A boy lives in a northern state where three to four feet of snow typically blankets the ground throughout the winter, creating excellent conditions for snowmobiling. The boy is an experienced snowmobiler and a member of a club that maintains local snowmobile trails by clearing them of rocks, stumps, and fallen tree limbs that could cause an accident when buried under the snow. In January, the boy received a snowmobile as a present on his 12th birthday. The following Sunday, the boy took his friend, age 10, out on the boy’s new snowmobile, which was capable of speeds up to 60 miles per hour. The friend had never been snowmobiling before.
The boy and his friend went snowmobiling on a designated and marked snowmobile trail that follows the perimeter of a rocky, forested state park near the friend’s home. The trail adjoins forested property owned by a private landowner. Neither the boy nor his friend had previously used this trail.
The landowner’s property is crossed by a private logging trail that intersects the snowmobile trail. The logging trail is not marked or maintained for snowmobiling, and access to it is blocked by a chain approximately 30 inches above ground level on which a “No Trespassing” sign is displayed. However, on the day in question, both the chain and the sign were covered by snow.
On impulse, the friend, who was driving the snowmobile, turned the snowmobile off the designated snowmobile trail and onto the logging trail. The snowmobile immediately struck the submerged chain and crashed. Both the boy and the friend were thrown from the snowmobile and injured. As a result of the accident, the snowmobile was inoperable.
About an hour after the accident, a woman saw the boy and his friend as she was snowmobiling on the snowmobile trail. After the woman returned to her car, she called 911, reported the accident and its location, and then went home. Emergency personnel did not reach the boy and his friend for two hours after the woman’s departure. No one other than the woman passed the accident site before emergency personnel arrived.
As a result of the accident, the boy suffered several broken bones and also suffered injuries from frostbite. These frostbite injuries could have been avoided had the boy been rescued earlier.
The boy has brought a tort action against the friend, the landowner, and the woman.
- 1. Could a jury properly find the friend liable to the boy for his injuries? Explain.
2. Could a jury properly find the landowner liable to the boy for his injuries? Explain.
3. Could a jury properly find the woman liable to the boy for his injuries? Explain.