You can call them snowmobiles, snow machines, or sleds. Regardless of what you call them, for many Alaskans, snow machines are a part of daily life during the long winter. One thing they all have in common is that, when used improperly, they can be incredibly dangerous. If you have been injured in a snow machine accident, what do you need to know?


Alaska and Snow Machines


As of 2018, Alaska had over 66,000 snow machines registered with the state. In 2017, 5% of all reported highway traffic fatalities in Alaska involved a snow machine. As recently as December 23, 2018, a man was killed in Koliganik in a single snow machine accident. Alaska does not require a driver’s license to operate a snow machine.


Causes of Snow Machine Accidents


Snow machine accidents are similar in many ways to any other motor vehicle accidents. The causes often include:


  • Distracted driving
  • Driving while impaired, either by drugs or alcohol
  • Improperly maintained equipment
  • Following other drivers too closely
  • Poor weather conditions


Snow machine accidents are dissimilar to car accidents and more like motorcycle accidents in other aspects as regards causation. For example, poor technique can cause a snow machine driver to lose control of a sled. Also natural hazards such as boulders, downed logs, thin ice, ditches and other natural features pose risks to snow machine drivers.


Severity of Injuries


Often, snow machine accidents result in severe injuries. There are several reasons for this:


  • Helmets are not required to operate a snow machine
  • The operator of the machine is unsecured to the vehicle
  • There are typically no off-road speed limits
  • In an accident, contact with trees, power poles, rocks and other natural hazards is much more likely than in a “regular” traffic accident.


What if You are Hurt?


If you happen to be hurt in a snow machine accident that you believe to be caused by someone else, how do you proceed? How you proceed is determined by the fact surrounding the accident.  Let us assume you were a passenger on the snow machine and the driver failed to yield the right of way when crossing a road, resulting in an accident and you were injured. Ordinarily, this instance will be covered by the rules of negligence in Alaska. To succeed in your case, it is necessary to prove:


  • The driver owed you a duty to commit or refrain from committing an act (as a passenger, the driver owed you a duty to follow applicable traffic laws, namely to yield the right of way)
  • The driver breached this duty (he or she failed to yield)
  • This breach of duty caused the injury
  • The failure to yield resulted in injuries that he or she knew or should have known could happen (known as proximate cause)
  • You suffered actual injuries (medical injuries, medical bills, etc.)


If you are injured in a snow machine accident, there may issues related to whether the accident is covered by insurance.


Of course, no accident is as simple as that outlined above. Anytime someone is hurt in an accident, a complex and complicated situation is created. As the injured party, you have rights that you need to preserve and results that you deserve arising from this situation. As experienced personal injury attorneys, the professionals at Power and Power Law in Anchorage are skilled and knowledgeable when it comes to ensuring you get those results. If you have been injured in a snow machine accident or any other accident, give them a call today at either 907-222-9990 or toll free at 833-669-9990, by email at admi@akpowerlaw.comor by clicking here and set up your initial consultation and see what they can do for you.