March break gives us one of the last chances to enjoy winter fun before the official arrival of spring on March 20th. Taking advantage of the last snow of the season might include sledding or snow tubing for some. What child or adult doesn’t love the thrill of coasting down a hill over snow and ice on a toboggan? Yet, these winter pastimes are not without risks and can, in some cases, result in serious or even catastrophic injuries.
However, you can reduce your risk of injury! Here are 8 tips and tricks to stay safe and injury-free:
1. Think ‘safety first’
Wear a properly fitting helmet. It doesn’t matter if you are a child or an adult. You need to protect your noggin’.
2. Assess the condition of your equipment
Make sure your sled or toboggan is in good condition. Maybe it’s time to invest in a new toboggan or a new helmet or even new snow pants.
3. Keep and eye on your surroundings
Look around where you intend to slide. Are there obstacles to be removed or avoided? Trees can be extremely dangerous on a hill. Look for rocks, branches, logs, etc. – basically anything that can be hit on the way down or at the bottom.
4. Look at the surface of the hill
It’s common sense but ice is icy and, ice can be covered by snow.
5. Know the Area
It’s also a good idea to know the area and know what it looks like when it’s not snow covered. This will help you to identify unseen hazards. Did you know that you would end up in a ditch if you got to the bottom of the hill? Maybe not if the ditch is snow covered and you have never seen the area in the spring, summer, or fall. Look at where the bottom is and if you don’t stop in time, where could you potentially end up? Don’t slide where you could end up on a street or in the way of traffic.
6. Watch for people
Look around for others who are also using the area for tobogganing or other winter activities. You want to avoid collisions with others as this can lead to serious injury. If it’s too busy, go back at a later time.
7. Toboggan in the daylight
You can’t see hazards at night the way you can see things on a bright, sunny day.
8. Supervise children
Do not let them go sledding without adult supervision. Check that they are properly dressed, wearing properly fitted helmets with a sled in good working condition.
It is important to take responsibility for yourself and for your children when participating in winter sports that involve risk. But, you can do all the things listed yet still find yourself accidentally injured from tobogganing. That is the nature of this winter sport. In some cases of serious injury, the courts may find liability against others, but even then, the courts may find contributory negligence on you. You are expected to take some level of care for yourself.
Tobogganing hills are often found in public parks. The duty to maintain a public park arises under the Occupiers’ Liability Act. The standard is one of reasonableness. As an occupier of premises, the local governmental agency needs to take reasonable care that persons using the park are reasonably safe.
In the case of De Cou v. Leamington (Municipality), the plaintiff was injured in a sledding accident on the defendant municipality’s property. She argued that there were no signs posted warning that the town did not maintain the hill in the park and that the use of the hill was at one’s own risk. She also argued that there were no barriers to prevent the use of the hill as a tobogganing or sledding hill, even though the town was aware that it was used as one. The court dismissed her case, saying the following:
There is no doubt that sledding/tobogganing brings with it a foreseeable risk of falls, tumbles and detachment from one’s sled. The sled used by the plaintiff was a very light piece of Styrofoam with minimum steering ability. It was not surprising that the plaintiff lost control of her sled and left the worn path that she had taken down the hill on a first run. There was no evidence before me that she hit a log or any other hidden obstruction. The plaintiff’s claim that she hit a log (or a hidden trap) is speculation unsupported by the evidence. It is clear that she came off the sled and rolled down the hill and hurt herself. I cannot conclude that her being thrown off the sled was the result of hitting a hidden object. In my view, it is equally consistent that the plaintiff’s foam sled veered to the edge of the travelled pathway and collided with the harder untraveled snow, launching her from her sled. I do not find that the hill was dangerous for public use.
However, in the case of Uggenti v. Hamilton (City), there was liability found on the City of Hamilton in a tobogganing accident. The Arbitrator found that the Plaintiff, Mr. Uggenti, was aware of the risk of falling off a toboggan, since he had been injured in a tobogganing accident before, but that he was NOT aware of the risk of hitting the edge of a snow covered ditch. The snow covered ditch was found to be a hidden danger that was not a risk inherent to the sport of tobogganing and the City knew about the ditch and its dangers to those tobogganing, but failed to take action to warn of this danger.
If you have been injured due to the negligence of others, contact an experienced personal injury lawyer at 1-844-727-8461 or complete our contact form on our website. The legal team at Rastin Law are here to help you!