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Snowmobile Accidents: Winter’s Wild Ride Gone Wrong

by | Jul 10, 2024 | Personal Injury

Imagine the exhilarating feeling of racing through snow on a snowmobile, the wind whipping past you as you reach speeds of up to 50 km/h. It’s a thrilling experience that many enjoy during the winter months. But when things go wrong, and accidents occur, it can lead to serious consequences.

In this blog, we’ll delve into the basics of snowmobile accidents, outlining what they require and what you should consider if you find yourself in such a situation.

What is a Snowmobile?

A snowmobile, also known as a sled or snow machine, is a motorized vehicle designed for travel on snow and ice. It typically features skis at the front for steering and a track at the rear for propulsion.

Snowmobiles are commonly used for recreational purposes, such as winter sports and exploring snowy terrain, but they are also utilized for transportation in areas with heavy snowfall or inaccessible by other vehicles. Snowmobiles are a winter sport enjoyed by over 2 million individuals across America.

However, with modern snowmobiles weighing over 600 pounds and capable of reaching speeds exceeding 90 miles per hour, accidents have become a concern.

Statistics on Snowmobile Accidents

How many snowmobile deaths per year? According to PubMed, each year, snowmobile accidents result in approximately 200 fatalities and 14,000 injuries. Leading causes include excessive speed, alcohol consumption, operator inexperience, and poor decision-making.

Injuries, ranging from extremity fractures to multisystem trauma, affect both children and adults. Head injuries, akin to those in motor vehicle accidents, are the primary cause of fatalities.

Addressing this issue requires a concerted effort focused on education and legislation to reduce the snowmobile injury and snowmobile accident death rates.

According to 9&10 News, roughly 10-15% of all crashes involve alcohol and drugs, a percentage that rises to around 30% for fatalities. In the 2021-22 season, seven out of the 13 fatalities were either confirmed or suspected to be linked to drugs and/or alcohol.

Injuries from a Snowmobile Accident

Snowmobiling accidents can result in a wide range of injuries, varying in severity depending on factors such as the speed of the snowmobile, the terrain, the use of safety gear, and the presence of other vehicles or obstacles.

Some common injuries include:

Every year, snowmobile accidents result in fatalities and severe injuries. While some of these events are avoidable, many of them are not.

Those injured in a snowmobile accident should seek medical assistance as soon as possible, even if the injuries appear to be minor. Some injuries, such as internal bleeding or concussion, may not be immediately apparent but can have serious consequences if left untreated.

Causes of Snowmobile Accidents

Snowmobile accidents can happen on various types of paths, including roadways, highways, and both public and private trails. Numerous factors can contribute to these accidents, including:

  • Speeding

Excessive speed is a major factor in snowmobile crashes across the country. Traveling at high speeds increases the risk of losing control and colliding with obstacles or other vehicles. High-speed crashes can eject riders from their snowmobiles, leading to serious injuries or fatalities.

  • Intoxication

Operating a snowmobile under the influence of alcohol or drugs impairs judgment and reaction time, significantly increasing the risk of accidents. The effects of alcohol are exacerbated in cold weather, as they can intensify the effects of intoxication. Operating a snowmobile under the influence not only endangers the rider but also poses a threat to others.

  • Lack of safety gear

Failure to wear appropriate safety gear, such as helmets, goggles, and protective clothing, increases the risk of injury in the event of a crash.

  • Inexperienced drivers

Inexperienced snowmobilers face increased accident risks due to their lack of experience. Driving through unfamiliar terrain, managing the sled, and avoiding obstacles demand skill and expertise.

On February 24, 2024, a tragic snowmobile accident claimed the life of Krista Bebezas, a 48-year-old woman from Massachusetts, in New Hampshire. Officials attributed the crash to “operator inexperience.” Bebezas collided with a tree, resulting in severe injuries. Despite efforts from emergency responders Bebezas was pronounced dead.

  • Improper use of the snowmobile

Improper use of a snowmobile refers to any behavior or action that deviates from safe and responsible operation guidelines. Performing reckless driving, such as sharp turns at high speeds or attempting dangerous stunts, puts both the rider and others at risk of injury or collision.

Failing to properly maintain the snowmobile, including neglecting routine inspections, repairs, and servicing, can lead to mechanical failures and accidents.

Ken Block snowmobile accident 2023

On January 2, 2023, Ken Block, a Park City resident known for his professional rally driving career and co-founding DC Shoes, passed away at the age of 55 due to a snowmobile accident in the Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest.

The Wasatch County Sheriff’s Office reported that Block was riding a snowmobile in the Mill Hollow area when it overturned on a steep slope, fatally injuring him. Despite initially being with a group, he was alone at the time of the accident.

Block was pronounced dead at the scene, and the official cause of death will be determined by the State Medical Examiner’s Office.

What to Do After a Snowmobile Accident?

If you’re involved in a snowmobile accident, it’s essential to take the following steps:

Seek medical attention: Your health and safety should always be the top priority. Even if you don’t think you’re seriously injured, it’s crucial to undergo a medical evaluation as soon as possible.

Document the scene: Document the accident scene by taking photos or videos. Note any relevant details, such as weather conditions, trail markings, and the positions of vehicles involved.

Collect contact information from witnesses and other parties involved in the accident. This information may be valuable if you pursue legal action.

Contact an attorney: If you’re considering filing a snowmobile accident lawsuit, it’s advisable to consult with an experienced personal injury attorney. A knowledgeable attorney can evaluate the circumstances of your case, advise you on your legal rights, and help you navigate the complexities of the legal system.

Snowmobiling accident attorneys will assist you in understanding your legal rights and the right to compensation if you were injured in a snowmobiling accident due to another person’s negligence or if you lost a loved one in one.

Who’s Responsible in Snowmobile Accidents?

Determining responsibility in snowmobile accidents can vary depending on the specific circumstances of each case and identifying who is legally responsible for the accident and resulting damages. However, there are several parties that might be responsible for a snowmobile accident:

Snowmobile Operator: The person operating the snowmobile may be held responsible if their negligent or reckless actions caused the accident. This could include speeding, driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, or failing to obey rules and regulations.

Property Owner: In cases where the accident occurs on private property or a managed trail system, the property owner or manager may be liable if they failed to maintain safe conditions, adequately mark hazards, or provide proper warnings to snowmobilers.

You may be able to file a lawsuit against the owner of the land where the path is located if you crash a snowmobile because of improperly maintained trails.

Manufacturer: If the accident was caused by a defect in the snowmobile or its components, the manufacturer of the snowmobile may be held responsible under product liability laws.

Rental firm: You might be able to sue for snowmobile accident if the snowmobile you hired was not properly maintained and the accident was caused by that neglect.

Determining liability in a snowmobile accident often requires a thorough investigation of the circumstances surrounding the incident, including gathering evidence, medical record reviews, interviewing witnesses, and analyzing relevant laws and regulations.

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Consulting with a qualified attorney who specializes in personal injury law can be invaluable in navigating the complexities of a snowmobile accident case and pursuing compensation for injuries and damages.

To summarize,

Snowmobile accidents can have serious consequences, both physically and financially. A basic understanding of a snowmobile accident empowers individuals to protect their rights and seek compensation for injuries and damages.

By taking immediate and appropriate action following an accident, individuals can improve their chances of achieving a favorable outcome in legal proceedings.

Remember, safety should always be the priority when enjoying winter activities like snowmobiling.

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