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Snowmobile accidents: What can happen?

As much as some of us hate to admit it, fall is here and that means winter is right around the corner. The cold temperatures and snowfall aren't all bad, though, and they offer recreational activities you can't get during other times of the year without traveling out of Pennsylvania. Snowmobiles are winter's answer to four-wheelers and while snowmobiling is a popular and enjoyable pastime, it also carries its own risk of accidents.

While you may think that most snowmobile accidents happen when the snowmobile hits another object, the most common type of accident is overturning. According to a survey conducted by Hardwood Resource Economics and the Pennsylvania State Snowmobile Association, 35 percent of the people who responded to the survey reported having overturned a snowmobile in an accident. Similarly, 31 percent reported that someone else in the household had been involved in an accident where the snowmobile overturned. One in four respondents reported colliding with an object other than another vehicle.

While rarer, it is also possible for a snowmobile accident to happen while loading or unloading the vehicle. According to the study, 3 percent of respondents said an accident had occurred during this time, and 1 percent reported another household member involved in such an accident.

The causes behind snowmobile accidents can vary widely, from a manufacturer's defect in the snowmobile itself to an equipment malfunction to a facility's lack of proper maintenance. Much like after a car accident, victims and their families have questions about who can be held responsible and whether or not they can file suit seeking compensation after a snowmobiling accident. Understanding the liability laws and legal options is the first step moving forward.

Source: Pennsylvania State Snowmobile Association, "Pennsylvania's Snowmobile Riders and their Needs - 2013" Bruce E. Lord, Sep. 20, 2014

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