Sledding is one of the most entertaining activities you can engage in during the winter months. Sleds range widely in size and functionality, but the main point is getting down the hill or slope quickly and safely. Most areas that allow sledding are on municipal property or in parks owned by the city, however, private landowners may allow some sledding for guests or even for the public at large. But if you or a loved one was injured while sledding, who may be held responsible for the injuries?

Principles of Premises Liability

If you were injured while on someone else’s property, then your injury claim comes under the rules and principles of premises liability law. This includes slip and falls that occur in grocery stores, on slippery sidewalks or in a private home, and even assaults by others in parking lots or in bars or restaurants. A drowning in a private or motel pool is also litigated under premises liability laws.

Sledding accidents that occur on someone else’s property are also claims that come under premises liability principles and laws. These often occur when your sled strikes a hidden hazard causing you to be ejected from your sled and to suffer broken bones, severe cuts, or a traumatic brain injury as a result. If you bring an injury claim, the following are factors to be cognizant of in order to have a valid claim.1

  1. Were you lawfully on the property? Because of potential liability and high insurance costs, many towns and cities prohibit sledding on their hills and will post signs clearly banning such activities. Private landowners may also post signs indicating no sledding is allowed. If you ignored the warning and went sledding nonetheless, then you are trespassing and not entitled to compensation for any injuries or damages you may have sustained unless certain limited circumstances existed. If on private property, you may not wander onto the property and start sledding without being given express permission from the owner. However, if the private landowner was aware that the activity was going on and did not take any steps to bar it, then you might allege that permission was implied.
  2. Were children involved? Children under certain circumstances may be trespassing but still be entitled to protection. If the landowner knew or should have known that children would be on the property and sledding, then the owner is obligated to implement safety measures to protect the children. This would include removing hazards that the owner knew or should have been aware of.
  3. Were you aware of the presence of risk? If there is a hazard such as large rocks, trees, bare spots, or other clearly visible obstacles on the hill or slope and you struck or fell off after running into one of the obstacles, then your assumption of the risk or comparative negligence will severely limit your right to obtain compensation, if at all.
  4. Did the owner properly maintain the property for sledding? If the city or private owner who either expressly or implicitly allowed sledding, then the owner must have provided a safe place for the activity to take place. This includes placing warning signs of dangerous or risky conditions or obstacles on the sledding course or making sure that hazards are seen or removed. If a hazard became known and was present for an unreasonable period of time, then notice of the hazard may be imputed to the owner who was obligated to take steps to warn of or to remove it.

Product Liability Claim

Another avenue of compensation is product liability law if the sled you used malfunctioned or had a defect that led to the accident. You must have used the sled as it was intended to be used and not have altered it in any manner for you to have a valid claim. You will need an experienced Boston personal injury lawyer to evaluate your claim and to have an expert examine the sled for manufacturing or design defects that substantially caused the accident.

Injuries in Sledding Accidents

Injuries in a sledding accident can be minor to catastrophic. These can include:

  • Broken limbs
  • Facial fractures
  • Pelvic fractures
  • Concussions
  • Traumatic brain injury

You can prevent injuries by taking these steps:

  1. Wear a helmet
  2. Carefully check out the hill or slope where you plan to sled for obstacles or hazards like poles, trees, fences, or rocks
  3. Avoid hills that are icy rather than snowy
  4. Go sledding or sliding in well-lit areas
  5. Never sled or slide headfirst
  6. Consider only using sleds that have steering capabilities
  7. Never let your child go sledding without supervision

Retain the Law Firm of Lovenberg & Associates

Sledding accidents can present difficult liability issues that only an experienced Boston personal injury lawyer should handle. If you want the best opportunity to obtain the most compensation for your injury claim, contact a Boston personal injury lawyer from Lovenberg & Associates at (617) 973-9950.