Articles Posted in Snowmobile Accidents

A 57-year-old man died just two miles from home in a Maine snowmobile accident after striking a snow drift and suffering ejection. Authorities are investigating the deadly snowmobile crash, and unfortunately bracing for more, as the state’s 14,000 snow trails have been busy in recent weeks. With 800,000 registered snowmobiles in the state, this $300 million-a-year industry in Maine is popular, but rife with hazards. Many Maine snowmobile registrations are held by those who don’t reside here, but come solely to ride. (No trail passes are required, but all residents and non-residents must register for ride permission.)

One study published in the journal Clinical Orthopaedics and Related Research revealed there are an estimated 200 deaths and 14,000 injuries a year attributed to snowmobile accidents, with excess speed, alcohol, driver inexperience and poor judgment the leading causes indicated.

In the experience of our Maine snowmobile injury lawyers, the biggest factor in deadly snowmobile accidents has been speed. These 660-pound vehicles can reach top speeds of 100 mph, and too often, riders push those limits. Perhaps part of the problem is Maine has no designated speed limit for those on snowmobiles.

A recent spate of Maine snowmobile accidents have safety officials concerned. 

One tragic example was seen recently in Parlin Pond Township, where NBC-6 in Portland reports a 45-year-old Massachusetts woman was killed after running into a line of trees. At the time, she was leading a group of snowmobilers across an icy pond when she drifted to the left side and into the trees. Witnesses said she was thrown off the sled and landed head-first on the trail. Those who had been following her rushed to her aid and first responders arrived in minutes. Sadly, her injuries proved too severe and she was pronounced dead at the scene. She had been wearing a helmet, but authorities say speed may have been a factor.

That crash was one of several that happened just the first weekend of this month. Maine Game Wardens say there are a number of factors at play, including worsening trail conditions. Melting snowpack has led to exposed stumps, rocks and ice that can be treacherous for snowmobilers. That incident was the ninth death of a snowmobiler this season, the Game Wardens say.  Continue reading

A series of recent Maine snowmobile accidents serve as a reminder of how dangerous the motorized vehicles can be – a point well taken by the U.S. Forest Service, which recently issued new policy mandating park managers limit where snowmobiles can travel on federal land.

Snowmobiling is permitted in the Park Loop Road system – including up Cadillac Mountain – in Acadia National Park. The new federal rules take effect Feb. 27, and are applicable to all national forests in the country.The move is specifically designed to limit injurious contact between snowmobilers and skiers in national parks. Another goal is to stop the vehicles from tearing up remote areas of pristine powder that were once only accessible by skiers.

In 2013, a federal court in Idaho ruled the Forest Service was wrong to exempt snowmobiles from a plan restricting areas in which wheeled vehicles could travel on certain designated routes. The agency estimates some 4 million people use snowmobiles in national forests, and newer technology has made the vehicles lighter and more powerful – meaning they can reach areas previously inaccessible.

A spate of Maine snowmobile injuries – and two crashes resulting in deaths – have prompted the state warden service to issue a formal warning urging caution, adherence to safety practices and a plea to slow down.

According to the Bangor Daily News, at least eight serious snowmobile crashes occurred in a single weekend, resulting in numerous injuries – including those sustained by an 8-year-old boy.

Primarily, authorities say, these crashes involved either inexperienced drivers or drivers who were traveling at excessive speeds. The crash involving the 8-year-old boy occurred while his grandfather was driving the vehicle. In Athens, a 15-year-old boy suffered a head injury when he was thrown from a snowmobile driven by a friend. Several others suffered broken legs or other fractures.

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Snowmobiling is a common hobby in Maine for both residents and tourists. In many cases, it is much more than that: It provides reliable transportation during tough winter weather. With over 13,500 miles of snowmobile trails, winter sport hobbyists like to escape cabin fever by getting out and riding their winter toys. Our Maine personal injury lawyers want to remind enthusiasts that snowmobiles present a substantial threat of serious or fatal injury.

One recent snowmobile accident reported by WABI occurred when a rider flipped his snowmobile while traveling 60 or 70 mph. He was rushed to Maine Medical Center when he suffered a fractured skull, broken vertebrae in his back and neck, fractured left eye socket, and a large gash to his head. He was not wearing a helmet when the accident occurred.In a separate incident, Bangor Daily News reports a tragic fatality resulted when a snowmobiler came over a ridge and hit a broken-down snowmobile trail groomer. The operator of the broken down vehicle had marked the groomer with three orange caution cones, as well as stretched orange tape attached to poles across the front and back of the broken down machine. The victim was wearing a helmet but was traveling too fast to avoid the fatal accident.

In some cases, a premise liability claim may result from a snowmobile accident. In cases involving vehicles, ATVs or other snowmobiles, a motorist or other rider may be at fault. Snowmobile passengers may also have recourse to file a claim in the even of a serious or fatal Maine snowmobiling accident.

All snowmobile accidents are required by law to be reported to the authorities immediately. For a full list of Maine Snowmobile Laws and Rules, information can be obtained at Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife. s

Snowmobile enthusiasts are reminded to familiarize themselves with Maine Snowmobile Laws and use the following safety tips when riding:
-Notify someone before you leave that you are going to go out on trails and what location you will be riding.

-Wear a helmet at all times.

-Maintain a speed conducive to the conditions you are riding in. Speeding reduces the amount of time you have to react to dangerous situations.

-When traveling in groups, maintain a safe distance between you and other snowmobilers.

-Carry a safety kit on your snowmobile which may include items such as a flashlight, extra clothes, bottled water, and small hand shovel.

-Refrain from traveling on frozen bodies of water if at all possible. Ice can crack and lead to a serious injury or hypothermia.

-When traveling alone, only ride on familiar trails. Exploring new areas alone could lead to getting lost and endanger your safety.

-Before leaving, start with a full tank of gas and mechanically make sure your snowmobile is working properly.

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