Snowmobile accidents claim around 200 lives a year. Like other recreational activities, it doesn’t come without risk. The original snowmobile was developed to carry people and supplies to reach remote areas during emergencies. Now, there are approximately 1.3 million registered snowmobiles in the U.S., most of which are used for recreation.
But as riders venture out onto trails and into the wilderness, accidents do occur. Each year, about 200 people die and 14,000 are injured in snowmobile accidents in North America according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Just like with car accidents, multisystem trauma is common, with head injuries being the main cause of death.
The institute notes that “Today, snowmobiling has become a popular winter sport enjoyed by more than 2 million people of all ages in North America. However, the modern snowmobile can weigh in excess of 600 pounds and travel at speeds exceeding 90 miles per hour.”
Among the leading causes of snowmobile accidents are:
- Excess speed
- Driver inexperience
- Poor judgement
What happens if you’re injured in a snowmobile accident?
The circumstances of each accident are unique. Careless driving, poorly maintained trails, or product failure all increase the risk of someone getting hurt, whether it’s the driver, a passenger, or a bystander. A careful analysis may help establish if negligence was involved and if the injured party may be entitled to compensation.
Every state is different, but the general principles are as follows to distinguish between accidents and negligence: In order to have grounds for a negligence claim, you need to establish that the liable party owed you a duty of care, breached said duty, and caused you damages in the process.
Here are three scenarios that may result in a claim:
Accident on a designated trail
If the trail is open to the public and designated for use by snowmobiles, the property owner has a duty to maintain the trail in a reasonably safe manner. This means, for example, the landowner should remove fallen trees and other obstacles from the route and ensure trail bridges are in good condition. Should the owner fail to do so, and it leads to an accident – a rider crashing into an obstacle on the trail – the owner may be found negligent.
Accident on someone else’s property
Property owners may be held liable even if their property was not intended for snowmobile use. In this scenario, the property owner may be aware of trespassing snowmobiles and either intentionally tries to injure one of the riders or fails to exercise ordinary care to prevent injury to the same. The accident could also be the result of active negligence, in which case the property owner may have installed something like invisible wiring in the path of the trespassers. If the trespassing snowmobiler is injured as a result of the wire, the property owner may be liable.
Accident as a result of a defect
If you have suffered injuries because your snowmobile was defective, you may be able to file a product liability claim. The issue may stem from a machine manufacturing error or a design defect. Either way, you will need expert opinions and testimony to back up the claim.
If you or a loved one has been injured in a snowmobile accident, you should seek legal help to receive the compensation that you deserve. The lawyers at Injury Smart Law have decades of experience and are experts in wrongful death and personal injury law. Schedule a Free Consultation to learn more. Call today 1-435-688-1919.