SW Legal studies in Business

Rules of the Road the Same for Snowmobiles as for Automobiles
Description The Wyoming high court held that in a head on collision of snowmobiles, the rules of the road apply. It is for the jury to review the evidence to determine if the parties were using the care of a reasonable person under the circumstance and apportion liability accordingly.
Topic Torts
Key Words Negligence; Rules of the Road; Sudden Emergency Doctrine; Snowmobiles
C A S E   S U M M A R Y
Facts Two parties of snowmobiles, the Randall party and the Roberts party, were headed at each other on a Forest Service road in Wyoming. Both were going fast; the lead machines crashed into each other, killing Randall and leaving Roberts seriously injured. The parties sued each other for negligence. Testimony from both parties disputed who was where on the road when the head-on collision occurred. The jury found Roberts to be 74 percent at fault and Randall 26 percent at fault. Roberts appealed.

Affirmed. The rules of the road apply to snowmobiles operated on forest service roads during the winter when they are only used for snowmobiles. As such, each party had to be on its side of the road and it was for the jury to evaluate the evidence presented to determine who violated the rules. Roberts contended that the sudden emergency doctrine should apply in this case. It could relieve him of fault. An emergency situation, such as snowmobiles headed for each other, is a circumstance to be considered by the finder of fact in determining whether a party has acted negligently under the circumstances. The jury made its evaluation, which will stand.

Citation Roberts v. Estate of Randall, 51 P.3d 204 (Sup. Ct., Wyo., 2002)

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