Springtime means it's time for "mudding" in many parts of the country. But when mudding-related injuries and property damage occur, who gets stuck with the bill?
Mudding is basically off-road driving through wet meadows, fields, streams, and other muddy areas. It's often characterized by spinning tires and throwing off mud, as well as tearing up grass and other vegetation.
While some may find mudding a good way to blow off steam, it can also be dangerous and lead to lawsuits. So who may be held liable for mudding damages or injuries? Generally speaking, look to the following parties:
The property owner. Property owners who attract mudders may themselves be liable for any injuries or accidents. A property owner is basically responsible for ensuring that their premises are safe for guests. This can include warning guests of obvious dangers and cleaning hazards. And if the property is considered an attractive nuisance, the property owner may even be responsible for injuries to certain uninvited guests.
The negligent driver. A car accident -- whether on a road or in the mud -- is generally treated the same. Insurance companies will look to the careless or negligent driver as the responsible party. In a mudding accident, this can include all the drivers involved, as taking your vehicle off-road in the first place may be considered a careless act in and of itself.
The person(s) who caused the damage. Unless you own acres of land, you are likely going mudding on someone else's property, or even government property. Especially if you're on federal land, you may be fined for mudding and subject to liability for any damage you cause. Damage can include things like disturbing the wildlife, ruining fields, and causing injury to any bystanders or animals.
Of course these aren't the only parties who may potentially be held liable for a mudding accident. For example, a vehicle manufacturer may be liable if a product defect caused the crash. You may want to consult an experienced personal injury lawyer to discuss the best way to get compensation in your particular case.
ETX couple stuck in Lake Tyler after going 'mudding' (East Texas' KLTV)