Sledding Accidents in Tennessee: From the Sled to the Stretcher

A story about our own Melissa Broz

“I surveyed the ground:  no people, no trees, soft slopes all the way down.  Then I took off- laughing and flying down the hill at Two Rivers Park in Nashville.  I had gotten turned around as I coasted downward, so I kept looking behind me to check to see where I was headed. Out of the corner of my eye, just about 8 feet away, I saw it- the cold, hard, bone-breaking steel of a Frisbee golf post jutting from the ground on a collision course with my sled.   There was no time. There was nothing I could do.  I knew it was going be bad.  …Two seconds later, I couldn’t move, I was face down in the snow crying out for someone to call 911.”  

Melissa BrozThis is the story of Rocky McElhaney Law Firm’s own, Melissa Broz, who decided to let her inner child out to play last week during Nashville’s storm of the century.  She wanted to re-live some nostalgic childhood memories of sledding in the suburbs of Chicago. “The opportunity doesn’t come along often here in Tennessee, so when Nashvillians get the chance, they flock to the hills in hoards looking to fulfill their need for speed.  This is often done with little regard for safety or knowledge of the landscape at the chosen location,” says Melissa in hindsight.   Melissa, who’s back wrapped around the frisbee golf pole like a horseshoe at 35mph escaped with relatively minor injuries considering the force of the impact (several transverse process fractures and deep bruising).  While the full extent of her injuries is still being determined, she knows (especially because she works for an experienced injury and accident law firm) just how bad it could have been. 

Serious back injuries, brain injuries and internal bleeding from sleddding

A few inches to the left or right and she could have suffered a severe brain injury, severed spine or internal bleeding.  Her accident sent shockwaves through our team here at Rocky McElhaney Law Firm and caused us to look into the rising number of sledding injuries across the country. Sadly, many children and adults have fared much worse than Melissa. In Ashtabula, Ohio, a 7-year-old boy died from head injuries that he suffered in a weekend sledding accident after striking a tree at high speeds.  In Lancaster, Pennsylvania, two 8 year old girls were struck by a vehicle when they were sledding down a steep hill, crossed a sidewalk and spun out into the street.  In Tennessee, a Mt. Juliet boy was taken to the hospital for serious injuries he sustained after crashing into a mailbox at 30 mph.  In Richland, Washington, a $10 million lawsuit was filed against the Richland School District after a boy received life-threatening and long-term traumatic brain injuries from crashing into a concrete wall at the end of an infamously-known sledding hill behind a middle school.  The boy’s parents claim that the school continued to allow students to sled on the property despite the school’s knowledge that sledding accidents frequently occurred on the property. 

A sledding safety reminder

People tend to forget sledding, an age-old activity commonly enjoyed by kids, is more like an extreme sport than child’s play.  You’re mixing high speeds with freezing temperatures, ice and snow, and no seatbelts or way of stopping the sled.  To minimize your probability of a sledding accident, you should never go sledding alone or leave children sledding unattended.   Always survey the lay of the land when you get to your sledding location.  Be sure to look for sledding location deal-breakers like parked cars within 100 yards of the slope, trees and poles or posts, standing pools of water, ponds, lakes, or nearby streets and sidewalks. 

Though every precaution may be taken, sometimes a sledding accident can occur due to the negligence of the property owner.  If a public property is known to be frequented by sledders, caution or warning signs should be displayed indicating probable dangers or prohibiting sledding activities.  If not, it is possible that the property owner has failed in his/her duty to protect the public and may be found primarily or partially liable for injuries that occur on said property.   

While we nurse one of our own back to full speed, we caution you to slow down and to be aware of your surroundings as you head out to enjoy the winter in Tennessee. 

If you’ve been injured in a sledding accident, call our Nashville accident lawyers today

If you or a loved one has suffered injuries in a sledding accident, you may be able to receive compensation for your medical damages, lost wages and pain and suffering.  Each case is very different and requires a free evaluation by one of our experienced personal injury attorneys.  Let us help you put your feet back on solid ground.  Call Rocky McElhaney Law Firm today, (615) 425-2500.