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As temperatures fall, popularity for winter sports such as skiing and snowboarding rises. Although these activities can provide countless memories and hours of fun and excitement, they are also inherently dangerous and come with a substantial risk of injury. In some cases, the victim of a skiing or snowboarding accident may be able to sue to recover compensation for costs incurred as a result of an injury.
If you or a loved one has been injured in a ski or snowboard injury and are interested in filing a claim, call Zinda Law Group at (800) 863-5312 to receive a free case evaluation with one of our experienced personal injury lawyers.
IMPORTANT COLORADO SKI LAWS
Determining what rights you may have following a skiing or snowboarding injury often depends on where the injury occurred. Different states handle skiing and snowboarding accidents differently. Some states even have specific legislation dedicated to governing these types of accidents. Thus, it may be helpful to familiarize yourself with the states’ skiing and snowboarding laws.
Colorado’s ski laws are governed by Colorado’s own Ski Safety Act. Under this law, skiers and snowboarders assume the risk of certain dangers inherent to winter sports. Furthermore, Colorado’s ski and snowboarding laws hold participants and operators to certain statutory duties. For instance, winter sport participants must ski within their abilities, obey warning signs, and control their speed and overall activities. Failure to follow these statutory duties may constitute negligence under the legislation, which means that a victim may forfeit some of his or her rights in the event of an injury.
Ski resorts and similar businesses also have to act responsibly. For example, these businesses must make the premises safe for patrons. This includes taking certain precautions such as marking trails, posting certain warnings, and providing notice of on-mountain trail closures.
Read More: Can You Sue a Ski Resort?
COMMON CAUSES AND INJURIES OF SKI AND SNOWBOARD ACCIDENTS
Faulty or Defective Equipment
Even the most talented and experienced winter sport athletes are at risk of suffering an injury when defective equipment is involved. These types of accidents are usually due to defective design or over-used equipment. For example, a snowboard may be too large or too small to operate safely. Defective helmets and other safety equipment may also lead to injury. In these types of cases, the party that sold or manufactured the equipment may be subject to liability.
Lifts and Machinery
Ski resorts and businesses that operate winter-sport activities are under a duty to maintain their ski gondolas and other related machines. Additionally, these businesses must train their staff members and teach them how to properly operate the on-site machinery. If a lift or other machine is defective, improperly maintained, or negligently operated, skiers and snowboarders are at risk of sustaining serious injury. In these cases, it may be possible to file a claim against the ski resort or business.
Many skiing and snowboarding accidents are the result of over-ambitious participants. An athletic but unprepared or inexperienced patron poses a risk to himself and all others.
- Fractured or sprained wrists
- Fractured or sprained ankles
- Broken arms
- Broken legs
- Torn ligaments
- Head, neck, and spine injuries
- Fractured or sprained ankles
SUING FOR A SKI OR SNOWBOARD INJURY
If you have been hit and injured by another person while skiing or snowboarding, you may be able to sue for the ski or snowboarding injury. Because skiers and snowboarders have a duty to ski within their abilities and to act in a safe and reasonable manner, a cause of action may exist if someone breaches one of the duties by acting recklessly or irresponsibly. However, the viability of your claim also depends on your own conduct. For instance, your ability to recover compensation for an injury may be limited if you were acting negligently when the accident occurred.
In some cases, it may also be possible to file a claim against the ski resort or property owner. The strength and viability of this type of claim often depend on how the law of the state in which the accident occurred treats these types of accidents. In general, however, these businesses may be sued if it failed to provide safe equipment and precautions for their customers. For example, if a snowboarder was injured by a hazard that should have been marked with a sign, the snowboarder may be able to sue the resort for negligent maintenance of its premises and facilities.
To shield themselves from liability, ski resorts and similar businesses often require guests and patrons to sign liability waivers. These waivers essentially state that, in exchange for the right to use the equipment and enjoy the premises, guests waive their right to sue the ski resort in the event an injury occurs.
However, just because a liability waiver is signed does not mean that no legal recourse is available to a ski or snowboarding accident victim. Whether a waiver will be upheld depends on the facts and circumstances of the case. If you have signed a liability waiver and have questions regarding your legal rights, consider consulting with a personal injury attorney.
UNDERSTANDING SKI ACCIDENT COMPENSATION
The damages that may be available to a skiing or snowboarding accident victim fall into two broad categories: economic damages and non-economic damages.
Economic damages are damages that can be accounted for, added up on paper and quantified. Examples of economic damages that may be available when you sue for a skiing or snowboarding accident include:
- Medical expenses
- Rehabilitation costs
- Lost income (present and future)
- Loss of earning capacity
- Property damage, if applicable
Medical bills may cover expenses such as the costs incurred by the victim for hospital visits, doctors’ appointments, prescription drugs, and physical therapy. Lost income may include the compensation lost by the victim due to missed time from work. If the injury prevents or impairs the victim’s ability to work in the future, lost income may also include the victim’s loss in earning capacity.
In contrast, non-economic damages refer to the intangible losses suffered by a personal injury victim. This type of damages cannot be easily quantified. Rather, non-economic damages are subjectively evaluated by a jury in a lawsuit. Types of non-economic damages that may be available to a skiing or snowboarding accident victim include:
- Physical pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
- Disfigurement and disability
- Loss of companionship
- Loss of consortium
LEGAL TIME LIMITS
A “statute of limitations” is a legal time-limit on which a person must initiate a lawsuit. If a victim of a personal injury accident fails to file a claim within the statute of limitations, that party is effectively barred from litigating the claim in court. Each state has its own statute of limitations period. The statute of limitations for a ski or snowboarding injury claim in Colorado is two years.
In certain cases, the statute of limitations period may be paused or “tolled”. When this happens, the victim is given more time to file a lawsuit. For instance, a statute of limitations to file a personal injury claim may be tolled when the victim is a minor.
Because the statute of limitations is a critical component of every personal injury case, it is imperative that you understand your legal time limits. Discussing the facts and details of your case with an attorney may help you grasp a better understanding of the statute of limitations, thereby ensuring that your claim is filed in a timely fashion.
LET ZINDA’S SKIING AND SNOWBOARDING INJURY ATTORNEYS FIGHT FOR YOU
At Zinda Law Group, our Denver personal injury attorneys have years of experience helping clients sue for a ski or snowboarding injury. While you focus on recovering from your injuries, we will focus on getting you the compensation you deserve.
Our firm also believes that an injury victim should never have to worry about being able to afford legal representation. That is why we offer 100% free consultations and work on a contingency fee basis. You pay nothing unless we win your case.