There were more deaths and hospitalizations associated with snowmobile injuries per vehicle-year (considering snowmobiles cannot be used year-round in the state) than on-road vehicle injuries. When you or your loved one is involved in a snowmobile accident, you can experience a plethora of emotions at once. You may be drowning in medical bills and unable to return to work. Most of all, you deserve compensation for the pain caused by another.
Snowmobile Accident Statistics in Alaska
Alaska’s northern region had the highest rate of snowmobile injury and death. The median age of snowmobile injury and death victims was 28 years.
Ejection and drowning were the most common cause of death from a snowmobile injury. Few of those who were seriously injured or fatally injured were wearing a helmet. According to NCBI, snowmobiling is a popular winter sport, enjoyed by more than two million people across North America annually. However, since a snowmobile weighs in excess of 600 pounds and can travel at 90 miles per hour, snowmobile accidents account for as many as 200 deaths and 14,000 injuries per year.
A study released in 2003 by the Canadian Institute for Health Information found that most of those injured on snowmobiles are men in their early 30’s. Nearly 84 percent of those injured in snowmobile accidents were drivers, 10 percent were passengers, 2 percent were riding on a sled behind the snowmobile, and 4 percent were pedestrians struck by the snowmobile. Only about 16 percent of the accidents occurred on “groomed” trails, with most of the injuries occurring in areas without trails or on a roadway designed for on-road vehicles. A whopping 88 percent of the snowmobile accidents occurred after dark, with excessive speed a factor in 82 percent of the snowmobile accidents.
Primary Causes of Snowmobile Accidents
The primary causes of these snowmobile accidents include driver inexperience, poor judgment, excess speed, insufficient protection, equipment failure, misuse of the snowmobile, and impairment. Excessive speed may be one of the leading causes of fatal snowmobile accidents—both for the snowmobile operator as well as for innocent bystanders hit by a snowmobile traveling at an excessive speed.
Misuse of a snowmobile occurs when one type of snowmobile is used in a manner it was not intended to be used. There are performance snowmobiles, utility snowmobiles, crossover snowmobiles, and touring snowmobiles, with each type having its intended uses. When a snowmobile rider expects more from his or her machines than it is capable of, accidents can occur.
Impairment is a factor, not only in on-road vehicle accidents but in snowmobile accidents as well, particularly during night riding. A rider’s ability to react to a situation is significantly affected by alcohol, increasing the likelihood of a collision.
Inexperienced snowmobilers can also increase the number of accidents. An inexperienced snowmobile driver could be unfamiliar with the Alaskan terrain, unfamiliar with the specific snowmobile controls or capabilities, unable to deal with an emergency, or incapable of dealing with unexpected hazards. Young or inexperienced snowmobile operators cause a significant number of snowmobile accidents.
Equipment failure or defective products can be a cause of snowmobile accidents, and when equipment failure is the issue, the manufacturer of the snowmobile could be held liable. Finally, snowmobilers must always wear protective gear, in the form of a helmet, gloves, goggles, and proper winter clothing. In the event of a snowmobile crash, being outfitted with the proper protective gear can make a significant difference in the extent of the snowmobile injuries.
Types of Snowmobile Injuries
A snowmobile accident can cause a wide variety of injuries, most related to the exact type of snowmobile accident which occurs. Traumatic brain injuries often occur when the snowmobile collides with a fixed object, such as a tree or a vehicle, and is more likely when the snowmobile rider fails to wear a helmet. Broken bones, and neck and back injuries—including paralysis—are common snowmobile injuries. The trauma of a snowmobile accident can be severe and long-term, depending on the severity of the accident.
Proving Negligence in a Snowmobile Accident
Generally speaking, snowmobile accidents are similar to car accidents, meaning they are based on the theory of negligence. A claim of negligence must establish that one party owed the other a duty of care, that the person failed in performing their duty of care, and that the failure to perform this duty of care resulted in an accident with injuries. This means if you are injured in a snowmobile accident because another snowmobiler was operating his or her machine in an irresponsible manner, that person could be liable for your resulting injuries.
If your snowmobile injuries were the result of a defective snowmobile or a defective part on the machine, then the manufacturer could be held liable for the accident. As far as children on snowmobiles, while children are rarely held liable for an accident if a child is performing an adult activity—like riding on a snowmobile—he or she may be held to the same standards of care as an adult.
In short, if you were injured due to another vehicle or snowmobile driver’s negligence, if you were a passenger on a snowmobile which was driven by a reckless or negligent driver and suffered injury as a result, if you were injured due to a poorly-maintained snowmobile, or if you were injured as a result of a defect with the snowmobile, you could be entitled to file a claim for damages. Those damages could include the payment of your medical expenses related to the snowmobile accident—both present and future—payment for lost wages if your snowmobile accident left you unable to return to work, payment for lost future wages, if you may never be able to return to work, and pain and suffering.
Getting Help from the Ringstad Law Office Following Your Snowmobile Accident
If you have been injured in a snowmobile accident in the Fairbanks, Alaska area, Ringstad Law Office, P.C. can help you get back on your feet, both financially, and medically. We believe you are entitled to compensation when your snowmobile accident was caused by the negligence or recklessness of another person, or as the result of a defective snowmobile or snowmobile part. We have compassion for your injuries and are highly skilled negotiators as well as aggressive litigators when warranted.
We believe in you and believe in your future. Contact Ringstad Law Office, P.C. today for a comprehensive evaluation of your Fairbanks, Alaska snowmobile accident.