Ski Accident FAQs With Attorney John Rogers
What are the most common types of ski accidents you deal with?
Skiing and snowboarding injuries occur for many reasons. Rocks, trees, ice, uneven conditions, avalanche, ski lift malfunction, and equipment failure can all lead to serious injury and death. However, by far, the most common cause of injury on the slopes is when two or more skiers collide.
As skiing grows in popularity and resorts become more crowded with less experienced skiers and snow boarders, the risk of injury by others on the mountain increases. The risk of injury by another skier or snow boarder is increased when the use of alcohol and/or other drugs arguably contribute to the collision.
What should I do if I collide with another skier on the slope?
You should exchange information with the other skier including your name, telephone number, address, and insurance information, as is required by many state Skier Safety Acts. You should also attempt to collect any witnesses’ names and contact information.
Report the Accident to Ski Patrol
You should report, or have a family member, friend, or bystander, report the accident to the ski patrol and cooperate in their investigation.
Document the Scene
If it is safe to do so, you should take or have a family member or friend, take pictures of the area of the collision, the area uphill and downhill of the collision, any signs in the area of the collision, and of any apparent injuries or equipment damage or malfunction.
Seek Medical Attention
Finally, but most importantly, you should seek immediate medical attention through the mountain’s ski patrol service to ensure your injuries receive proper treatment and documentation. Even if you feel fine after the collision, there is the possibility that you have suffered serious injuries that may take longer to present themselves.
Are there any laws related to ski accidents that people should know about?
Colorado Skier Safety Act
There are many specific laws governing the potential liability of ski resorts and others for injuries that take place on their slopes.For example, in Colorado, the Skier Safety Act requires ski area operators to sign and mark open and closed trails with an easy to identify signage.
The Act also imposes certain duties on skiers including “the duty to maintain control of his speed and course at all times when skiing and to maintain a proper lookout so as to be able to avoid other skiers and objects.” In addition the Act imposes “the primary duty...on the person skiing downhill to avoid collision with any person or objects below him.” What this means is that the uphill skier is responsible for the safety of those below them.
Skiing Under the Influence
One area where state law varies considerably is whether skiing under the influence of alcohol constitutes a crime. If a state considers this behavior a crime, that fact may strengthen a civil claim for injuries under a negligence per se theory. Negligence per se means that a party may be assumed to be negligent on the basis that they were breaking the law.
- Colorado: Skiing under the influence of alcohol is considered a Class 2 petty offense punishable by a $1,000 fine.
- Wyoming and Nevada: Skiing under the influence is a misdemeanor that can carry a jail sentence.
- California: No statewide laws prohibit skiing or snowboarding under the influence, but several California County ordinances deem the behavior a criminal infraction carrying fines.
- New Mexico: Snow skiing or snowboarding while under the influence is not prohibited.
Can an out of control skier be held responsible for my injuries?
Just like motorists on the road, skiers generally owe each other a duty to use reasonable care and to exercise caution to avoid causing injury or death to others. When another skier loses control because of a lack of ability, improper control of speed, drug or alcohol impairment, or through plainly reckless behavior, that individual may be held liable for negligently causing injury to a third party.
Often a homeowner’s policy will provide insurance coverage when one skier negligently injures another. Depending on what state the injury takes place in, the injured party’s own conduct and use of reasonable care could impact their ability to seek compensation for their injuries.
Can I sue the ski resort for my injuries?
Depending on the specific facts of a particular incident, a ski resort can sometimes be responsible for a skier or snowboarder’s injuries.
Ski areas have many protections under state law that protect them from liability when injury occurs as a result of the known and assumed risk involved in skiing and snowboarding. However, ski areas do have certain obligations under state law to ensure their trails are properly designated, their lifts are properly maintained, their terrain is appropriately marked, and the risks imposed by dangerous conditions are otherwise minimized.
I collided with another skier on the slope, Do I need a lawyer?
Taking appropriate steps in the early stages of a claim can be critical to obtaining a fair resolution. If you were injured as the result of the negligence of another skier or the negligence of the ski mountain operator, you should obtain a consultation with a personal injury attorney who has experience pursing this type of case.
What happens if you live in one state but are injured in another?
The law of the state where the injury took place likely controls your ability to seek recovery for your injuries including what damages are available.
It is important, if you are a loved one have been injured in a skiing accident, to consult with any attorney or with a firm that practices in the state where the injury took place. While it may ultimately be necessary to file suit against the individual who caused the injury in the state where he or she lives, that state will likely apply the law of the state where the injury occurred.
Zinda Law Group practices in Texas, Colorado, New Mexico, and Arizona, and we have handled cases nationwide. If you have been injured in a ski accident, contact us today at (800) 863-5312 for a free legal consultation. We do not charge you anything unless we win your case.
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About John Rogers
John Rogers is a fierce advocate for those who have suffered an injury due to someone else's negligence. He is an avid skier, and before he practiced law full-time, he worked as a PSIA certified ski instructor. John is licensed to practice law in Colorado, Florida, Illinois, and Alabama and during his career he has advocated for people in a variety of ski accident, personal injury, and medical malpractice cases.
To learn more about John Rogers, view his profile.