Articles Posted in Snowmobile Accidents

Although Central New York has been blanketed with the white stuff since back at the beginning of December, it has been a quiet season for snowmobile accidents. In an average year, there are between 300 and 400 snowmobile accidents in New York State, with about 25 fatal ones. I could be wrong, but I think New York snowmobile accidents are down this year, and that’s good. I say this because I have read about only one minor sled accident this year, and that’s unusual.

The one reported snowmobile accident was on January 9, in West Turin, Lewis County. Two snowmobilers going too fast lost control of their sled at a curve near Smith Road, careened down a steep embankment, and received minor injuries.

The decrease in snowmobile accidents this year could be due to one of three things (or a combination of all three!): (1) less snowmobiling (high gas prices?); (2) dumb luck; or (3) snowmobilers are finally embracing the safe snowmobile practices endorsed by law enforcement, as well as this Central and Syracuse New York snowmobile accident lawyer. Click the link to see my snowmobile safety tips.

Have you dusted off and revved up your sled yet? Many Central New York snowmobilers have. Snowmobiling is a fun family sport, and is wildly popular all over Central New York, including Onondaga, Cayuga, Wayne, but especially up in the “North Country” of Oswego County, St. Lawurence County, Jefferson County and Lewis County.

In case you haven’t noticed, though, this great outdoor activity comes with certain risks. Snowmobiles are fast, heavy machines whizzing across diverse terrain, including through wooded areas.

As a Central New York snowmobile accident lawyer, I have seen snowmobile injuries close up. Believe me, they ain’t pretty. I have seen it all; broken arms and legs, head trauma, neck fractures and face injuries. Head and neck injuries are the worst, and can lead to death.

The Governeur Times reported yesterday that St. Lawrence County sheriff’s deputies are investigating a fatal snowmobile accident on the Tooley Pond Road near the River Road in the Town of Clifton. A 40-year old snowmobiler of Brownville, N.Y. was traveling north on the east side of Tooley Pond Road when he crossed onto the west side of the road, struck a snow bank and was ejected.

Most snowmobile accidents are caused by snowmobile operator error, usually involving excess speed. Most snowmobile accidents involve a smowmobile driver striking a fixed object, just like in this unfortunate accident, where the driver struck a snow bank.

Sometimes snowmobile accident victims are not at fault, or some other person is partially at fault. This Central New York snowmobile accident lawyer has blogged several times recently about snowmobile accident lawsuits in New York State. You can read all my snowmobile accident blogs, which include safety tips for snowmobiling, by clicking here, here, here and here

When I look back over the past month or so (December and January), I see that I have been blogging quite a bit about car and snowmobile accidents. It is no coincidence. This time of year, these kinds of accidents fill up the newspapers and tie up my phone line.

Car accidents happen with greater frequency in winter for two reasons: (1) the slippery conditions and (2) the shorter days (People are driving in the dark more often, with more limited visibility, both on the way to work and back). And do I need to explain why snowmobile accidents happen with greater frequency in winter? I think not!

A few days ago I blogged that car accidents are sometimes the “road’s fault”, that is, that a government entity (New York State, or a town, city or county) negligently designed the road or its signage, traffic control devices, drainage ditches, shoulders, etc. I explained that, in such cases, motor vehicle accident victims may have a valid claim against whatever government entity designed and maintained the roadway.

There are between 300 and 400 snowmobile accidents in New York State each year, with about 25 fatal ones. Two more snowmobile accidents were reported in recent days. I previously blogged about safety rules for snowmobiling. These recent snowmobile crashes remind us of the do’s and don’ts of snowmobiling:

Snowmobile Accident #1: The Syracuse Post Standard reports that a Lyncourt man died from a snowmobile accident in Lewis County last Saturday night. The snowmobiler was traveling on Smith Road in the town of West Turin around 8 p.m. when he apparently LOST CONTROL of his sled on a curve, and STRUCK SOME TREES. He was pronounced dead upon his arrival to Lewis County General Hospital.

Snowmobile Accident #2: The Saratogan reports a snowmobile accident near Edinburg on Great Sacandaga Lake this past weekend. An East Greenbush resident allegedly CLIPPED THE REAR OF ANOTHER SNOWMOBILE, causing him to fall off the sled and strike his head on the ice. He was airlifted to Albany for treatment and was listed in stable condition. Fortunately, he was WEARING A HELMET.

The Geneva Finger Lakes Times reports today on a snowmobile accident last Friday in Farmington, Wayne County. Here’s what happened: Two snowmobilers were operating their sleds in an open field. One of the snowmobilers turned his sled into the path of the other, causing the second to be thrown, and his snowmobile to turn over onto his left arm, fracturing the two bones in his forearm. The accident happened in a field north of Green Road at about 6:00 pm. The injured snowmobiler was taken to FF Thompson Hospital in Canandaigua.

I recently blogged about the dangers of snowmobiling and how to minimize the risks associated with the sport. Snowmobile accidents don’t just “happen”; snowmobilers make them happen by negligent, careless driving. Here, depending on the facts, either one or both of the snowmobile drivers are to blame for this accident. From the facts as reported, it would seem that the snowmobiler who turned his sled into the path of the other would be legally liable for the accident.

Snowmobilers who use their snowmobiles off their own property are required to have liability insurance on their snowmobile. I hope that the at-fault driver here had insurance on his sled so that the other driver, with the help of a New York snowmobile accident lawyer, can tap into it to cover his medical expenses, any lost wages, and also get some compensation for his pain and suffering.

What three things just don’t mix well with a picturesque winter landscape such as the one I see as I look out my window in Geneva, New York this evening? Answer: Snowmobiles, drinking and speed. Yes, I know I already recently blogged about snowmobile accidents in New York , but snowmobiling is on my mind because of this wintery weather we are having. Here’s some more important safety information for New York sledders:

There are over 130,000 registered snowmobiles in New York State, and almost 11,000 miles of official snowmobile trails. Speed and alcohol are by far the two biggest factors in causing snowmobile accidents and fatalities. The deadliest sledding season ever recorded in New York was the 2002-2003 season, which, according to the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, took 31 lives. Fortunately, the 2008-2009 season (last year) took only 14 lives in New York. The fatalities last year seemed to cluster in the southern Adirondacks, near Long Lake (Hamilton County) and Otter lake (Oneida County).

All the experts say that excessive speed is almost always a factor in snowmobile crashes. Our experience bears this out: At Michaels Bersani Kalabanka, we handle claims every year on behalf of innocent snowmobilers injured by the negligence, carelessness and recklessness of other sledders, usually involving excessive speed.

Snowmobiling is a favorite winter activity of many central New Yorkers. New York boasts over 10,000 miles of funded or groomed trails, many of which are located in Onondaga, Oswego, Cayuga, Seneca, Wayne, and Ontario counties. Sadly, every winter brings new snowmobile fatalities and serious injuries to upstate New Yorkers. Winter has just started and already the snowmobile accidents have begun. Unfortunately, Syracuse, Oswego and Auburn area snowmobile accident lawyers will soon be getting those unsettling calls from the family of those suffering devastating injuries from snowmobile collisions. I just read about an accident this week in Pennsylvania, where a snowmobile collided with a horse and buggy, killing the snowmobiler.

In past years, there have been somewhere between 300 and 400 snowmobile accidents in New York State each year, with about 25 per year being fatal. Unsafe speed is listed as the cause of the majority of snowmobile accidents, and of those, alcohol consumption often plays a role. Most snowmobile collisions are with fixed objects, such as trees, after the operator loses control and leaves the trail, but crashes with other snowmobiles, cars or trucks are not uncommon.

Before you take out your “sled” this winter, make sure you are familiar with New York State laws regulating snowmobiling. If you are going to snowmobile on any property other than your own, you need to register your snowmobile with the Department of Motor Vehicles. You also need to get auto insurance for it. All operators and passengers of snowmobiles are required to wear helmets. Local ordinances might contain additional rules regulating snowmobile use.

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