Learn about the most common types of ski accidents and the specific laws that apply if you’ve been injured while skiing or snowboarding.
Skiing and snowboarding offer great fun in winter weather, but unfortunately, ski accidents do happen.
As with other kinds of personal injury accidents, people who suffer an injury when skiing or snowboarding have certain rights under the law, including (in some cases) the right to financial compensation.
But these accidents should not be viewed simply as “car accidents on a ski trail.” Snowboard and ski accidents are unique, as are the laws governing them. A complex body of specific ski statutes, regulations, and legal precedent applies. You should know that ski law is state law. This is not a mere legal technicality, where your ski accident occurs controls the applicable law and your rights as an injured skier.
In states where skiing is popular, such as Colorado and Utah, the laws pertaining to ski accidents have evolved over many years. The law in other states can define the rights of ski accident victims quite differently, thus the basis for a ski accident claim is dependent upon the location of the accident. The outcome of a ski injury claim is also determined by the type of accident and how the injury occurred.
Generally speaking, Colorado and Utah recognize skier and snowboarder duties which include skiing in control and avoiding downhill participants. If a skier or snowboarder is hit from behind, the uphill skier is usually held responsible. Fortunately, many skiers and snowboarders are well-insured and at a minimum have a homeowner’s policy that will provide coverage for the injured skier’s damages.
Common Types of Ski Accidents
- Ski Collision
- Ski Area Negligence
- Ski Lift Accidents
The most common ski accident is a collision with a tree. The force of the impact is often fatal due to blunt force trauma to the chest. The second most common is tree well suffocation. Skiers or snowboarders become entrapped in deep snow under a tree, frequently head down, and are unable to pull out. These accidents are always horrific but are considered risks of the sport and offer no basis for a claim.
Ski Accidents Caused by Others
A popular misconception is that a snowboard or ski collision is “just a car crash on the slopes.” Though an inaccurate characterization of the law, we often encounter inexperienced injury lawyers and insurance adjusters with this misunderstanding.
Skiing is not considered a contact sport. While some states do view ski collisions as “inherent risks,” Colorado and Utah do not. The law n these two states is not identical, but in both, people who are blindsided by boarders or skiers do have rights, including in many cases the right to compensation. Learn more about ski collisions.
Ski Area Neglect and Ski Lift Accidents
Just as Colorado and Utah have developed a large body of law to address the responsibilities of individual skiers and snowboarders, both these states assign some responsibility to ski area operators. The Colorado Ski Safety Act and the Utah Inherent Risks of Skiing Act set forth safety standards and immunities for the operation of ski areas. Extensive knowledge of these laws and their interpretation by the courts is critical when pursuing a claim against the ski area for negligence.
Waivers signed with a season pass or at the ticket window are also a common issue complicating a claim against a ski area operator. Ski area operators have required waivers for years for season pass holders, but now the release language is appearing on the back of day lift tickets. Ski area operators fight ferociously to enforce these waivers, which is why hiring an experienced ski accident lawyer is imperative to win your ski area negligence claim.
The most common claims against ski resorts involve ski lifts. Most ski lift accidents happen during loading or unloading, where the most common causes are skier error, improper operation by the lift attendant, or, frequently, both. A lift operator must act to mitigate hazards if a skier fails to properly board a chair lift or if a skier falls on the unloading ramp, preventing the safe egress of other passengers.
Some ski lift accidents occur during the ride. In those situations, the cause may include operation in adverse weather, a mechanical problem, or negligent maintenance, manufacturing or design of the lift equipment.
Ski lift accident claims can become extraordinarily complicated. Due to the severity of many of the lift accident injuries, claims against the ski resort are heavily defended resulting in a constant flux in the applicable law. Learn more about ski area neglect and lift accidents.
Help for People Seriously Injured in Ski Accidents: Free Case Review
The ski injury attorneys at Chalat Law have represented more ski accident victims than any other personal injury firm in the country.
We are a Denver-based law firm practicing in the State of Colorado. Additionally, because of our extensive experience in this highly specific area of law, we often partner with attorneys around the country to assist with ski accident claims in other states
We are a boutique practice, partners of the firm, not legal staff, provide each of our clients a great deal of individual time, attention, and care.
When you call our office, you will talk directly with one of our experienced ski injury attorneys. During business hours, our lawyers are available for immediate consultation when needed. Outside of business hours, we make every effort to return to your call or message as quickly as possible, often within a few hours (and always within the next business day).
To learn more about your rights and options, we invite you to schedule a free case review with our team of lawyers.
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