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Common Winter Injuries in Montana

Montana is a beautiful place to live and recreate all year long. From hiking, off-roading, and fishing in the warmer months to snowboarding and sledding during wintertime, there is always something to do in the great Montana outdoors.

Any time you go outside, get active, or hit the road for an adventure, there’s a risk of injury, and the winter months are no exception. We’ll discuss some of the most common types of winter accidents in Montana and injury prevention tips.

Car Accidents

Winter weather conditions can make for risky driving. Black ice, heavy snow, and limited daylight can all lead to motor vehicle accidents that cause serious injuries. While it’s always important to be alert and practice safe driving, this is especially true in adverse conditions.

To drive safely in the winter months, be sure your tires, wiper blades, and exterior lights are all in good condition. Avoid traveling during storms when possible. If you must drive in snowy conditions, remain vigilant—slow down, give other cars plenty of following distance, and avoid making sudden turns or stops.

Winter Sports

Winter activities like ice skating, skiing, and snowmobiling can all lead to concussions, ligament tears, sprains and strains, dislocations, and broken bones. Of course, this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t enjoy your favorite winter sports anymore, but you should take the proper precautions to prevent accident and injury.

Group of snowmobiles ride in line through a snowy forest

Be sure to warm up sufficiently before engaging in any physical activity—the cold weather can cause muscles, tendons, and ligaments to tear more easily than usual.

Always wear the right protective gear for your sport, including helmets, eye protection, warm clothes, and sturdy footwear. 

If you have suffered a winter sports injury, be sure to seek medical attention. Once you have taken care of the immediate injury at an emergency room or urgent care, a physician who specializes in sports medicine can help you recover and return to sport safely.

Slips, Trips, and Falls

Many of the most common winter injuries are the result of slip-and-fall accidents. Slips and falls are the leading cause of head injury and traumatic brain injury in the United States. During the winter season, the ground is more likely to be icy and slick.

When walking on a surface that could be slippery, use short, careful steps. Avoid running or hurrying.

To keep walkways and driveways safe at your own home or business, use salt or sand to melt the ice and improve traction. Wear boots or shoes with good soles. Footwear with worn tread will be more likely to slip on ice.

If you are injured in a fall, see a medical professional immediately, especially if you hit your head. You may have additional hidden injuries that you are unaware of.

Exposure to Cold Temperatures

When your skin is exposed to below-freezing temperatures for extended periods of time, you can suffer frostbite. Frostbite is most likely to occur in the extremities, like your fingers and toes, or on the face, like your nose, ears, and cheeks.

Warning signs of frostbite include numbness and discoloration of the skin. You may not realize you have frostbite right away, since you will lose feeling in the affected area.

Another health concern when exposed to cold weather is hypothermia. When your body temperature drops too low, it becomes a medical emergency. Victims of hypothermia often experience confusion, slurred speech, drowsiness, and memory loss. They may start to shed clothing, believing they are too hot.

Hypothermia and frostbite are most likely to affect people who spend a lot of time outside, such as outdoor recreationists, people experiencing homelessness, and people who work outdoors.

To prevent frostbite and hypothermia, use the following safety tips:

If someone is exhibiting symptoms of hypothermia or frostbite, get them out of the cold immediately. Hypothermia is an emergency situation, so seek medical attention for the victim right away.

Home Maintenance Injuries

Home upkeep during the winter often requires some amount of physical exertion—shoveling snow, cutting firewood, and putting up Christmas lights can all lead to injury.

Before snow shoveling or performing other strenuous tasks, speak with your primary care physician. Be honest about your limitations and medical conditions. If you’re not sure that you’re up to the task, consider hiring someone to do it for you.

Shoveling snow can cause shoulder and back injuries, cuts, scrapes, and bruises. It can even lead to heart attacks. If you are shoveling and you begin to feel shortness of breath, lightheadedness, or a tightness in your chest, stop and seek medical attention right away.

It’s always a good idea to have another person or a cell phone nearby when taking on physically demanding tasks, just in case you need help.

Speak with A Montana Personal Injury Lawyer

Winter should be a fun, cozy time of year spent with friends and family, but an accident can quickly throw a wrench in all your plans. If your injuries were caused by another person’s negligence, you deserve to be compensated fairly for your damages.

An attorney with The Montana Advocates can help you get the settlement you deserve. We have represented thousands of accident victims on their road to recovery, so we understand the struggles you are facing and are prepared to help. We will take on the more stressful parts of the claims process, like gathering evidence and negotiating with insurance companies, so that you can focus on feeling better.

Contact us today for a free consultation. You deserve peace of mind while you recover. You deserve an Advocate.