It’s been said there are really only two seasons in Canada: winter and construction. And while that is certainly an exaggeration, when you’re affectionately known as the Great White North there is little doubt that snow is a significant part of Canadian life.
Since it’s possible for snow to be on the ground in the Edmonton area for up to eight months each year, we’ve learned to make the best out of it. Albertans are well known for their interest in winter sports and recreational activities, and snowmobiling is one of the most popular.
Whether it’s in the backcountry, on groomed trails, over lakes and rivers, on winter roads, or on private property, snowmobile riders have plenty of places to explore as they glide across snow and frozen surfaces. Unfortunately, each year about 1,200 Canadians end up in the hospital due to snowmobile accidents and about 50 lose their lives. In Alberta, a ten-year study found that of almost 350 collisions involving motorized snow vehicles, 60% resulted in death or injury to a driver, passenger or bystander.
A serious snowmobiling injury or the death of a loved one in an accident can dramatically affect your life. Loss of income during a period of recovery, expensive medical treatments and therapies, and coming to terms with and managing a permanent disability are immense challenges and the fear you may experience over the uncertainty following an accident can be overwhelming.
In the aftermath of a snowmobiling accident you may feel very much alone as you face these challenges. Litco Law Edmonton snowmobiling accident lawyers are here for you during this difficult period. Our experienced, knowledgeable and skilled personal injury advocates can be counted on to provide compassionate care as you seek any benefits to which you’re entitled and compensation for your losses if someone else’s negligence caused or contributed to your injury.
Some snowmobile accidents and mishaps may occur no matter how many precautions you have taken; but many incidents and collisions are entirely preventable. Before you rev up your engine and head out on the snow or ice, take a moment to consider these safety tips:
- File A Trip Plan – You should make notes about where you plan to go, when you plan to leave and when you plan to return. Give these plans to a friend or loved one so that an effective search can be organized if you do not return when expected. Take a cell phone or GPS tracking device with you if possible.
- Inspect Your Snowmobile – Have your snowmobile serviced before that start of the season, and check that all lights, gauges and motors are working properly before each trip. Ensure you have sufficient gas, a first aid kit, rescue tools (rope, ice picks) and a survival kit (flashlight, matches, candles and a survival blanket) with you at all times.
- Wear Proper Equipment – Helmets are required by Alberta law (with few exceptions). It’s also advisable to wear protective visor or goggles, gloves, reflective warm clothing that wicks moisture and a personal floatation device if there is any possibility you will be travelling over frozen water.
- Drive According to Conditions – Keep an eye on the forecast for precipitation, high winds, and especially changing temperatures which may significantly affect snow and ice conditions. Avoid driving in low light or at night.
- Survey The Area – Look for any potential hazards on your route and reduce speeds on unfamiliar terrain. If on frozen lakes, stay close to the shoreline. Ice must be at least 25 centimeters thick to support snowmobiles. Clear blue ice is the strongest, while gray ice is unsafe. Avoid crossing frozen bodies of water where currents or tides may thin the ice.
- Don’t Drive While Impaired – Never consume alcohol or drugs before operating snowmobiles. A Red Cross study found that alcohol may have been a factor in up to 60% of snowmobile fatalities.
- Keep Young Drivers And Passengers Safe – Always ensure other snowmobilers are well-trained in operating instructions and safety guidelines before allowing them to drive your vehicle, especially younger drivers. Also, ensure any passengers are wearing proper equipment and understand what is and is not acceptable on these vehicles.
- Drive With A Buddy – Having at least one other snowmobiler with you on your route increases the possibility for a rescue if something goes wrong. Keep a minimum of 15 meters space between vehicles.
You should also always become familiar with local laws. In Alberta, to ride on public land snowmobilers must have a class 5 driver’s license, registration and insurance and be 14 years of age or older. But there are no restrictions for operating these vehicles on private property. Ensuring you have some type of insurance and adequate coverage for snowmobiling accidents will put your mind at ease.
Causes of Snowmobile Accidents and Injuries
Public Health studies of snowmobiling accidents in some Canadian provinces have found that the most common ways for riders to be injured were being ejected from the vehicle or crashing into a fixed structure. Other types of accidents included collisions between two or more vehicles, being struck by a snowmobile, and immersions into bodies of water.
Common causes for these types of accidents included: speeding, careless or inattentive driving, inexperience, impaired driving or operating on a public way, a steep hill or bank, or on unsafe ice. Reckless driving (including towing tubes, sleds or saucers), lack of proper safety equipment, manufacturer defects and natural disasters (avalanches) were some of the other factors observed that contributed to accidents or injuries.
Hospitalization data suggests fractures, lacerations, and concussions were some of the most common injuries, while head trauma, multi-system trauma, and hypothermia and drowning were frequent causes of death.
If You of A Loved One Has Been Injured
As every accident victim knows, the course of life can change in a matter of moments. In those few seconds, time almost seems to stand still. Then, as the shock begins to wear off, things can become quite chaotic.
Snowmobile accidents can be especially dangerous because they often occur in less populated areas or spaces where emergency responders cannot access quickly. Therefore, it’s important to call for assistance immediately and begin first aid if possible. If you are able, try to ensure you are away from any other hazards (broken or thin ice, in the middle of a road or busy path). If nothing else, try to keep yourself or your injured riding companion(s) warm and shielded from the elements until help arrives.
Once the injured person is stabilized, if possible take photos of the area where the accident occurred, any visible injuries, and take notes about how the accident happened and any important factors (visibility, weather conditions, etc). Keep all damaged gear, clothing and the snowmobile involved in the accident – these can be important pieces of evidence in a civil action. It’s highly unlikely any surveillance footage of the accident will be available in the area unless you or other riders were wearing GoPro recording equipment. But, ask any witnesses to keep such evidence and provide their contact information.
First and foremost, get treatment because delays could be detrimental to your health and recovery. It is always advisable to be assessed by a doctor or other treatment provider (physiotherapist, chiropractor) as quickly as possible following an accident. Delaying this visit could make it more difficult to prove your injuries were the result of the accident, and some non-visible injuries such as traumatic brain injuries or internal organ damage could worsen if treatment is delayed.
Any injury is cause for concern. And while broken bones and cuts can eventually heal, traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord injuries, and nerve and muscular damage can cause permanent injury that significantly impacts the lives of victims. If you or a loved one suffered a serious injury in a snowmobile accident, you may be wondering what, if any, assistance or compensation you could receive.
Benefits and Compensation
If a licensed driver with an insured snowmobile is involved in an accident, you may be entitled to collect Section B benefits in the same way victims of other motor vehicle accidents would. However, accidents involving uninsured snowmobiles or accidents on private land can become much more complicated. Benefits may be available through farm policies, recreational or habitational policies or homeowner’s policies.
Even if you are unable to draw on benefits to cover your medical expenses, lost income, or other costs associated with your injuries, you may still be able to file a lawsuit against another person whose negligence caused or contributed to your accident and injuries. These civil actions can be brought against manufacturers for defects in their snowmobiles, against snowmobile owners for poor maintenance of their vehicles or for allowing an unqualified or inexperienced person to drive the vehicle, and against any person responsible for maintaining private property if their negligence resulted in hazards that caused you harm.
In a civil suit, a victim can not only claim calculable losses (lost income, medical expenses, etc), but also non-pecuniary damages such as pain and suffering associated with an injury.
Why Choose Litco Law Edmonton Snowmobiling Accident Lawyers?
Named by Canadian Lawyer Magazine as one of Canada’s Top Ten Boutique Personal Injury Firms, Litco Law has built a sterling reputation over more than 40 years of personal injury advocacy. Our lawyers are considered leaders in the field by their peers and our firm is well known for its strong support of the community, attentive and compassionate care for clients, and an impressive track record at negotiating tables and in courtrooms.
As a firm with expertise in personal injury law, Litco Law snowmobiling accident lawyers are especially well placed to help our clients determine if they qualify for benefits following an accident, dealing with insurers who are hesitant or unwilling to pay, and to build strong court-ready cases for compensation.
When you contact a Litco Law Edmonton snowmobiling accident lawyer, we will gladly provide a free, no obligation consultation where we’ll listen to your story with genuine interest and concern, explain your options, and outline how we can help you through this difficult time. If you choose to work with us, you will not have to worry about any upfront costs. We only get paid if you get paid for your injuries.
As we investigate the accident, build evidence, obtain expert assessments and reports, and calculate your losses, we will explain everything in easy to understand language and always take the time to answer your questions or concerns. As we advance through the claims process, we will keep you well informed. Our lawyers will encourage insurers to offer you a fair and just settlement rather than take their chances against us in court, but we are always prepared to argue our cases in front of a judge or jury if their offers are inadequate.
What Our Clients Say
We know the kinds of values we want our firm to put into action. Hearing what our past clients say about their experience with Litco Law gives us confidence that they have seen these values at work.
First and foremost, clients like Peggy, David and Stella tell us that they felt as though they were a part of our family and not just a number. We know achieving top notch financial results is extremely important to the people we represent; but, the human story behind each case, the emotional and physical healing required by an accident victim and their loved ones, and the compassion and kindness they deserve are equally important.
We receive many referrals from our past clients because they know we are not only skilled, professional and hard-working, but also people who treat others with the kind of respect, interest and kindness that tells them: “you matter to us.”
Looking For A Snowmobiling Accident Lawyer in Edmonton Contact Us.
We service the Edmonton and surrounding area, including the counties of Parkland, Leduc, Strathcona, Sturgeon. When you need a Snowmobiling Accident Lawyer in Edmonton, think Litco Law Personal Injury Lawyers.