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Common Winter Injuries in North Dakota

On average, the state of North Dakota gets about 50 inches of snow each winter season. Many residents rejoice at the return of wintertime, in anticipation of holiday fun and days spent participating in winter sports.

Unfortunately, winter weather brings with it the risk of illness and injury. Even seemingly innocuous activities like snow shoveling can lead to injuries that require weeks or months of recovery.

We’ll cover some of the most common winter injuries in North Dakota and injury prevention safety tips below.

Slips, Trips, and FallsGraphic showing statistics of slip and fall accident hospitalizations

Icy walkways are hazardous conditions that should be taken care of immediately to avoid slip-and-fall accidents. By using ice melt or signage indicating the presence of slippery surfaces, property owners can prevent serious injuries and even fatalities.

According to the National Floor Safety Institute, slips account for 1 million hospital visits each year. This represents about 12% of all fall-related hospitalizations. Half of all accidental deaths at home are caused by a fall, and most of these happen at ground level.

Falls are a leading cause of head injuries and broken bones. To decrease your risk of injury from a fall accident, always be on the lookout for potentially slick surfaces. Use handrails whenever they are available, and wear slip-resistant shoes. 

If you do fall, do not hesitate to seek medical attention, especially if you hit your head. You may not realize you have hidden injuries. These injuries may make themselves apparent later on, and the longer you wait to treat them, the more difficult your recovery may be.

Winter Sports Injuries

Winter activities like snowboarding, ice skating, sledding, and snowshoeing are a great way to stay active in cold weather, but they can lead to a variety of injuries. 

Many skiers and snowboarders suffer concussions and other traumatic brain injuries after a crash. Ligament sprains, muscle tears, and joint dislocations are other common problems athletes face.

When participating in winter sports, always wear appropriate protective gear. Depending on your activity, this may include a helmet, goggles, sturdy boots, layered winter clothing, gloves, and/or a ski mask.

If you will be doing any kind of strenuous activity, make sure you warm up sufficiently. Your muscles are more likely to tear in cold weather, so it’s important to warm them up with slower movements and stretches first.

It’s also crucial to know your limits. Attempting stunts or other endeavors that are outside your level of fitness or skill can lead to illness and injury. If you experience unusual shortness of breath or chest tightness while recreating, stop and seek medical care right away. You may be experiencing a heart attack.

Car Accidents and Other Motor Vehicle Crashes

Even in the best conditions, driving is a statistically risky activity—more than 4,000 people are injured or killed in automobile accidents each year in North Dakota alone. During the winter months, weather conditions may create unsafe roads.

Two of the biggest concerns when driving in the winter are limited visibility and the possibility of black ice.

When snow, sleet, or fog impair drivers’ vision, the likelihood of lane departures and rear-end collisions increase. Even when visibility is clear, roads can still be icy and slick, causing drivers to lose control and slide off the road or into other cars.

When possible, avoid traveling when dangerous weather conditions are present. If you frequently drive in heavy snow, install winter tires on your car. When road conditions are poor, slow down and allow the vehicles in front of you plenty of space.

Snowmobile Accidents

Snowmobiling is another winter activity that, while not human-powered like other sports, can still cause serious bodily injury in the event of an accident. Reckless driving can cause a snowmobile to flip, potentially pinning its rider under hundreds of pounds of machine. It can also be easy to become lost or stuck in heavy snow, increasing a rider’s risk of hypothermia or frostbite.

Much like car crashes, snowmobile accidents can lead to head injuries, neck and back injuries, internal organ damage, broken bones, cuts, and bruises. 

Stay safe while snowmobiling by always sticking with a buddy. Drive responsibly and never use alcohol or drugs while operating a snowmobile. Avoid cutting across lakes—it may save you some time, but ice thickness can vary greatly across bodies of water and you may overestimate how much weight the ice can hold.

What Should I Do After a Winter Accident in North Dakota?

If you have been seriously injured in any kind of accident, go to an emergency room or urgent care facility immediately. If your injuries are not necessarily an emergency, or if you are not sure you are injured, you should still see your primary care doctor to get checked out.

If your accident involves another party, like a two-car collision or a slip-and-fall accident on another person’s property, always exchange information with them. Get their name, address, phone number, and insurance information. You should also get the contact information of any witnesses.

After a car accident, you should call local law enforcement to file a police report. This will help if you decide to file an insurance claim later on.

A personal injury lawyer talks to his clients across the table.

Contact The North Dakota Advocates

Dealing with the aftermath of an accident can be an overwhelming experience. When you are already facing physical pain and emotional distress, worrying about how you will pay your bills is the last thing you want to do. A personal injury attorney with The North Dakota Advocates can help.

Your Advocate will guide you through the claims process and help you get the answers you need. We will fight insurance companies on your behalf to get you the financial compensation you deserve for your damages. Contact us today for a free consultation.

After an accident, you deserve an injury lawyer who will help take stress off your plate. You deserve an Advocate.