Even as temperatures along the Front Range have soared into unseasonably warm ranges recently, it’s still the heart of ski season in Colorado, which means bluebird days spent cruising groomers, early morning wakeup calls to get fresh turns on a powder day and, unfortunately, collisions and other accidents that can turn a fun day on the hill into a nightmare.
The Colorado Ski Safety Act does a lot to protect ski areas from liability when a skier or snowboarder is injured, or even killed on the slopes, but it doesn’t do a lot to protect the individuals who are hurt despite no fault of their own. That’s because, according to the Act, skiing comes with inherent dangers and risks. According to this Colorado law, “a skier assumes the risk of any injury to person or property resulting from any of the inherent dangers and risks of skiing.”
Personal injury cases that arise from skiing and snowboarding accidents hinge on being able to prove negligence, which is the failure to act with reasonable care. In a nutshell, you must be able to prove that someone else’s carelessness resulted in your injury.
When you purchase a ski pass, you sign a waiver releasing the resort’s liability in the event of an accident, which makes it difficult to sue a ski resort for negligence. Of course, there are some exceptions, especially if you are injured while using a chairlift, but most personal injury cases resulting from ski/snowboard accidents involve a collision between skiers/snowboarders where one party’s negligence caused the accident.
When trying to determine whether another person is at fault for a ski/snowboard accident, consider the Skier and Snowboarder Responsibility Code, which is posted in multiple places throughout a ski area and is incorporated into Colorado’s Ski Safety Act. The guidelines in this code state:
- 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.
If you suspect the skier/snowboard who hit you violated one of these guidelines, then you may have evidence of negligence.
While your first priority following a collision, or other accident on the ski hill, should be to seek medical attention for any injuries, the next should be to retrieve and preserve any evidence. Ask friends or family members to take photos of the scene from multiple angles, like you would after a car accident. Also ask them to collect the names and contact information of anyone who witnessed the collision. Save any paperwork given to you by ski patrol, like witness cards, as well as any medical paperwork, your ski pass from that day and the equipment you were using when the collision occurred.
Next, you should speak with a personal injury attorney, like those at Robinson & Henry, P.C., who can help you determine whether you have a case and, if so, will fight on your behalf. Damages paid in ski accident personal injury cases may include the value of medical bills, any lost earnings and pain and suffering associated with the accident.
If you’ve been in a ski/snowboard accident, call Robinson & Henry today to get started with a free initial consultation.