Snowmachines, or snowmobiles as they are often called in the lower 48, are popular throughout the United States. In Alaska, however, snowmachines are used for more than recreation; they can be an essential means of transportation. Unfortunately, the very things that make a snowmachine a great way to get around in Alaska—the ability to enjoy fresh air and high speeds—also make these machines incredibly dangerous. In the United States, snowmachines are responsible for about 200 deaths and 14,000 injuries per year.
The average snowmachine can reach high speeds of over 100 miles per hour, though some can approach 200 miles per hour. And unlike passengers in a car riding at high speeds, snowmachine riders are unprotected by a vehicle’s exterior, making accidents particularly dangerous.
If you or someone you love has been injured in a snowmachine accident, you may be facing serious, life-changing injuries and significant medical bills. If your accident was caused by someone else’s negligence, you may be entitled to payment for your injuries. An experienced injury attorney can guide you through the legal process and help ensure that you get the maximum that you deserve.
Any type of vehicle can be involved in an injury-causing accident, but there are a number of risk factors associated with snowmachines that make them especially hazardous, including:
High Speed: As mentioned above, snowmachines are capable of serious speed, which can make them difficult to control and can result in rolling the machine, collisions with other snowmachines or stationary objects, and injury to the driver, passenger, or people nearby.
Alcohol: Many people view snowmachines as recreational, and combine that recreation with alcohol or other substances that can impair judgment and response time and lead to accidents.
Lack of Operator Training or Experience: In Alaska you must have a valid driver’s license to operate a snowmobile, but that doesn’t mean that everyone who operates a snowmachine is properly trained to use one.
Nighttime Operation: Riding a snowmachine at night can be thrilling, but it is also dangerous; studies in other states have shown that most fatal accidents involving snowmachines occur between 8 p.m. and 3 a.m, when visibility is poorest—and Alaska has longer nights.
Operator Inattention: Just as with driving a car or other vehicle, diverted attention while operating a snowmachine can cause collisions or other types of accidents.
Manufacturing or Design Defect: While snowmachine or ATV accidents are often the result of operator error, sometimes a manufacturing defect can cause these machines to be unreasonably dangerous.
Whatever the conditions of your accident, if your injury was caused by the negligent or reckless behavior of someone else, they may be liable for the damages you suffered. Actually getting what you’re entitled to is a different story. The insurance company is not on your side; their priority is paying out as little in claims as possible. If you’ve been seriously injured in a snowmachine accident, you should be represented by an experienced Alaska injury attorney whose job is to protect your interests and rights.
Attorney Eric Derleth is known as “the Trial Guy” because of his over 25 years successfully representing injured people in Alaska’s courts, including those injured in snowmachine or ATV accidents. An Alaska native, Eric is well-versed in both our state’s culture and laws. The outcome of snowmachine injury cases depends not only on the law, but the specific facts of each case. Eric’s dedicated trial preparation and his skill in communicating with juries yields favorable damage awards for his clients at trial, and often, generous settlements before a trial even becomes necessary.
There is no risk to you in consulting an attorney; our office offers no-obligation consultations and only receives an attorney fee if your case is successful. To learn more about Alaska snowmachine accident law, and how an attorney can help you, call Eric Derleth at 907-262-9164 or contact our law office. From his office in Soldotna, Eric Derleth serves clients in Anchorage, the Mat-Su Valley, Juneau, and throughout Alaska. Call today for a free, confidential consultation.