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Snowmobiling provides great fun and thrilling excitement; however, snowmobile accidents are much too common and  result in serious and tragic injuries.  Our snowmobile accident injury lawyers will help  if you or someone you care about was injured in a crash.

Michigan Snowmobile Injury Statistics

Michigan is one of the top five state snowmobile states in the country.  In 2018, it ranked second in total number of registered snowmobiles with nearly 200,000.  It only trailed Wisconsin in total numbers and was ahead of Minnesota, New York, and Maine.

In a recent year, Michigan reported 26 injuries that resulted from non-collisions such as losing control, fires, or falling off. In addition, 37 injuries resulted from a collision with a non-fixed object, compared to 88 injuries colliding with a fixed object. Fixed object collisions are the most common type of snowmobile accident causing 56% of all accidents.

Common Injuries from Snowmobile Accidents

The injuries from snowmobile accidents are very serious due to the high speeds of the vehicles and the lack of safety protections.  They include:

  • Orthopedic injuries, like fractures and broken bones to the arms, legs, hands, and feet;
  • Traumatic brain injuries (TBI), closed head injuries, and concussions that cause behavioral and functional problems;
  • Spinal cord injuries, including quadriplegia, paraplegia, and paralysis;
  • Herniated discs and bulging discs in both the back and neck;
  • Facial injuries, like a broken jaw, loss of teeth, a fractured nose, and eye injuries;
  • Shoulder and knee injuries, like a torn rotator cuff or an cruciate ligament tear;
  • Fractured ribs
  • Death

Reasons for Snowmobile Crashes

According the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR), excessive speed is the biggest contributor factor to snowmobile accidents and deaths in Michigan. Other major causes of these crashes include:

  • Negligent, reckless, and careless driving of the snowmobile
  • Operating under the influence of alcohol or drugs
  • Riding on unmarked trails
  • Striking fixed objects like trees, fences, posts, and steel chains
  • Driving on the wrong side of a trail
  • Failing to comply with posted signs
  • Fallen trees and branches on the trail
  • Unexpected corner turns and intersections
  • Not wearing proper safety equipment, like helmets
  • Riding on lakes and ponds that are not totally frozen
  • Hit by cars and trucks while crossing roads and highways
  • Horseplay and driver inexperience

The pie chart below shows the breakdown of actions prior to snowmobile crashes in Michigan in 2018. Crashes that had to do with speeding were responsible for over 20% of all crashes.

Michigan snowmobile accident statistics - Buckfire Law

 

None23 (29.49%)
Speed too fast18 (23.08%)
Failed to yield14 (17.95%)
Other12 (15.38%)

Safety to Prevent Snowmobile Injury Accidents

According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health, to ensure proper safety while riding on a snowmobile you should follow these guidelines:

  • Graduated licensing for snowmobile operators is recommended.
  • Children under 16 years old should not operate a snowmobile.
  • Travel at safe speeds.
  • Avoid the use of alcohol and drugs before and during snowmobile operation.
  • Wear insulated protective clothing.
  • Avoid snowmobiling on ice if uncertain about its thickness.
  • Do not carry more than one passenger.
  • If the need should arise to tow a person, using a sled or cutter attached to the snowmobile by a rigid bar connection reducing the risk of injury.

In Michigan, there is a statute prohibiting a parent or guardian of any child less than 12 years old  from operating a snowmobile except on land that is owned or controlled by a parent or legal guardian.  For children between the ages of 12 and 17, direct supervision by an adult over the age of 21 years old is required.  There are exceptions for drivers in that age group who possess a snowmobile safety certificate or are on the land of a parent or guardian.

Fatal Snowmobile Accidents in Michigan

The Michigan DNR reported twenty snowmobile deaths in the 2018-2019 season.  On a single day in that season, five snowmobilers were killed in crashes. One-half of those deaths occurred because the operator or passenger struck a tree.  The second-highest number was called by falling through ice on a lake or pond.  The total number of deaths was up from fifteen reported deaths in the prior year and failing to properly negotiate a curve was the major contributing factor in that season.

Can I file a Lawsuit for a Snowmobile Accident?

Victims injured in winter sports accidents  have legal rights.  Drivers who are negligent, reckless, or intoxicated and cause accident are legally accountable for the harm caused in the crash.  A person who unlawfully allows a minor to drive a snowmobile is liable for injuries that result from the use of the vehicle.

An injured person can sue the owners and operators of the involved vehicles for their injuries.  Lawsuits are filed seeking compensation for the harm caused in the crash.  Claims for injured minors are brought by a parent or guardian.  Settlement awards include payouts for pain and suffering, disability, lost income, and medical expenses.

In the tragic event of a fatality, surviving family members can file a Michigan wrongful death lawsuit.  These cases demand compensation for the pain and suffering of the decedent prior to death, the loss of companionship, loss of income and support, and payment of medical bills and funeral expenses.  The lawsuit can be brought by a family member.

How Much are Michigan Snowmobile Accident Settlements?

Like all personal injury cases in Michigan, a person injured in a snowmobile accident is entitled to both economic and non-economic damages.  These are two separate forms of compensation.

Economic damages are  financial losses resulting from the crash.  Recoverable damages include payment of medical bills, rehabilitation expenses, and related out of pocket expenses.  You can  recover past, present, and future lost income if you missed time from work and are unable to return to employment because of your accident-related injuries.

Non-economic damages are commonly referred to as “pain and suffering” damages.  These include compensation for physical pain, mental anguish and suffering, fright and shock, disability, and other emotional damages.  Settlements also include payouts for any permanent scars or disfigurements caused by the accident.  Your inability to participate in normal activities of daily living or return to your previous hobbies and recreational activities also qualify for compensation in a lawsuit.

Who Pays the Settlement in a Snowmobile Crash Case?

Most owners have separate insurance that covers both property damage and personal injury liability.  Some homeowner’s insurance policies and business policies include coverage for injuries and deaths caused by snowmobile accidents.  In most cases, the settlements are sought only from the insurance company and not from the owner or driver of the vehicle.

In addition, property owners are held liable if they are aware that snowmobile riders use their property and they have known dangers on the properly.  However, trespassers who are injured on the property of another may not be able to sue the owner under most circumstances.

Contact Our Michigan Snowmobile Accident Lawyers

If you or a family member  suffered injuries in a Michigan snowmobile accident, contact our attorneys immediately to discuss your case. Our award-winning lawyers will start working on your case immediately gathering all the evidence and witness statements to win your case.

Best of all, will represent you under our No Fee Promise. This means that you will not be charged any legal fees whatsoever unless we obtain a settlement or recovery for you. If we do not get you a settlement, you owe us nothing!

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