Determining Fault IN Skier Versus Skier Accidents

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Going skiing or snowboarding may be a fun and thrilling activity.  However, the slopes are also dangerous places, and these activities could result in serious injuries after an accident.  Whether another skier collides with you, or you are injured on a faulty ski lift, you may find yourself struggling to recover while figuring out how to pay for any medical bills or other expenses.

If you or a loved one has been injured in a skiing or snowboarding accident, you should contact an experienced personal injury attorney from Zinda Law Group at (800) 863-5312 today for a free consultation. If we are not able to win your case, you will not owe us anything.

HOW TO DETERMINE FAULT IN A SKIING ACCIDENT

Not every collision between skiers may be enough for a lawsuit.  First, you must be able to establish who was at fault by showing negligent behavior by the other skier.  In other words, if the other skier, or snowboarder, failed to ski, or snowboard, in a reasonably safe manner and then crashed into you, they may be at fault for the collision and thus liable for any injuries you suffered.  When proving who is at fault in a skiing accident, the Skier Responsibility Code may be a good place to begin.  This set of guidelines created by the ski industry is designed to promote safe skiing and is generally posted throughout ski areas.  These guidelines include key provisions such as:

  • People ahead of the skier always have the right of way, and each skier has a responsibility to avoid colliding with skiers in front of them.
  • Skiers must always be in control and be able to avoid colliding with other people or objects.
  • Skiers must always look uphill and yield to others when starting downhill or merging onto a trail.
  • Skiers must not obstruct a trail when stopping and should not stop where the skier will not be visible from above.

Evidence that the other skier may have violated any of these guidelines may be used to prove negligence on their part for the collision. Further, an experienced ski accident liability lawyer may be able to determine blame in a skiing accident by reconstructing the accident based on the nature of the injuries, which may indicate the relative angles of each skier to each other as well as the relative speed at which the skiers were going down the slope.

Learn More: Ski Accident FAQs With Attorney John Rogers

WHO CAN BE AT FAULT IN A SKIING ACCIDENT

Another Skier

If another skier crashed into you, they may be liable for your injuries if they were negligent or reckless. Further, some states, such as Colorado, presume that the uphill skier may be at fault for any skiing accident as the uphill skier has a duty to avoid any skiers below, while other states require all skiers to exercise “reasonable care” in avoiding collisions with the uphill skier being required to yield to those below. As a result, determining which skier may be at fault for a collision may often first focus on which skier was the “uphill” skier overtaking the skier below.

Ski Resort/Mountain

Generally, the other skier may be at fault for your skiing accident.  However, in some cases, the ski resort may be liable if your injuries were caused by improperly maintained slopes.  The ski resort may also be liable if the slopes were poorly marked or designed.  If the slope had any misleading signage or the resort failed to meet any applicable signage or notice requirements or failed to meet applicable tramway compliance, the resort may be held liable.  Importantly, many resorts may attempt to have you sign liability waivers before you ski, protecting the resort from lawsuits in the event you are injured.  If you have been injured in an accident, you should speak to a personal injury attorney who may review such waivers to determine whether you may be able to still pursue a claim against the resort.

Manufacturers

In some cases, your injuries may have been caused by defective skis or snowboards, or other dangerous or defective products, such as a defective chair lift.  If your accident or injuries were caused by a defective product, the manufacturer of the product may be liable for your injuries.  Further, the distributor or retailer that sold the product may also be liable due to their participation in the supply chain for the defective product.

HOW CAN I PROVE NEGLIGENCE?

Most personal injury lawsuits after a skiing accident are based on negligence.  Thus, when determining who is liable in a skiing accident, you will generally need to prove the other party, such as the other skier, was at-fault for the accident by proving the elements of negligence:

1. Duty of Care

The first element you will generally need to satisfy in a negligence claim is the duty of care.  You must typically show that the other party owed a duty of care to you, such as another skier’s duty of care to avoid accidents and to yield to downhill skiers.

2. Breach of Duty

Next, you will need to show that the other party breached this duty of care, such as by selling defective skis or skiing while intoxicated.  Even if the other party owed you a duty of care, if you are not able to show that this duty of care was ever breached, you may not be able to successfully seek compensation from the other party.  In ski accidents, proving the other party breached the duty of care may often be difficult if there were no witnesses or clear evidence of negligent behavior.

3. Causation

After showing that the other party owed you a duty of care and breached this duty, you will next need to prove that this negligent behavior actually caused the accident and your injuries.  If the accident would have happened regardless of whether the other party was negligent, it may be much more difficult to pursue compensation.

4. Damages

Finally, you will need to prove that you suffered any injuries or damages in the accident.  Your medical expenses may often be crucial in satisfying this element.  You should also be sure to take videos and pictures immediately after the accident that may also prove that your injuries were suffered in the accident.

Read More: How to Calculate the Value of a Case 

HOW TO DETERMINE THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A RECKLESS SKI INCIDENT AND A SIMPLE SKI ACCIDENT

“Simple ski accidents,” such as where neither skier was acting negligently or recklessly, often result in neither skier being at fault for the collision.  Thus, it is important to know the difference between a simple ski accident and a crash caused by recklessness.  Some behavior may be more easily defined as recklessness, such as skiing while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.  In cases where more extreme behavior such as intoxicated skiing is present, liability may be clearer.  However, your attorney may be able to use additional evidence gathered from an investigation, such as any witness statements, to prove the other skier’s behavior was reckless, leading to the collision which caused your injuries. 

HOW MAY AN ATTORNEY HELP ME?

Skiing and snowboarding injury lawsuits may be complicated, especially given the difficulty of proving the other skier’s fault in some accidents.  However, by hiring an experienced ski accident lawyer, you may be much better positioned to successfully pursue any compensation you may be entitled to.  Our experienced attorneys understand the specific local or state laws or regulations that often apply to these personal injury cases.

If you have been injured in a skiing accident, you should consult a skiing accident liability lawyer as soon as possible to better understand your legal options, while also taking other steps, such as:

Investigation

Your attorney may often begin by investigating your accident and gathering as much evidence as possible to support your claim.  This evidence may include gathering witness statements, any available photographs of the scene of the accident and the skis or snowboards involved in the accident as well as any other equipment involved.  If faulty equipment may have been involved, such as a defective ski lift, your attorney may also research whether there may have been previous accidents involving the equipment, complaints made to the ski resort or party responsible for maintaining the equipment, and similar measures that may help prove liability for your injuries. 

Negotiating with the Insurance Company

One of the most significant reasons you may need an attorney after being injured in a skiing accident is to help level the playing field against the insurance company.  Insurance companies often have teams of lawyers whose sole purpose is to make sure the insurer pays as little as possible to victims such as yourself.  Your ski accident attorney may negotiate with the insurer on your behalf, using evidence gathered during the investigation to support your claim.  Both sides may exchange offers and counteroffers until an acceptable settlement is reached.

Trial

However, if the insurer refuses to agree to a settlement, your attorney may then take your case to trial to prove the other party’s liability for the accident and your injuries.  Here, your lawyer may present available evidence to the jury which will usually decide whether the other party was at fault for the accident as well as how much compensation, if any, you are entitled to.

GET HELP FROM A SKI ACCIDENT LIABILITY LAWYER TODAY

At Zinda Law Group, our personal injury attorneys may be able to help you determine who was liable in your collision with another skier. Our attorneys have years of experience helping our clients seek the maximum compensation after they or a loved one was injured in a skiing or snowboarding accident. 

Call (800) 863-5312 today for a free consultation with one of our experienced personal injury attorneys. You will not pay anything unless we can win your case.  That’s our No Win, No Fee Guarantee.

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