In Minnesota, UTVs, ATVs, and snowmobiles are not only recreational vehicles for entertainment but are widely popular for work on ranches and farms. Landowners rely on these compact and maneuverable vehicles to get to and from areas on their land that may not be accessible by vehicle.
In addition to work uses, UTVs, ATVs, and snowmobiles are popular for recreational purposes by the Duluth population to travel through wilderness trails and off-road terrain and are a common tool used by hunters during hunting season to access more remote areas.
Unfortunately, with the popularity of these recreational type vehicles comes the increase in the likelihood of accidents and injuries. Not all drivers of UTV, ATV, or snowmobiles drive responsibly and not all motorists and landowners are aware of the potential dangers that face riders of these vehicles, which can put the rider and passengers at unnecessary risk of injury or death.
Table of Contents
- After a UTV, ATV, or Snowmobile Accident in Duluth, Contact Nicolet Law Accident & Injury Lawyers
- Recovery for Clients in Off-Highway Vehicle Accidents
- Risk of UTV, ATV, or Snowmobile Accident In Duluth
- Most Common Causes of Accidents That Involve an ATV, UTV, or Snowmobile
- Liability for ATV, UTV, or Snowmobile Accidents
- Serious Injuries That Can Occur In an ATV, UTV, or Snowmobile Accident
- Compensation Available for an ATV, UTV, or Snowmobile Accident in Duluth
- How Nicolet Law Accident & Injury Lawyers Can Help You
After a UTV, ATV, or Snowmobile Accident in Duluth, Contact Nicolet Law Accident & Injury Lawyers
If you or a loved one suffers an injury in a UTV, ATV, or snowmobile accident, you may be eligible for compensation if a party is negligent in the duty of care owed to you under the law.
At Nicolet Law Accident & Injury Lawyers we can evaluate your case and provide you with the necessary information for you to decide on the best course of action for your benefit. Our team of attorneys and staff will work alongside you to calculate your losses for the damages and injuries to you, and to fight against the parties responsible for the ATV, UTV, or snowmobile accident.
Recovery for Clients in Off-Highway Vehicle Accidents
At Nicolet Law Accident & Injury Lawyers we understand the frequency in which injuries occur in ATV, UTV, or snowmobile accidents. Our legal team has the experience and knowledge to advocate for your rights in these often complex and traumatic accidents.
While only past results and no guarantee of success in every case, examples of recovery for clients in an ATV, UTV, or snowmobile accident include:
- $500,000 in compensation for a victim of injuries in a UTV accident
- $475,000 for multiple members of a family that fell victim to a UTV accident
Risk of UTV, ATV, or Snowmobile Accident In Duluth
Many factors can contribute to the risk of injury for riders of ATVs, UTVs, or snowmobiles. When one or more of these potential risks is present, there is a high likelihood that a rider or passenger will sustain an injury while traveling on an off-highway vehicle.
Defective Off-Highway Vehicle
UTVs, ATVs, and snowmobiles have many moving parts that require routine maintenance and inspection to ensure the vehicle is safe for operation. If a part or equipment of an off-highway vehicle is inherently defective, it can cause the vehicle to malfunction and result in an accident or injury to the riders or others in an accident.
Intersections With Roads
In general, ATVs, UTVs, and snowmobiles are intended for operation on trails in Minnesota, although there are some exceptions that allow travel on roadways in the state. Fortunately, Minnesota boasts a widespread trail system for the use of these vehicles in an off-road capacity.
There may be instances, however, in which a trail may lead across a road momentarily or a rider may use the vehicle in proximity to a roadway. These instances create additional hazards for a rider as they may be at risk of involvement in an accident with a negligent driver of a motor vehicle that does not identify the rider or crosses into their right of way unexpectedly.
Most Common Causes of Accidents That Involve an ATV, UTV, or Snowmobile
Negligence of another rider or a motorist is often the cause of many ATV, UTV, or snowmobile accidents in Duluth. While many people may be quick to turn to the rider of the ATV, UTV, or snowmobile as the person at fault for the accident, there are many scenarios in which a rider and/or their passengers are in fact victims of the negligence of another party.
To determine who is likely responsible for an off-highway vehicle accident, an insurer or a court will look at the elements of negligence to establish the apportionment of fault in an accident. In many cases, it will be the actions of one or multiple parties that led to the events of the accident and your injuries.
Elements of negligence to prove fault in an ATV, UTV, or snowmobile accident include:
- Another party, such as an individual or organization, owes you a duty of care
- The duty of care was in some way breached through either action or lack of action by the party
- There were injuries to you
- The breach of the duty of care is the causation of your injuries
Liability for ATV, UTV, or Snowmobile Accidents
One individual or a combination of parties can meet the elements of negligence in a Duluth ATV, UTV, or snowmobile accident. While it is common for a victim of an accident to file a claim or lawsuit against the party primarily responsible, there are situations where it may be possible to file actions for recovery against multiple defendants. Each accident presents a unique set of facts and circumstances that will guide your attorney on the best course of action for your interests.
Liability after an accident may not always be readily apparent to the parties in an accident. You may be under the impression that a particular individual is at fault when there may be more parties that are responsible for the damage to you.
An ATV, UTV, or snowmobile accident attorney will look closely at the evidence of the accident and the parties to discover who could be liable to you for your losses. This is a vital step in the process of a claim or lawsuit, as it will help you determine if any insurance coverage is applicable and the parties that may be responsible for the compensation you may be eligible for.
Parties you might hold liable after an ATV, UTV, or snowmobile accident include:
- The driver of another ATV, UTV, or snowmobile
- The driver of the ATV, UTV, or snowmobile when you are a passenger
- Owner of the ATV, UTV, or snowmobile
- The landowner where the accident took place
- Manufacturer of the off-highway vehicle or equipment
Serious Injuries That Can Occur In an ATV, UTV, or Snowmobile Accident
For riders and passengers of an ATV, UTV, or snowmobile, an accident is often a sudden and violent impact that ejects those aboard into the surrounding environment. The injuries in these types of accidents can be horrific and, in many instances, fatal.
These powerful machines can move at impressive speeds and maneuver through difficult terrain, but they leave those aboard especially vulnerable to severe injuries because of how the riders and passengers travel on these vehicles.
Some of the machines have no seatbelts or protective elements besides what is on the riders and passengers, such as helmets and other protective gear. In high speed or high impact accidents with other vehicles or objects, the injuries are often catastrophic if not deadly.
Injuries in an ATV, UTV, or snowmobile accident can include:
- Head injuries including traumatic brain injuries
- Injuries to the back and neck including spinal cord damage
- Broken bones
- Burns due to explosion or fire from the vehicle
- Internal injuries to organs
Compensation Available for an ATV, UTV, or Snowmobile Accident in Duluth
If you suffer injuries in an ATV, UTV, or snowmobile accident, it may overwhelm you to think about the losses and costs that will arise in the aftermath of the accident. Serious injuries can require extensive medical treatment with hospitalization, transport by emergency services, and rehabilitation.
The process of recovery will cause most victims to miss work and lose wages. Family caretakers may also need to adjust their daily routines and responsibilities and lose income as they care for their loved one as they heal.
In situations where a victim suffers catastrophic injuries, their way of life will likely forever change. They may no longer be able to care or provide for themselves. Those that suffer permanent disability will be unable to function as they did before the accident, which can limit their work opportunities and the ability to meet the needs and demands of their prior careers.
For victims unable to support themselves financially, they will have to rely on support from their system of friends and family to help them through this difficult time.
When an ATV, UTV, or snowmobile accident occurs due to the negligence of another party, the law allows a victim to pursue compensation for their losses against the at-fault party or parties. The compensation that may be available to you after an off-highway vehicle accident will depend on your injuries and the impacts of those injuries on your life.
Damages that can be available in an injury claim or lawsuit due to an ATV, UTV, or snowmobile accident:
- Medical expenses
- Loss of income
- Future medical costs or income impacts
- Pain and suffering
- Damage to personal property
- Loss of quality of life
- Wrongful death of a loved one
- Loss of companionship
How Does the Law Differentiate Between an ATV, UTV, and Snowmobile?
ATVs, UTVs, and snowmobiles are terms used to describe different types of recreational type off-road vehicles. While we may use the names interchangeably, some differences relate to their capabilities, uses, and the laws that riders and owners of these vehicles must follow for registration and operation in Minnesota.
ATV. An all-terrain vehicle, most commonly referred to as an ATV, is a ride-on vehicle with either three or four wheels. On these vehicles, a rider must sit atop the ATV, using the handlebars for steering. The most common uses of these vehicles are for recreation, although there are some work-related uses for farmers and landowners, as the vehicles are mostly for traveling along rough and rugged terrain with ease.
Distinctions in Minnesota law: The laws of Minnesota distinguish primarily where a class 1 ATV may be in operation depending on the driver's age. Minnesota law allows drivers younger than 10 years old to operate these vehicles, but with significant restrictions on how and where a young rider may use them.
UTV. A utility terrain vehicle, most commonly referred to as a UTV, is built for all-terrain use with four wheels and a side-by-side (or SxS) seating configuration for a driver and one or more passengers. These vehicles are popular in work settings due to their size, power, hauling, and carrying capabilities.
Unlike an ATV that has only room for one rider and in some cases one additional passenger, UTVs can carry multiple people at once as well as equipment, materials, and cargo. The power and speed of side-by-sides can result in terrible injuries.
Distinctions in the laws of Minnesota: Minnesota does not recognize this off-highway vehicle as a Utility Terrain Vehicle but rather uses the term class 2 ATV to describe some UTVs. There appears to be some overlap between the distinctions made by Minnesota statute as to what constitutes a class 2 ATV or another type of off-highway vehicle and UTVs.
Beyond vehicle configuration and capabilities, Minnesota law also considers the uses of the vehicle, such as for logging, farming, or mining to classify it under their laws. Under Minnesota law, UTVs have far more stringent rules due to their ability to be on or near the roadways in certain areas.
Snowmobile. A snowmobile has similarities to an ATV but is often a classification on its own. This type of off-road vehicle is for travel only on ice and snow and allows for use by just one rider and one additional passenger if the vehicle allows it. The rider and passenger sit on top of the snowmobile similarly to an ATV. Unlike an ATV and UTV that use wheels to move the vehicle, snowmobiles use skis, tracks, or a combination to travel along icy and snowy terrain.
Distinctions in the laws of Minnesota: Minnesota classifies snowmobiles in their own category with separate laws and regulations that apply to their operation. Snowmobiles in the winter months have access to thousands of miles of trails throughout the state of Minnesota. Most of these snowmobile trails are not accessible to other off-highway vehicles such as ATVs and UTVs.
What Is the Risk of an ATV/UTV/Snowmobile Accident in Duluth and Surrounding Areas?
Each year over 30 people will lose their life in an ATV, UTV, or snowmobile accident within Minnesota. Unfortunately, the victims' ages range from young riders under 10 years old to young adults, adults, and elderly riders. Many more each year who survive these accidents will suffer serious, life-changing injuries. Minnesota is home to a large number of ATV, UTV, or snowmobile owners. In fact, most households within the state can own one or multiple of these vehicles.
The frequency of accidents by the type of recreational vehicle will depend on the season. Winter months are when snowmobile accidents will take place, while summer and spring months are when many of the UTV and ATV accidents are common in Minnesota.
If one of these accidents hurt you or a loved one, contact Nicolet Law Accident & Injury Lawyers today.
What Are the Most Common Causes of ATV/UTV/Snowmobile Accidents?
ATV, UTV, or snowmobile accidents often happen because of negligence. Each accident takes place under unique circumstances and many scenarios can kill or injure a rider or bystander in an ATV, UTV, or snowmobile accident. Often, insurance companies or law enforcement may be quick to place initial blame on a rider, but further evaluation of the evidence may indicate that another rider is to blame or another party may have a hand in the cause of an accident and injuries to a victim.
Causes of ATV, UTV, or Snowmobile Accidents include:
- Rider inexperience - There are no minimum age requirements to ride a class 1 ATV in Minnesota and snowmobile riders can be as young as 11 years old. This can lead to many young riders operating these dangerous machines with little to no experience. Many older riders can also lack the experience to successfully and safely navigate these powerful vehicles, especially on difficult terrain or when crossing roads.
- Lack of guidance and/or supervision - Whether it is a parent, ATV, UTV, or snowmobile owner, or a rental company, the person who allows a rider to operate a vehicle must make certain the individual knows how to drive it and understands how to keep themselves and others safe.
- Operating on paved surfaces - ATV, UTV, and snowmobiles must operate primarily on terrain other than paved roads. Pavement can create slick and dangerous conditions, especially in inclement weather that can cause a rider to lose traction and control of the vehicle.
- Dangerous conditions on property - Landowners that allow ATV, UTV, or snowmobile riders on their property or trails must ensure that all hazards have signs or other warnings of their presence or the riders are on notice of potential dangers on the property.
- Riders under the influence - Unfortunately, many ATV, UTV, and snowmobile accidents are alcohol-related. In fact, many fatality reports include some association with alcohol of either the victim or other parties to an accident.
- Defective vehicles, equipment, or parts - ATVs, UTVs, and snowmobiles can cause accidents parts or the vehicles themselves are defective and dangerous. In these cases, a manufacturer may bear liability for an accident.
- Speeding and reckless riding - One negligent rider can cause devastation to other riders nearby. ATVs, UTVs, and snowmobiles can travel at high speed. The speed in combination with difficult and unpredictable terrain on trails or slick pavements on roadways can cause a driver to lose control and careen into other vehicles in their vicinity.
Are the Injuries in Most ATV/UTV/Snowmobile Accidents Severe?
The injuries that occur in ATV, UTV, or snowmobile accidents can prove fatal. Riders and passengers of these vehicles must rely on safety equipment such as helmets to offer protection in accidents.
ATVs and snowmobiles in particular have no surrounding frame or structure that offer protection to riders and passengers or safety features such as seatbelts. As a result, accidents with ATV and snowmobiles often end with the ejection of the riders. This can end in catastrophic to fatal injuries such as TBIs and spinal cord damage. While UTVs offer some more protection to riders and passengers, injuries can still be serious, especially in high-speed accidents or in circumstances where the vehicle rolls over.
Common injuries in an ATV, UTV, or snowmobile accident include:
- Head injuries
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Spinal cord injuries
- Neck and back injuries
- Internal injuries
- Broken bones
- Crush injuries
If an accident injured you, contact Nicolet Law Accident & Injury Lawyers today.
Who Can Be Liable for an ATV, UTV, or Snowmobile Accident?
More often than not, people will quickly assume that the fault in an ATV, UTV, or snowmobile accident lies with the rider. However, these accidents can often involve multiple vehicles and in many cases, it is negligence on the part of one party that leads to the accident and injuries to victims that can include other riders, passengers, bystanders, or motor vehicle occupants.
Beyond the direct actions that can lead to an unfortunate accident, other contributing factors and potential parties could bear liability for injuries in an ATV, UTV, or snowmobile accident.
Unlike motor vehicle drivers that often must carry insurance for their vehicles and potential accidents, ATV, UTV, or snowmobile owners do not have such requirements for these types of off-highway vehicles. Although many riders and owners choose to carry insurance, the lack of a mandate for insurance coverage for these vehicles can make the recovery of losses after an accident more difficult.
In many cases, a victim will need to seek compensation from the at-fault party directly if insurance coverage is not available. Contact Nicolet Law Accident & Injury Lawyers to discuss your legal options after an accident.
Parties that can be liable after an ATV, UTV, or snowmobile accident include:
- The rider of the vehicle - An off-highway vehicle rider that operates their vehicle recklessly and endangers others is likely negligent and can be responsible for the injuries and damages they cause to victims of an accident.
- The vehicle owner - Often, ATV, UTV, or snowmobile owners will allow others, including minors and riders with little experience, to operate their vehicle. The owners must supervise the use of their vehicles properly and provide the necessary guidance and instructions to those they allow to use their ATV, UTV, or snowmobile.
- Landowner - A property owner must maintain and inspect their property for dangers and hazards that may pose a risk to riders that they allow to travel on their land. Any accident that takes place because of the condition of the land or a danger hidden to riders can make the property owner liable for failing to keep guests of their property safe.
- Manufacturer of the vehicle, parts, or safety equipment - If an accident happens because of a defect or malfunction of the recreational vehicle or you suffer more severe injuries because of the failure of safety equipment, you may seek compensation from the company or manufacturer of the products that cause the damage to you or the accident.
What Damages Could You Seek For Injuries You Suffer in an ATV, UTV, or Snowmobile Accident?
The aftermath of many ATV, UTV, or snowmobile accidents is more often than not tragic and costly. The medical costs for victims of these accidents can be astronomical and for severe injuries range into six figures. This is on top of the economic losses that will result from the loss of work and future productivity of the individual.
Many victims that survive these accidents and suffer serious injuries will develop disabilities that can affect their life in the long term, which will cause not only economic loss but emotional and mental suffering as a result of the extent of the injuries and the limitations that follow.
Compensation for damages in an ATV, UTV, or snowmobile accident can include:
- Medical expenses for current and future costs
- Loss of income now and in the future
- Pain and suffering
- Damage to your property
- Compensation for the wrongful death of a loved one
If you or a loved one suffered an injury in an ATV, UTV, or snowmobile accident that you believe another party caused, you may seek compensation for your damages. Contact a Duluth ATV, UTV, and snowmobile accident attorney today at (218) 217-0698 at Nicolet Law Accident & Injury Lawyers to discuss your case and legal options.
How Nicolet Law Accident & Injury Lawyers Can Help You
Insurance companies can quickly blame an ATV, UTV, or snowmobile accident on a rider to diminish their potential liability. In many instances, a rider or passenger of an ATV, UTV, or snowmobile may have a valid legal basis to recover their losses due to another's negligence.
It can be difficult, if not near impossible, to successfully fight an insurance company for the maximum compensation you deserve without the assistance of an attorney. Insurers and their representatives work every day to find nuances and discrepancies that can keep you from getting the compensation you may be eligible for. In some instances, they may deny your claim or make low settlement offers well below what you need to recover.
To go forward without an attorney can cause complications and unnecessary delays in your case. In Minnesota, the statute of limitations restricts the time you have to initiate legal action against a defendant for injuries in an ATV, UTV, or snowmobile accident. But don’t use that time to procrastinate—waiting can turn good cases into bad ones. Call us today.
An ATV, UTV, or snowmobile accident attorney can help you with your case by:
- Evaluating your case
- Calculating your damages and losses
- Gathering evidence and testimony
- Negotiating a settlement that works for you
- Protecting your rights
- Filing a lawsuit on your behalf if it becomes necessary
If you suffer an injury in an ATV, UTV, or snowmobile accident in Duluth, contact Nicolet Law Accident & Injury Lawyers at (218) 217-0698 for a free evaluation of your case and to discuss your legal options.