiles that were registered in Illinois in 2012-2013, there are specific laws that regulate snowmobile riding, including restrictions on where they can be driven, age of drivers and insurance coverage. These laws are meant to protect both riders and those who come in contact with those on snowmobiles from danger and financial risk. Some of the current regulations in Illinois include:
- Age limits. No one under the age of 10 years of age may operate a regulation snowmobile. Those between 10-15 years of age must have a parent or guardian of at least 16 years old accompanying them on the snowmobile.
- Insurance. Liability insurance is required for snowmobilers that are riding on marked trails other than their own personal property or on personal property where the property owner has given them permission to ride.
- Highways. In general, highways or roadways are not permissible for snowmobile riding. Under specific circumstances they can be crossed directly or used to cross a bridge or culvert, but only by drivers that have a valid drivers license or safety certificate.
There is a risk involved whenever someone decides to participate in a sport or activity like snowmobiling. Snowmobiles can weigh over 600 pounds and go speeds of over 90 MPH, making them dangerous when not driven safely. Riding this type of sport vehicle is called an inherent risk and in most cases when a person is injured while riding due to their own errors or uncontrollable events, the liability for their injuries is on the rider. However, in some cases another rider or driver of a motor vehicle may cause an accident through negligence and in those instances, the injured rider may be eligible to receive compensation for their injuries. These include:
- Collisions. If another snowmobile rider is reckless and hits another snowmobile/rider, they may be liable for injuries.
- Motor vehicles. Snowmobile drivers that are following the state regulations yet are hit and injured by a motor vehicle due to the motorist’s negligence, they may be able to receive compensation for their injuries.
- Product liability. Snowmobiles can have manufacturer defects that can cause an injury accident. If a person is injured due to a defect in their snowmobile or improper maintenance on a rented snowmobile, there may be a case for liability for their injuries.
Approximately 200 people are killed and another 14,000 are injured every year in snowmobile accidents. While many of these may fall under inherent risk, others are caused by negligence. When this is the case, the injured victim or their family will need the counsel of an experienced Illinois snowmobile accident attorney to determine whether they can receive compensation to cover medical bills, lost wages and other expenses from the negligent party.Get legal help for your snowmobile accident injuries
Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers represents injured snowmobile drivers, passengers and bystanders. Our attorneys continue to prosecute accidents involving snowmobiles in Illinois and throughout the Midwest. Many of these accidents are covered under insurance policies that provide coverage for these injuries and medical expenses. Like all of our personal injury cases, we handle Illinois and Wisconsin snowmobile accidents on a contingency fee basis where we only charge a legal fee if there is a recovery for you.