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Winter in Washtenaw County, Michigan, sees many residents take out their snowmobiles to enjoy the region’s natural beauty. But riders may be surprised to find out that their auto insurance doesn’t cover injuries suffered while snowmobiling, even on the road. Snowmobile accidents happen every year in and around Ann Arbor.
Snowmobiles are considered “off-road vehicles” and are explicitly excluded from coverage under the Michigan No-Fault Act. That means that if your snowmobile flips and you break a bone, you won’t be able to file a no-fault claim for the damages. These kinds of snowmobile accidents can be deadly.
That is true even if you are one of the many rural residents who use snowmobiles to cross snowy country roads. Even if used on a highway (or any other road), an ORV is not considered a vehicle for the purposes of the no-fault act.
That is not to say that snowmobilers will have to pay those expenses out of pocket. Health insurance and off-road insurance are available for those who love adventure. However, these are separate insurance policies which will likely offer less protection than an auto no-fault policy. In particular, a recreational vehicle policy will likely have a cap on the money that can be paid, no matter how serious the accident. They may also have restrictions on the season, geographical location, or activities that will be covered. On the other hand, health insurance policies will sometimes have a sizeable deductible before they kick in to pay for your injuries. They also will not cover any damages other than your physical and mental health needs. Either way, your insurance options could fall short.
If you are injured because of someone else’s operation of a snowmobile, or a professional snowmobile course’s poor maintenance of its facilities, you may be entitled to sue to fill that gap. The lawsuit will require you to demonstrate fault (which no-fault law does not). That means that if you were intoxicated or otherwise unsafe while riding, your recovery could still fall short. However, if you are able to prove that you were injured because of someone else’s negligence, you may be able to collect pain, suffering, disability, and other non-economic damages that are not available under no-fault law.
The only time a snowmobile rider may be entitled to no-fault benefits is when a vehicle strike her ORV. Remember, if at least one motor vehicle is involved in the accident, it can be covered under the No-Fault Act. In these cases, a snowmobile driver is treated the same as a pedestrian or bicyclist. He can file a claim with his no-fault policy if he or a family member has one, or with the insurance provider covering the motor vehicle if he doesn’t.
Snowmobile accidents can create a tricky tangle of claims – from health insurance providers, recreational vehicle policies, and sometimes no-fault benefits. Don’t try to untangle it all on your own. The personal injury attorneys at Christensen Law can help you determine which policies apply and how they work together to get your damages covered.