With our cold winter temperatures and varied terrain, snowmobiling is a favorite pastime of many here in Northeast Ohio. While it offers fun and excitement, snowmobiles are dangerous motorized vehicles, and like any motorized vehicle, accidents can happen. With the case of snowmobiles, accidents can cause serious, tragic and life-altering injuries—even death.
The snowmobile was invented in the 1920s and was originally intended for emergencies, as well as to transport people and supplies through areas where heavy snow made travel dangerous or unfeasible for other vehicles. Through the years, snowmobiling has gained traction as a popular winter sport.
Today’s snowmobiles are big, powerful, fast machines. Some snowmobiles on the market have engines measuring up to 1200 cc which can produce up to 150 horsepower and reach top speeds of 150 mph. Modern snowmobiles can also weigh up to 700 pounds. Snowmobile accidents result in nearly 200 deaths and 14,000 injuries each year. Alcohol, excessive speed, poor judgment and driver inexperience are cited as the leading causes of crashes. Accidents occur on roadways, highways, and public and private trails.
There are many potential causes of snowmobile accidents. Often, snowmobile operators crash into trees, property, motor vehicles or other stationary objects. Accidents can also result from unexpected dangerous hazards on private properties and public trails. Cars, trucks and other vehicles can impact snowmobiles, causing serious and catastrophic accidents. Snowmobiles can also collide with deer and other wildlife.
Additionally, snowmobile accidents can result from improper servicing and maintenance of the snowmobile, manufacturing defects, or ice/water hazards.
In far too many crash scenarios, innocent snowmobile drivers and/or passengers on one snowmobile are struck by a snowmobiler driving recklessly or under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
Snowmobile accidents can lead to serious injuries, including:
- Broken bones
- Back and knee injuries
- Spinal cord injuries and trauma
- Soft tissue injuries
- Traumatic brain injuries
Your legal rights after a snowmobile accident
Whether you were a driver, a passenger or an innocent bystander, victims of snowmobile accidents have legal rights. In the case of snowmobiles, snowmobile drivers who cause accidents can be held liable for monetary damages if they are found to be negligent in the operation of their snowmobile—or if they were intoxicated at the time of the accident. Additionally, property owners can be held accountable if they were aware that snowmobile riders used their property, and known dangers existed on that property at the time of the accident.
Snowmobile accident lawsuits often pursue just and fair compensation for physical and psychological injuries that result from the crash. Such injuries include disability, pain and suffering, and loss of enjoyment of life. Since snowmobile injuries can lead to extremely high medical/rehabilitation bills and cause victims to miss work for extended periods (or even lose the ability to work), snowmobile lawsuits can also seek to compensate victims for lost wages.
In the case of fatal snowmobile accidents, victims’ loved ones may pursue a wrongful death lawsuit. In such cases, loved ones seek compensation for the victim’s pain and suffering before death, as well as for the loss of companionship for family members.
No Cost Evaluation
If you or a loved one have been injured as a result of a snowmobile accident, your rights are at stake—you need to seek immediate legal advice. At Nager, Romaine & Schneiberg Co., L.P.A., our personal injury attorneys may be able to help you pursue compensation for the pain and suffering that you have been forced to endure. The experienced personal injury lawyers at NRS are highly knowledgeable in personal injury litigation, including snowmobile accidents. We fight side by side with injured victims to make sure they and their families receive compensation for negligence that caused them to be hurt. We will aggressively pursue your case and work to help you obtain the medical care and compensation you need to rebuild your life.
In the event you or a loved one has been injured as a result of a snowmobile accident, contact the personal injury attorneys at NRS Injury Law by filling out our No-Risk Consultation form, or call (855) GOT-HURT and speak with one of our trained staff members.
Ohio Snowmobile Law Primer
- The state of Ohio carefully regulates snowmobiles. In order to operate a snowmobile alone, operators must be at least 16 years of age and hold a valid driver’s license.
- Individuals under age 16 may operate snowmobiles with a guardian of at least 18 years of age with a driver’s license.
- A snowmobile must be registered with the state.
- Your snowmobiles must have safety features that include at least one headlight that enables the driver to see 100 feet in the dark, and at least one red tail light that can be seen from at least 500 feet away in the dark. Additionally, regulations state that snowmobiles must have sufficient brakes that enable it to travel from 20 mph to a complete stop within 40 feet.
- Under Ohio law, snowmobiles may not travel on any limited-access highway except in an emergency; nor may they travel on state-owned land unless specifically permitted.
- Snowmobiles may not be used to hunt any game, and you cannot operate a snowmobile with either a loaded weapon, or a weapon without a case.
Snowmobile Safety Tips
- Always wear a properly fitted helmet.
- Stay at a safe speed, and reduce your traveling speed at night, in reduced visibility, and around curves.
- Dress appropriately for the conditions. Proper cold weather gear will help protect against frostbite and other injuries.
- Check conditions of trails and ice on which you plan to travel.
- Never ride under the influence of drugs or alcohol—and never get on a snowmobile with a driver whom you know is under the influence.
- If you own a snowmobile, maintain it properly and regularly.
- If you’re renting a snowmobile, choose a reputable rental shop, and make sure the employees explain the snowmobile’s operation before you head out.
- Familiarize yourself with cold-weather first aid procedures.
- Keep a phone or other communication device with you at all times.