Maine Snowmobile Injuries Mount; Feds Issue New Rule at National Parks

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.

Snowmobiling regulations at Acadia include requirements for vehicles to keep off carriage roads and hiking trails and to maintain a speed of under 35 mph on paved roads and 25 mph on unpaved roads. Additionally, snowmobilers are required to yield to anyone who isn’t on a snowmobile, including skiers, hikers and snowshoers. Headlights have to be on a half hour before sunset until a half hour after sunrise or whenever there is limited disability. Those on snowmobiles are barred from towing people on skis or sleds, and operation of a snowmobile while under the influence of alcohol or drugs is illegal. Only those over 14 can operate a snowmobile, and those under 18 are required to wear a helmet.

Our Bangor personal injury lawyers know snowmobile injuries are a serious problem in Maine. The federal agency’s efforts to curtail it may help. However, a number of injurious accidents occur outside federal parks.

Some recent examples include:

  • A 42-year-old father from North Carolina was killed in a crash on the Mount Kineo Trail when he lost control of the machine and was ejected, tossing him into the path of another snowmobile traveling in the opposite direction. The cause of the accident is still under investigation.
  • A 25-year-old man was injured on Watchic Lake in Standish when slushy snow caused his vehicle to roll over around 1:30 p.m. The impact caused the rider’s helmet to fall off, and he sustained serious head injuries. Authorities suspect speed may have been a contributing factor.
  • A 24-year-old woman was critically injured in a snowmobile accident in Piscataquis County when she struck a tree and was ejected. She was transported by helicopter to a treatment center in Bangor.
  • A man in Waterville was injured after he was struck by a vehicle while riding alongside West River Road. It is legal in Maine for snowmobilers to ride alongside the road, and authorities say it’s a common site during winter. The rider was not seriously injured.

Success in a snowmobile accident lawsuit requires the aid of an experienced lawyer. Our legal team will explore the contributing factors of the crash to determine whether you have a potential for a claim. We will examine whether the following issues were at play:

  • Lack of experience
  • Reckless driving
  • Improper maintenance and service
  • Manufacturing defects in the vehicle
  • Ice or water hazards
  • Improper maintenance of the area in which crash occurred

Because injuries sustained in snowmobiling accidents tend to be severe, medical bills and other expenses are likely to be significant. It’s important for victims to seek legal counsel as soon as possible to determine avenues for compensation.

If you are the victim of a Maine snowmobile accident, contact Peter Thompson & Associates at 1-800-804-2004 for a confidential consultation to discuss your rights.

Additional Resources:

Feds issue new policy for snowmobile use in national forests following lawsuit from skiers, Jan. 28, 2015, By Keith Ridler, Associated Press

More Blog Entries:

Maine Snowmobile Accidents Spur State Warden’s Warning, Feb. 22, 2014, Bangor Injury Lawyer Blog


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