Snowmobile season started a little later in Maine this year because of unseasonably warm temperatures. Underneath the snow on Maine’s 14,000 miles of snowmobile trails, there was water and soft ground. The Maine Warden Service and Maine Snowmobile Association, promoting snowmobile safety, urged snowmobile riders to use the added time to prepare themselves better for the season and cautioned against riding the trails before they were groomed.
When snowmobiling on new snow, there is a danger of hitting rocks that can throw you into trees or other obstacles. In addition, the quality of the snow can dramatically affect steering. The forward momentum of the snowmobile causes a buildup that can cause the snowmobile to turn away, but if conditions are hard or bare, there is no buildup of snow, which changes the steering. If the condition of the snow is poor, you cannot safely travel at a fast speed. In some cases, snowmobiles travelling on lakes and streams break the ice, falling through. In Maine advisories are issued by the state government and private snowmobile clubs regarding the safety of frozen surfaces, and it’s important to always check those before you go out throughout the entire snowmobiling season.
Last season, there were 177 snowmobile crashes in Maine. Six of these were fatal. According to the Maine Warden Service, the most common reasons for these crashes are speed, driving beyond one’s ability, and driving outside the distance of people’s headlights at night. Alcohol can also contribute to crashes. Other factors that can affect the ability to drive a snowmobile safely are visibility, snow and ice conditions, faulty equipment, operator fatigue, and the rider’s age. If you are planning to go out snowmobiling, it is important to tell friends or family about your trip plans. Often, riders fail to leave a plan behind, which can make a rescue much harder.
Those with new snowmobiles should become familiar with how they work before hitting the trails. You should know how to change the belt or spark plug so that you can avoid getting stranded. You should also be familiar with Maine’s laws and rules related to snowmobiling.
If you or a loved one is injured in a snowmobile accident, you may be able to recover damages in certain circumstances. These include accidents in which pedestrians are hit by snowmobiles, cases involving defective snowmobiles, and situations in which another’s negligence causes the snowmobile accident. There are three types of defects that a snowmobile may have: manufacturing defects, design defects, and marketing defects (failure to warn). When a snowmobile with a manufacturing defect causes an accident, it is possible to sue the manufacturer under a theory of strict liability.
In many cases, however, negligence by the operator of the snowmobile causes the accident. If you are injured by a negligent snowmobile operator, you can recover to the extent you can show duty, breach of duty, causation, and damages. As a practical matter, you are most likely to recover if the person or entity at fault has insurance coverage. Except in the case of product liability, there are two types of insurance coverage that may cover snowmobile accidents: homeowner’s insurance policies and snowmobile liability policies. In many cases, there are exclusions in homeowner’s insurance policies that apply to the use of recreational or ATV vehicles, including snowmobiles.
If you are hurt in a snowmobile accident, you should consult a Maine personal injury attorney. At Briggs & Wholey, our knowledgeable attorneys are available to answer any questions you may have. To schedule a free consultation with an experienced advocate, contact Briggs & Wholey, LLC at (888) 596-1099 or through our website today.
More Blog Posts:
Lead Paint Cases in Maine, Maine Personal Injury Lawyers Blog, May 26, 2014
Motorcycling Risks to Older Bikers in Maine, Maine Personal Injury Lawyers Blog, June 10, 2014
Photo Credit: Morguefile, ZeroSilence3