It’s no surprise, considering our world-class slopes and snow fall, that skiing and snowboarding are among the most popular outdoor activities in many states across the U.S.. While many pursue these winter sports for fun and thrills, accidents do happen and can cause injuries.
Ski and snowboard cases can be complex and often involve issues that are not present in other injury cases like car crashes. These issues include determining who was at fault, assumption of risk, the effect of signed waiver forms, and insurance coverage. A ski accident attorney can help you determine whether your injuries resulted from someone else’s negligence and if you could benefit from seeking damages.
Common Ski and Snowboard Accidents
Even the most experienced skiers are vulnerable to accidents and injuries. No amount of skill or prudence can protect you from equipment failure or unmarked hazards. Here are some common accidents that lead to injuries in ski areas.
Collisions: There are typically three types of collisions that occur on ski slopes: a collision with a moving object, such as a runaway snowboard; a collision with a stationary object, like a pole or tree; or a collision with another skier. Each of these collision types is capable of inflicting serious injury and even death. With limited visibility and high speeds, these accidents can turn your fun outing into a tragic event in the blink of an eye.
Faulty equipment: Skiing and snowboarding gear is expensive, and many people choose to rent the equipment they need from the ski resort. If the equipment you rent, or even own, doesn’t properly function, your safety could be in danger. Oftentimes, boot straps that skiers and snowboarders rely on to stay connected to their skis and boards fail, and cause people to fall at dangerous speeds.
Ski instructor negligence: Safety should be at the forefront of a ski instructor’s mind and actions. Ski instructor negligence often occurs when an instructor leads a student or group into a dangerous area, or an area that requires advanced techniques beyond the ability of the students. In other instances, an instructor may encourage students to attempt something beyond their skill levels.
Ski area negligence: When you visit a ski resort as a guest, you trust that the area has been reasonably maintained to ensure the safety of you and your family. However, failure to groom the grounds, properly mark hazards or take adequate measures to secure against avalanches can put you at grave risk of injury.
Ski lift accidents: Falls from ski lifts are extremely dangerous and almost always cause severe injuries. There are several factors that can lead to a ski lift accident, including improper maintenance and negligent actions of the mechanism’s operator. A ski lift operator is responsible for adhering to weight limits and ensuring a proper speed which allows passengers to get on and off safely. Sometimes, the reckless actions of other ski lift passengers can contribute to an injury.
Common Ski and Snowboard Accident Injuries
As the popularity of skiing and snowboarding increases, so do the occurrences of injury. The precise number of ski-related injuries on slopes is unknown. Ski areas are not required to release death and injury statistics to the public. However, a recent Johns Hopkins study estimated that nearly 600,000 people suffer ski and snowboarding injuries each year.
Even when you exercise caution on the slopes, the risk of an accident is always present. Skiing involves high speeds and certain risk, which adds to the experience and thrill for many people. Unfortunately, the presence of other riders, poorly maintained runs and unmarked hazards can present unexpected dangers and lead to injuries such as:
- Sprained and broken bones
- Shoulder injuries
- Back and neck injuries
- Spinal cord injuries
- Brain injuries
Skiing is more dangerous than most popular sports. Many of the injuries suffered on ski slopes require extensive medical care and long-term rehabilitation. When an injury leads to a permanent disability, your ability to earn a wage and provide for your family can be forever altered. This can lead to an intense emotional strain.
In some tragic cases, skiing injuries result in death. Dealing with the loss of a loved one is never easy, especially if you know that your family member died because of someone’s carelessness or reckless actions. Beyond the emotional toll a sudden death can inflict, the unexpected financial burden of losing a key wage-earner can put a family in a frightening position.
Skiing is more dangerous than most popular sports. Many of the injuries suffered on ski slopes require extensive medical care and long-term rehabilitation.
Damages in a Ski or Snowboard Accident Claim
Our lawyers are committed to seeing your case through and pursuing full recovery of damages for:
- Medical expenses – both the initial cost and future treatment
- Loss of income and earning potential
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
- Loss of enjoyment
In the unfortunate event that you lost a family member to an insurmountable skiing injury, a wrongful death claim may be warranted. These cases are highly complex and require the skill of an experienced, compassionate attorney. While no amount of money can truly compensate you for the loss of a loved one, a successful resolution of your claim can help you continue to provide for your family and assist with medical and funeral costs.
Additional punitive damages are sometimes awarded to punish responsible parties for gross negligence or intentional actions of fraud or malice.
What to Do If You’ve Been Injured in a Skiing or Snowboarding Accident
The moments immediately following an accident can be hectic and confusing, but they are also the most important.
- Seek medical attention. Your initial priorities should be your well-being and the safety of those around you who may be injured.
- Report the accident to the ski patrol. Just like an auto crash, it’s critical to have your accident and subsequent injuries officially documented as quickly as possible. Usually, ski patrol or resort management will investigate the collision and prepare a report, but, they might not share it without legal representation.
- Obtain contact information. Get the names, addresses and phone numbers of everyone who was involved with the accident or may have witnessed it.
Preserve evidence. If you have your camera on you, take as many relevant pictures as possible. Preserve your ski or snowboard equipment before making any repairs. If your clothes are torn or bloodied by the accident, preserve those as well. Begin an accident journal and note as many details of the accident as you can remember. Also note any physical and emotional challenges that arise following your injury.