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In these truly unprecedented times, many people are wondering about the legal consequences of COVID-19.
Due to COVID-19, many companies have implemented new restrictions for the 2021 ski season. By choosing to ski in the current times, athletes may be unknowingly exposed to COVID-19. Thus, it is important that skiers and snowboarders know about some of the new restrictions and their options if they sustain COVID-related injuries.
What Is the Risk of COVID for Skiers and Snowboarders?
Regardless of the specifics, engaging in any public activity puts an individual at risk of catching COVID. As coronavirus cases continue to climb, health concerns and travel restrictions may make it difficult for skiers and snowboarders to venture out to the slopes this year.
According to health experts, the safest option is to stay home this winter. However, choosing a ski destination carefully may help lower safety risks for those planning on venturing out anyway. As some areas in the country continue to control their rates, others have successfully implemented safety policies to help control their spread.
Fortunately, according to Dr. Selenke, a county medical director, skiing is considered a low-risk and low-transmission activity because of the isolated nature of the sport. Therefore, while experts still advise people to keep their distance, skiing can be relatively safe, as long as the proper safety measures are followed. These safety measures may seem expansive to some, but have proven beneficial in a variety of settings.
WHAT IS THE EFFECT OF COVID-19 ON SKIING?
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, ski resorts and operators have been forced to create new guidelines to minimize the risk to their patrons. Specific guidelines vary depending on the city or state that you choose to visit. However, there are a few guidelines that are becoming increasingly popular in mountainous areas across the country:
1. Reservations May Be Necessary
Unlike previous years where skiers were able to head to the slopes on any given day, skiers in 2021 may be required to make a reservation for a particular date and time. Many companies are implementing reservation policies in an attempt to limit the number of skiers on the mountain at once. While some life-long athletes may find this inconvenient, this practice is already proving useful in protecting the health of employees, locals, and visitors alike. Notably, even season pass-holders may be required to make reservations ahead of time.
2. Face Masks May Be Required
In many places, visitors are required to wear face coverings in all indoor and outdoor public spaces, including in lift and gondola lines and on gondolas themselves. Typically, masks are not required when skiing, snowboarding, or dining; however, these individual rules may vary depending on location.
3. Public Areas May Be Socially Distanced
Public areas like restaurants, rest stops, and changing rooms may have maximum occupancy restrictions to limit the number of people in a specific area at once. Additionally, lifts and gondolas may be socially distanced as well. Individual ski areas will likely post their own specific queuing, loading, and riding guidelines so visitors may know what to expect before they decide to make the trip.
4. Contactless is the New Normal
Like many other attractions, most ski resorts have adopted more stringent cleaning and disinfection requirements for high-traffic areas. Additionally, many aspects of the skiing process are now performed with little direct interaction with third parties. Slope-goers are encouraged to bring contactless payment methods and perform much of their check-ins through online platforms.
5. Contact Tracing May Be an Option
In an attempt to alert skiers who have been exposed, some resorts are asking visitors to provide contact information to enable contact tracing should there be an outbreak at a particular location. Specific requirements may vary from state to state, as ski areas coordinate with local health departments to set individualized guidelines. Additionally, guidelines may change depending on the rate of coronavirus cases in the area.
Although these are some of the most common COVID-19 guidelines for the 2021 skiing season, some states may have different requirements based on their individualized needs. Thus, it may be beneficial to research your area’s regulations before visiting the slopes in the coming weeks.
What Happens If COVID Guidelines Were Not Followed?
Although most skiing towns have implemented some COVID guidelines for the coming season, these restrictions are likely to vary based on the area. Legal liability claims involving COVID are still developing throughout courts nationwide. As such, much of the legal groundwork for claims involving COVID has yet to be laid.
As the number of COVID cases grows across the country, cities and states are implementing more severe restrictions in an attempt to limit fatality rates. If COVID guidelines are not being followed at a particular skiing location, it is best to report it to the proper authority and avoid frequenting that location again. Notably, many jurisdictions now require that visitors report businesses that refuse to enforce city or state safety mandates. Thus, if you fail to report a business or even refuse to follow the guidelines yourself, you may face civil or criminal penalties, depending on the specifics of the situation.
In addition to reporting requirements, some states have imposed liability on companies or organizations that fail to protect their employees or patrons. If you experienced a skiing injury caused by COVID, it may be beneficial to retain an attorney to assess your legal options.
Read More: Why Hiring an Attorney Will Help Your Case
Can I File a Lawsuit If I Get COVID While Skiing?
Due to the unprecedented nature of COVID-19, legal liability for exposure remains uncertain. However, as the number of victims grows by the day, some courts are beginning to impose liability on businesses and companies who knowingly fail to enforce safety guidelines.
Depending on your jurisdiction, if you were injured by COVID while skiing, you may be entitled to some relief based on your situation. In several states, courts may hold a responsible party liable if you can prove that the company was grossly negligent or reckless in their taken safety measures.
Notably, some states do require that you prove that the company knowingly inflicted the harm, which may make a COVID claim more difficult to prove. However, these laws vary significantly by jurisdiction. Thus, it may be beneficial to obtain a professional opinion if you sustained any COVID-related injuries while skiing.
How Can I Prove Recklessness in COVID Guidelines?
Although it may not seem obvious, there may be a connection between a company’s COVID-19 policies and reckless conduct laws. Many jurisdictions have laws that punish organizations and their officers if their behavior indicates a reckless disregard for the safety of others.
The elements of these reckless conduct laws vary by state, but many have distinct similarities. Consequently, there are a few factors that may be considered if you wish to prove recklessness in a company’s COVID guidelines:
- Company’s level of knowledge
- Company’s preventative actions
- Company’s assessment of controls
- Company’s social distancing efforts
- Company’s employment policies
- Jurisdiction’s regulations
- Officials’ training and compliance efforts
Although none of the aforementioned factors are determinative on their own, many courts may require you to address them if you are attempting to prove recklessness in a company’s COVID guidelines. These factors may require extensive analysis and legal application. Thus, it may be increasingly beneficial to retain a personal injury attorney if you were injured by a ski resort’s reckless COVID guidelines.
Get Help from Our Personal Injury Lawyers
Claims involving COVID-19 are relatively new and, as a result, may require complex legal analysis. Despite the lack of precedent, if you or a loved one is a victim of a ski injury caused by COVID or reckless guidelines, you should contact a lawyer who handles personal injury lawsuits as soon as possible. A COVID ski injury attorney may be able to help you seek legal recourse for any damages related to your trip and evaluate the specific facts of your claim.
At Zinda Law Group, our injury lawyers have the knowledge and resources necessary to help you pursue the highest compensation possible. Our experienced personal injury attorneys help victims seek compensation for damages relating to injury and accident claims. Zinda Law Group may provide quality consultation on the best way to handle your case. The sooner you contact our office, the higher the likelihood that we will be able to assist you.
If you or a loved one has been injured by COVID while skiing, call Zinda Law Group at (800) 863-5312 for a free consultation with one of our ski injury lawyers. You don’t owe us anything unless we win your case. That’s our No Win, No Fee Guarantee. We remain fully operational during the COVID-19 crisis and are offering virtual consultations for the health and safety of our clients.
Meetings with attorneys are available by appointment only.