Fort Worth Ski & Snowboard Accident Lawyers
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Skiing and snowboarding are extremely popular winter sports enjoyed by many Fort Worth Texans. From families looking for winter fun to seasoned athletes looking for their next challenge, each year thousands of skiers and snowboarders from DFW make their way to the slopes. Enjoyable as they are, skiing and snowboarding are not without risk. Accidents associated with these sports can result in debilitating and even fatal skier injuries. When these accidents occur, injured victims are often left struggling to recover satisfactory compensation. If you or a loved one were injured in a ski or snowboarding accident, do not hesitate to speak with one of our Fort Worth ski and snowboard accident lawyers today.
At Zinda Law Group, we believe no personal injury victim should lack excellent legal representation. Call Zinda Law Group at (800) 863-5312 for a 100% free consultation with an experienced injury lawyer near you.
Case illustration – Michael Schumacher Ski accident
One of the most high-profile ski accidents in the past decade was that of Michael Schumacher, the world-renowned Formula 1 racing driver. On December 29, 2013, the then-45-year-old Schumacher was skiing at Méribel, a resort in the French Alps. The seven-time Formula 1 World Champion had been retired from driving for just over a year.
Schumacher, an experienced skier, fell and hit his head on a rock. At the time of the accident, he was skiing “off-piste,” a term referring to terrain that is off pre-groomed ski trails. Though he was wearing a helmet, he sustained a “traumatic brain injury.”
The helmet is credited with having likely saved his life. After being airlifted from the resort to Grenoble for “immediate neurosurgical intervention,” he was placed in a medically induced coma. Three months after the accident, it was revealed that Schumacher had finally been brought out of the coma and was released for in-home rehabilitation.
Since the accident and in an effort to preserve privacy, Schumacher’s family has made minimal revelations about his condition. However, eight years after his tragic accident, it was revealed in a statement by his manager that the now-53-year-old Schumacher “cannot walk” as a result of his ski injuries.
His dedicated wife, Corinna, has explained: “Of course I miss Michael every day. But it’s not just me who misses him. The children, the family, his father, everyone around him. . .I mean, everybody misses Michael, but Michael is still here. Different, but he’s here, and that gives us strength, I find.”
As this case illustrates, ski and snowboarding accidents can be extremely dangerous. At the end of the day, experience and safety gear provide only limited protection.
Read more: Burns, John. “Two Months After Michael Schumacher’s Ski Accident, Hopes for His Recovery Dim.” The New York Times, 27 Feb. 2014; “‘He can’t communicate’: Ferrari chief’s Michael Schumacher health reveal.” Fox Sports Australia, 6 Oct. 2021; Adu, Aletha. “F1 GREAT What happened to Michael Schumacher and how is he doing now?” The Sun, 11 Jan. 2022.
Ski & Snowboard accident Statistics
Again, snow sports are a very popular winter activity. Collectively, the National Ski Areas Association (NSAA) estimated that, in 2019, the industry supported over 533,000 jobs and contributed approximately $29 billion to the United States gross domestic product (GDP). In the 2020/21 season, the NSAA estimated a total of 59 million “snow sport visits” nationally.
Year after year, the highest concentration of visits in the U.S. is to the Rocky Mountain region. This region saw nearly 23 million visits in the 2020/21 season alone. However, skiing and snowboarding are by no means limited to the famous Rocky Mountain slopes.
According to the NSAA, there were 462 ski areas in operation across 36 states during the 2020/21 ski season. The states with the most ski areas are New York (49), Michigan (39), Wisconsin and Colorado (each with 31), California and New Hampshire (each with 27), and Pennsylvania (26).
In the 2020/21 season, the NSAA reported 41 catastrophic skier injuries, an increase of 12 incidents over the previous season but just below the 10-year average of 43 catastrophic injuries per season. “Catastrophic injury” is defined as those with “significant neurological trauma, major head injuries, spinal cord injuries resulting in full or partial paralysis, and injuries resulting in the loss of a limb.”
Of the 41 reported catastrophic injuries, 23 occurred while the individual was skiing and 16 while snowboarding. Two were on unknown equipment.
Similarly, in the 2020/21 season, the NSAA reported 48 skier and snowboarder fatalities, an increase of six over the previous season and higher than the 10-year average of 39 fatalities per season. These measurements include only the fatalities that occur during normal ski-area operating hours; after-hour deaths that take place while ski-areas are closed are excluded from the head count.
Of the 48 reported fatalities, 34 occurred while the individual was skiing and 12 while snowboarding. Two were on unknown equipment.
Participation in downhill snow sports is strongly correlated with age and gender. In the 2020/21 season, those aged 24 and younger made up the highest share (37.4%) of ski visitors. In the same season, males made up 62% of visitors; by contrast, females made up only about 40%.
Interestingly, catastrophic injury and fatality correlate even more strongly with age and gender. Of the 41 catastrophic injuries reported in the 2020/21 season, 28 involved males and 13 involved females. Of the 48 fatalities reported in the same season, 45 involved males and only three involved females.
Skiing & Snowboarding safety tips
As Michael Schumacher’s tragic accident illustrates, skiing and snowboarding accidents can lead to truly tragic consequences. It is important to remember that accidents like these are not mere statistics and that they can happen to anyone. If you or your family plan on skiing or snowboarding, be sure to take all safety precautions.
Your Responsibility Code
To minimize the risk of ski injuries and snowboard injuries, the NSAA recommends following Your Responsibility Code. Introduced in the 1960s as snow sports began increasing in popularity in the United States, the Code consists of seven points.
1. Always stay in control, and be able to stop or avoid other people or objects.
2. People ahead of you have the right of way. It is your responsibility to avoid them.
3. You must not stop where you obstruct a trail, or are not visible from above.
4. Whenever starting downhill or merging into a trail, look uphill and yield to others.
5. Always use devices to help prevent runaway equipment.
6. Observe all posted signs and warnings. Keep off closed trails and out of closed areas.
7. Prior to using any lift, you must have the knowledge and ability to load, ride, and unload safely.
Additionally, the NSAA emphasizes the importance of remaining aware of your surroundings. Winter slopes are often unpredictable environments.
Things to watch out for include adverse weather conditions, changing snow conditions (for example, ice and avalanches), and machinery working on the hill. Notably, the Code also takes time to highlight the considerable dangers associated with ski lift accidents.
Wear a helmet
Wearing a helmet while skiing or snowboarding is normally left up to individual choice. That said, the importance of wearing a helmet is difficult to overstate. For example, had Michael Schumacher not been wearing a helmet at the time of his accident, he would likely not be alive today; his is but one example.
The importance of wearing helmets while skiing and snowboarding has become more and more accepted over the past two decades. The NSAA reported increased helmet usage every year for 18 consecutive years. By the 2019/2020 season, 86% of skiers and snowboarders in the United States wore helmets. By contrast, in the 2002/03 season, only 25% of skiers and snowboarders reported wearing helmets.
Helmet usage is strongly correlated with age. Children aged 9 and under are the most likely to wear helmets, with 100% wearing helmets in the 2019/2020 season. Similarly, 96% of individuals aged 17 years and younger wore helmets.
By contrast, of individuals between the ages of 18–25, around 82% wore helmets in the same season. Though not ideal, this is a huge improvement from the 2003/03 season, in which only 18% of individuals aged 18–24 and only 25% of individuals between aged 24–35 reported wearing helmets.
Read more: Weinstein, Sarah, et al. “Common Skiing and Snowboarding Injuries.” Current Sports Medicine Reports, vol. 18, no. 1, Nov. 2019, pp. 393–400.
legal route to compensation
If you were injured in a ski accident or snowboard accident, you may be entitled to compensation. This section will discuss the most common route toward securing compensation, as well as a few potential obstacles. Our personal injury lawyers are a phone call away to explain in greater depth.
Negligence is the primary route to securing compensation. This is easily the most common cause of action in all personal injury cases. Arguing negligence requires proving four elements; a plaintiff’s case fails if they fail to prove any element.
Duty: Defendant owed plaintiff a duty to use reasonable care.
Breach: Defendant breached their duty.
Harm: Plaintiff suffered a harm.
Causation: Defendant’s breach of duty caused plaintiff’s harm.
The underlying premise of this cause of action is simple. It simply asserts that we all have a duty to exercise a certain threshold of precaution in our activities to avoid putting other people in danger. That threshold is measured by considering what a “reasonable person” would have done in the same situation.
Of course, “reasonableness” is a very open-ended concept and subject to contextualized interpretation. Successfully arguing that you are entitled to compensation because someone failed to take reasonable precaution requires the skill of an experienced attorney.
A negligence claim can be brought against numerous parties. Obvious candidates include (1) other skiers and snowboarders who failed to use reasonable care on the slopes and (2) ski resorts who unreasonably failed to keep conditions safe on the slopes.
2. “Assumption of the Risk”
Defendants in the skiing and snowboarding context often have a powerful defense at their disposal. This defense is known as “assumption of the risk.”
This concept is straightforward. It comes up in situations where an injured plaintiff knew or should have known that the activity they engaged in—for example, skiing and snowboarding—was “inherently dangerous.” Defendants can use this as an excuse to pass culpability back to injured plaintiffs.
In some jurisdictions, this notion of “inherent dangerousness” associated with skiing and snowboarding has been codified in statutes. Most notably, Colorado—by far one of the most popular ski and snowboarding destinations in the United States—passed the Colorado Ski Safety Act in 1979. “Realizing the dangers that inhere in the sport of skiing, regardless of any and all reasonable safety measures that can be employed,” the law presumes by default that skiers accept the risk and legal responsibility associated with the “inherent dangers and risks of skiing.”
However, the Colorado law preserves two caveats. First, the risk of skier-to-skier collision is not deemed inherent and can be avoided through safe practices. Second, though each skier has a duty to operate safely, the law emphasizes that skiers going downhill shoulder the primary duty to avoid collision.
Further, many jurisdictions employ another concept known as “comparative negligence.” This means that in cases where a plaintiff’s actions partially contributed to their accident, their compensation is reduced accordingly.
For example, imagine that a defendant skier collided with a plaintiff. Damages are determined to be $1 million; however, the plaintiff is determined to have contributed 30% to the accident. In a jurisdiction that has adopted comparative negligence, the plaintiff in this case could only recover $700,000.
3. Statute of Limitations
In any personal injury case, it is very important to be aware of the governing statute of limitations, which simply refers to a law setting a deadline after which you can no longer bring your case. Because each state sets its own statute of limitations, there is some variation across jurisdictions. Most states set the deadline at 2–3 years after the date of your accident.
It is imperative that you bring your case before the deadline passes. Once time runs out, the deadline acts as a virtually absolute bar against your case. Therefore, do not hesitate to contact a personal injury lawyer as soon as possible; time is of the essence.
OUR Fort Worth ski and snowboard accident lawyers CAN HELP
Skiing and snowboarding are extremely popular. The appeal of these winter sports is undeniable. However, they are also accompanied by significant risk of injury. When accidents occur, victims are often left struggling to secure financial compensation when they should instead be focused on their physical recovery.
Our injury attorneys are here to help. So if you have wondered, “Is there an affordable attorney or personal injury lawyer near me?” look no further.
At Zinda Law Group, we believe every personal injury victim deserves excellent legal representation. Our injury attorneys pride themselves in providing that representation.
If you or a loved one was injured in a ski accident or snowboard accident, call Zinda Law Group at (800) 863-5312 for a 100% free case evaluation with one of our Fort Worth ski accident lawyers. Our clients pay nothing unless we win their case. That is our No Win, No Fee Guarantee.
Meetings with attorneys are available by appointment only.