Michigan is no stranger to snow. Starting as early as October, the first snowflakes begin to blanket the state and, by the holidays, snowfall totals can number well over 100 inches. That's when thousands of people hit the trails with their snowmobiles for a little seasonal fun. There were 392,000 registered snowmobiles in the state in January 2011, according to the Michigan Snowmobile Association (MSA).
When operated safely, snowmobiles can be a thrilling way to experience Michigan winters. But like many other motor vehicles, they can also be deadly. The Consumer Product Safety Commission reports that as many as 110 Americans die and more than 13,400 people are hospitalized for injuries from snowmobile accidents every year. Sadly, Michigan had a record number of snowmobile deaths in 2002-2003, with a total of 46 fatalities. Thankfully, that number has since declined. The 2010-2011 season yielded 13 deaths, the lowest snowmobile fatality count in the last 20 years.
Several factors may lead to snowmobile crashes, including driver negligence, improperly maintained trails or a defect with the snowmobile itself. Oftentimes, taking the proper precautions could have prevented the devastating wreck.
If you or a loved one was injured or killed in a Michigan snowmobile accident, you may be entitled to compensation that can help alleviate the burdens caused by another party's negligence. Call the personal injury attorneys at Michigan Injury Lawyers at (888) 454-0801 or contact us online for a free evaluation of your claim. If there is no recovery in your case, there is no fee for our services.
Snowmobile Risk Factors
Part of the thrill that comes from riding a snowmobile stems from its speed and ability to zip swiftly along thousands of miles of Michigan trails. Unfortunately, that perk is also a threat.
- Excessive speed is one of the leading causes of death in snowmobile accidents. Some heavy-duty snowmobiles can reach up to 150 miles per hour – a dangerous speed even for the most experienced operator. High speeds make it particularly difficult to control snowmobiles in curves, and many are killed when they hit trees, telephone poles, street signs, other snowmobiles and even innocent bystanders. Those who survive often sustain serious back and spinal cord injuries, brain injuries, fractures, knee injuries or even burns.
- Riding in the dark is also a top cause of snowmobile deaths in Michigan, according to the MSA. Michigan law requires snowmobiles to have working headlights and taillights, and failure to comply is not only an illegal choice, but a deadly one.
- Intoxication is also a contributing factor in snowmobile accidents. Alcohol or drug use was reported in five of the 13 fatal snowmobile accidents in Michigan in 2010-2011, according to the state Department of Natural Resources and Environment.
- It is important to remember that the operator of the snowmobile is not always at fault. Property owners have a duty to maintain their trails so that it is safe for snowmobiles. Many crashes happen when snowmobiles collide with chain-link fences, wires or cables.
Safe Riding Suggestions
As with any motor vehicle, staying safe while snowmobiling is not guaranteed. However, you can take simple precautions to reduce the chances of dangerous and deadly accidents.
- Wear a helmet. Michigan law requires it.
- Don't drink or use drugs and drive.
- Keep your snowmobile in top condition.
- Never ride alone.
- Avoid crossing frozen bodies of water if possible.
- Never ride in a single-file line when crossing frozen water.
- Keep an eye out for fences or wires.
- Never ride your snowmobile on the highway or main roads.
- Look for depressions in the snow.
- Let people know where you are going. That way, they know where to look if you don't return on time.
- Use your headlights and taillights.
- Scan the trail for pedestrians, animals and other vehicles.
Injured? Call the Snowmobile Accident Attorneys at Michigan Injury Lawyers
Snowmobiles can be fun for recreation, but they can also be lethal. If you've been harmed in a Michigan snowmobile crash, the lawyers at Michigan Injury Lawyers are ready to help. Call (888) 454-0801 or contact our accident attorneys online for a free evaluation of your claim. If there is no recovery in your case, there is no fee for our services.
Based in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan Injury Lawyers represents clients across Michigan, including Macomb County, Oakland County, Warren, Clinton Township, Sterling Heights, St. Clair Shores, Mount Clemens, Utica, Roseville, Troy, Farmington Hills, Waterford, Southfield, Pontiac, Birmingham Michigan, Rochester Hills, West Bloomfield and Bloomfield Hills.