How to Move Forward After a Skiing or Snowboarding AccidentLast updated on: February 11, 2022
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I love skiing and snowboarding. These sports offer great opportunities for people of all levels to get some exercise, explore a new place, and have fun. I don’t get to ski nearly enough, but one thing I love about the sport is that I can make it as challenging (or as easy) as I want. As a skiing and snowboarding accident lawyer, I can both enjoy the sport and acknowledge the responsibilities that are necessary on the mountains.
While most skiers and snowboarders anticipate a good time every winter, they do assume a level of risk. Unfortunately, according to a Johns Hopkins study over the last decade, skiers and snowboarders sustain roughly 600,000 injuries per year. Some of these injuries are minor – think bruises and bumps. Others involve catastrophic collisions with other skiers or even chair lift malfunctions. When it comes to skier-snowboarder risks, the possibilities are endless.
If you just returned from a ski or snowboarding trip, or you’re preparing to take one soon, it’s important to know what to do in the event of an accident due to someone else’s negligence. In fact, there are quite a few tips I wish all skiers and snowboarders knew before they hit the slopes. When it comes to skiing and snowboarding, safety is paramount.
In fact, as a personal injury lawyer who has handled several ski accident cases, I want to know as much about an accident as possible when I meet with a client for the first time. Do they have pictures of the accident? What were the weather and mountain conditions? Did anyone witness the accident? These things (and so much more) are what race through my mind with a ski or snowboard accident case. Here’s how you can prepare to answer these questions if you are a skiing or snowboarding negligence victim:
The Basics of Skier-Snowboarder Responsibility
Before any of my clients or friends take a ski trip, I always tell them to be careful and have fun. Seems simple enough, right? Well, even the most experienced skiers and snowboarders can get in way over their heads. I’ve seen this too many times. Choosing the wrong course or forgetting even the simplest protocols can lead to devastating injuries, which is why all skiers and snowboarders need to know the National Ski Areas Association’s Responsibility Code.
The code outlines the following rules:
- Always stay in control and be able to stop or avoid other people or objects.
- People ahead of you have the right of way. It is your responsibility to avoid them.
- You must not stop where you obstruct a trail or are not visible from above.
- Whenever starting downhill or merging into a trail, look uphill and yield to others.
- Always use devices to help prevent runaway equipment.
- Observe all posted signs and warnings. Keep off closed trails and out of closed areas.
- Prior to using any lift, you must have the knowledge and ability to load, ride and unload safely.
Anything can happen while skiing or snowboarding. Remember, when you’re out enjoying winter sports, you have a duty to all the skiers and snowboarders on the mountain. Not following these rules can mean the difference between a fun vacation and a catastrophic getaway.
Learn More: Colorado Ski and Snowboard Accidents
Most Common Ski & Snowboard Accident Injuries
At Zinda Law Group, our team sees several different types of injuries that clients sustain after skiing or snowboarding. Here are the most common injuries sustained by clients for which we help pursue compensation:
Knee injuries, including sprains, are the most common skiing injuries. They typically occur when a skier overexerts his or her knee joints which can result in a sprain. Turning the wrong way, falling, or bearing excessive weight on the knees can also lead to injury. A lot of skiers and snowboarders wrap their knees or wear knee braces to reduce the likelihood of sustaining a severe knee injury on the slopes.
Ankle and Foot Injuries
Skiers often sustain ankle and foot injuries when they fall. If a skier falls when skis are bound to the feet, the skier may be placing excessive pressure on the ankles or feet. That’s why it is important for skiers to wear supportive ankle and foot gear to reduce the risk of injury.
Skiing accidents can also result in leg fractures. Collisions, falls, or other skiing accidents frequently cause leg fractures because, during the fall or collision, legs may bend in unnatural ways. In light of the increased risk for leg fractures, skiers must make sure their gear fits properly to reduce strain on the legs and prevent fractures when possible.
When a skiing accident occurs, skiers and snowboarders may also impinge or dislocate their shoulders. When a skier falls and their body weight overwhelms the shoulder, it could cause the upper bone of the arm to pop out of the socket that extends from the shoulder blade, otherwise known as shoulder dislocation. Meanwhile, shoulder impingement syndrome, which is inflammation in the shoulder caused by repeated rubbing and pinching of the rotator cuff tendons, can cause a significant pain and discomfort for skiers and snowboarders. Typically, shoulder impingement affects those who use ski poles repeatedly.
Next, wrist fractures are also very common ski and snowboarding injuries. Wrist fractures typically occur when a skier falls and attempts to catch themselves by cushioning the fall with their hands. The skier’s body weight, along with the weight of snow gear, can easily cause a fracture. To prevent wrist fractures, wear protective gear such as wrist braces to reduce the risk of a wrist injury if a fall or other type of skiing accident occurs.
Ski accidents can result in mild to severe head injuries and brain injuries. In fact, concussions, skull fractures, internal bleeding of the brain, and other traumatic brain injuries can all result from skiing and snowboarding crashes. Wearing a helmet when skiing or snowboarding reduces the risk of a head injury by as much as 60%.
Neck and Spinal Injuries
Spinal injuries are less common than other types of injuries sustained while skiing or snowboarding, but these injuries can be quite severe. Spinal injuries typically occur after a collision with a solid object, such as a tree or a large rock. Falls can also result in spinal injuries. An injury to the spinal column has an associated risk of paralysis including paraplegia and quadriplegia.
Hand injuries tend to be less serious than most injuries suffered by skiers and snowboarders, but it’s still important to take precautions when possible. Hand and finger fractures often result from falling, but they can be treated with proper splinting. For example, “skiers thumb” occurs when a skier falls while the ski pole strap is still attached to their hand, causing a tear in a thumb ligament. This type of injury can make it difficult to grasp objects and can lead to more severe consequences if not treated.
Read More: How Common are Ski Injuries?
Who Can You Sue After a Skiing or Snowboarding Collision?
Typically, a ski crash or snowboarding accident occurs at a ski resort or lodge. When people get hurt, they often expect to be able to go after the resort, since that’s where the accident took place. However, the Colorado Ski Safety Act clarified that there are certain inherent risks that skiers and snowboarders assume when they hit the slopes. If someone gets hurt while doing something that falls within these inherent risks, they probably can’t make a claim against the ski operator. However, if someone gets hurt after the operator failed to mark hazardous conditions or properly maintain equipment, then someone may have a claim against the operator.
Most of the time, injured skiers and snowboards hire ski accident lawyers at an injury law firm to help them bring a claim against the homeowner’s or renter’s insurance policy of the other person involved in the crash. I help ski and snowboard accident victims identify the policy that covers their accident. Sometimes, this requires me to call a list of insurance providers to determine who covers the accident. Then, I work with my clients to get witness statements to use to support the injury claim. That’s why it’s so important for injury victims to call snowboard and ski accident lawyers. We may help you get in touch with the right people so that you can bring a successful claim.
What to Do After a Skiing Collision or Snowboard Crash
If you’re planning on partaking in ski season this year, it’s important to stay vigilant. Anything can happen and knowing what to do after an accident will make your recovery much easier. Here’s what to do immediately after a snowboarding or skiing accident:
1. Seek Medical Attention
When clients visit with me for the first time, I sometimes hear stories about how they were involved in an accident but didn’t think they were hurt until they felt severe back pain a few days later. Sometimes, when people are involved in a traumatic event, such as a skier injury, they avoid going to the doctor the day of the accident because they do not believe they are injured. If you are involved in an accident after a day on the slopes, make sure you visit a healthcare provider. Not only will this mitigate any further damage, it may also help you support your injury claim in the future.
2. Document the Snowboarding or Skiing Accident
After any sort of accident, it’s important to gather as much information as possible. As attorneys, we rely on any documents you have from the day of the incident, including an accident report. You’re probably wondering how to gather this information, so start with the basics:
- Write down the location of the accident.
- Take as many pictures as possible of the location of your ski trip, any injuries, and your surroundings. Note any important signs as well.
- Write down the contact information and address of the other person involved in the crash.
- Flag down any witnesses. You will likely need statements from them later on.
I tell clients this all the time, but a picture is worth 1,000 words, especially after a ski or snowboarding accident. Any evidence you obtain could help immensely in a claim for damages, so remember to document the scene thoroughly. Most of the time, we’ve been able to get insurance coverage for our clients with just a contact name and phone number.
3. Contact an Experienced Team of Ski Accident Attorneys
When people are involved in ski or snowboarding accidents, they often don’t know where to start. There are a few reasons for this. First, the accident usually occurs in a location where neither party lives. This makes it even harder for people to track down the information they need. Second, they don’t know who may be liable for their injuries or how to investigate these cases.
Once we obtain the name and number of the parties involved, as well as any pictures of the incident, we investigate and track down the appropriate insurance company for the claim. I’ve once called a list of 15-20 insurance companies to find the right one for compensation. Then, I call the ski lodge or resort to obtain any helpful statements about the accident. As you can see, you need an experienced personal injury lawyer to walk you through this process, as it can be very intimidating for someone who has never handled a case like this before.
Ski and snowboarding accidents can be traumatic, leaving victims wondering what to do next. You need someone in your corner ready to speak with insurance companies and work with you to pursue maximum compensation. At Zinda Law Group, we offer free case evaluations. Plus, you don’t pay anything unless we win your case. If you need help from an experienced snowboard and ski accident attorney, call us today.
Joe Caputo is a partner at Zinda Law Group, where he handles cases involving catastrophic personal injury, wrongful death, automobile and trucking accidents, premises liability, product injury, and more. Over the years, he has helped many accident victims get their lives back on track after suffering an injury. Joe has been selected as one of the 10 Best Attorneys for Client Satisfaction in Texas by the American Institute of Personal Injury was named to the Top 40 Under 40 list published by the National Trial Lawyers. Moreover, he is a lifetime member of the Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum, a distinction held by less than one percent of attorneys nationwide. He is licensed in Colorado and Texas.