The Client: L.C.
The Case: Colorado Ski Injury Case
The Injuries: Multiple fractures requiring surgery, dislocated and fractured left collar bone, and multi-segment fractures on his tibia and fibula.
Case Result: Settlement reached in favor of L.C.
Ski Injury Case in Summit County, Colorado
On a sunny December day in Colorado, our client, a 32-year-old engineer, was skiing on Copper Mountain and enjoying the slopes. Our client was going downhill when, suddenly, a younger skier ran into him while making a turn uphill.
As a result of the impact, our client needed surgery for an open fracture in his leg, as well as multi segment fractures on his tibia and fibula. He also dislocated and fractured his left collarbone. He spent three days in the ER following surgery and four days in post-operation. He needed physical therapy as well.
This case quickly settled, and our client received compensation for the following:
- Past medical expenses;
- Future medical treatment; and
- Pain and suffering.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Below are some frequently asked questions related to ski injury and premises liability cases.
Q: How does a ski accident case work?
A: Ski injury cases usually involve one of the following:
In a situation where another skier ran into you, the case will likely come down to whether that skier can be held liable for your injuries. Skiers owe a duty of care to other people on the slopes, and as mentioned before, uphill skiers owe a particular duty to downhill skiers. If the skier who collided into you was skiing negligently, whether it be out of control or above their skill level, they may be liable for your injuries. Interestingly, injuries resulting from injuries on the slopes are often covered by homeowner’s insurance policies.
Suing the Ski Resort
Ski resorts, though they are excused from some liability by statute, can still be liable for injuries in certain cases. For example, if they negligently failed to mark dangerous spots or if they rented you faulty equipment without bothering to check to make sure that it was safe, then it is possible that they could be held liable. These sorts of cases can be difficult due to the fact that skiers assume certain risks of skiing, but resorts are not immune from liability.
Q: Are there any ski laws I should know?
A: Ski laws vary by state:
A lot of the applicable law in the state of Colorado comes from the Ski Safety Act (SSA), which was passed in 1979. One of the things that the SSA did was to establish that skiing is an inherently dangerous sport, and that skiers assumer some of those risks. However, this does not mean that you have signed away all of your rights when you strap on your boots. Negligent ski area operators can still be held liable for injuries if they negligently caused them. Colorado skiing law also establishes that skiers must ski within their ability and pay attention to those around them. Uphill skiers owe a particular duty to downhill skiers as well because they have a better line of vision.
Learn More: Colorado Ski and Snowboard Accidents
The law in New Mexico is similar to the law in Colorado. They even have a similarly titled law—the New Mexico Ski Safety Act. This law imposes similar duties on the individual skiers, and also establishes the requirements that operators carry insurance and warn visitors of certain risks and dangers.
People from outside of the Grand Canyon State may assume that it is entirely desert, but Arizona is actually home to a few different ski areas. The relevant statute in the state states that skier accept the risk of changing snow conditions, which could be important in a warmer state where snow melts more quickly. However, it also outlines similar duties for skiers to watch out for other skiers and for resort owners to maintain their facilities in a safe and responsible way.
For skiers in California, it is important to understand that it is against the law to enter closed areas—skiers must stay on marked slopes. In addition, California imposes a requirement similar to automobile accidents in which it is against the law for a skier to leave the scene of an accident that they were involved in.
Wisconsin’s law sets forth the general requirements that skiers pay attention to those around them and follow all of the posted signage. However, interestingly, Wisconsin included a special provision in their law that ski patrol members are immune from liability unless they were acting recklessly or intentionally.
Michigan’s Ski Safety Act is actually the oldest of its kind in the country. It establishes that skiers and ski area operators both have certain duties to fulfill, and that skiing activity is subject to the oversight of a ski safety board.
It is important for skiers in New York to understand that the applicable law mandates that they read the “Warning to Skiers” section on their tickets. In addition, skiers need to make careful decisions, taking into account their level of expertise as to how they should ski and on what slopes.
The attorneys at Zinda Law Group have nationwide reach, and may be able to help you even if your state is not present on this list.
Q: What is premises liability?
A: Premises liability is just a fancy way of saying that a property owner has liability for injuries that occur on his or her land. To file a successful premises liability lawsuit, you must show that the property owner was at fault. Most premises liability lawsuits occur because a property owner was negligent with his or her property. However, just because you received injuries on another person's property does not mean that the property owner was negligent. In general, you can only prove that a property owner was negligent if the property owner knew or reasonably should have known about a danger on their property, but failed to take steps to ensure the safety of visitors.
Q:What are the duties of property owners?
A: In all negligence claims, you must show that you were owed a duty and that the duty was breached by another party. In the slip and fall context, whether you were owed a duty depends on whether you were a licensee, invitee, and trespasser while you were on the property.
If you were a licensee when you were on the property, this means that you were on the property for your own benefit than for the benefit of the property owner. For instance, if you went to a friend’s house for a party, you would be considered a licensee.
If you are a licensee, the property owner owes you a duty to make you aware of any dangers on the property. However, a property owner does not have to fix anything to make the property safe.
In the slip and fall context, imagine that you are at a friend’s house and your friend knows that his or her stairs recently were washed. Your friend has a duty to tell you that the stairs are wet. However, he or she does not have a duty actually to make it less slippery.
On the other hand, if you were an invitee, then you were on the property for the property owner's benefit. There are two types of invitees: business and public. An example of a public invitee is someone who goes to a public place like a library. An example of a business invitee is someone who goes to a store to buy merchandise. However, if you went to the store to ask for directions or use the restroom, you will likely be considered a licensee rather than an invitee.
The reason why you need to distinguish these seemingly similar-meaning words is that depending on what status you held while you were on the property, the more or less likely the property owner owed a duty to you. Invitees are owed the most protection because they are on the property for the property owner’s benefit. Property owners thus must take more steps to provide a safe place for invitees.
For example, if you went to a restaurant and the restaurant knows that a certain section of the restaurant has a wet floor, the restaurant management must place signs and place barriers or the like to prevent people from slipping. Otherwise, the restaurant will likely be found at fault for an accident.
Trespassers are those who enter another’s property without permission. Though counterintuitive, even trespassers are owed a duty by property owners. Texas law forbids property owners from willfully injuring trespassers. For instance, a property owner may not purposely set up booby traps in order to harm trespassers.
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