Each winter, millions of people hit the slopes on their skis and snowboards in search of excitement and adventure. And although most recreational skiers and snowboarders are aware that these sports can be dangerous, most do not recognize the extent of the inherent dangers involved.
Although you take precautions to minimize the chance of being involved in a skiing or snowboarding accident, unfortunately you depend on the conduct of others on the slope. The inconsiderate, reckless, and even negligent behavior of other skiers and snowboarders is a major contributor to skiing and snowboarding accidents.
However, there are numerous other threats on the slopes that can quickly turn an enjoyable winter escape into a nightmare. While operators of ski slopes are responsible for instructing their employees on proper safety precautions, the risk of incurring an accident cannot be entirely eliminated.
While each ski accident is unique, following are some of the more common types of accidents:
- Collision cases – in most of these, a skiers or snowboarders will sue one another
- Ski lift cases – these may occur due to an error by a lift attendant or to the unsafe design, manufacture, maintenance or operation of a ski lift
- Fall cases – the cause of the injury is often an improperly designed, marked, maintained or groomed slope
- Instructor cases – a ski or snowboard instructor negligently places a student in a situation that is beyond his or her ability to prevent an injury or accident
- Vehicle cases – a ski area’s snow cat, snowmobile or other vehicle is involved in an accident on the slope or in an adjacent public area
- Equipment cases – injury is caused by equipment failure, more often than not, a failure of bindings to release
Ski safety legislation varies from state to state and is frequently reinterpreted by their courts. Most statutes began by not holding ski area operators liable for dangers considered “inherent” to skiing. But the definition of and the process for determining how to interpret these “inherent dangers” vary widely. And the duty of care skiers owe one another generally remains in dispute.
For the above reasons, it becomes vitally important to seek an attorney who has successfully handled skiing and snowboarding accidents in the jurisdiction in which you or a loved one has suffered a skiing accident. Of course, it is preferable to avoid an accident to begin with. You and your loved ones can increase your chances of doing so by taking the following precautions:
- Wear a helmet
- Take ski lessons
- Always stay in control. Be able to stop or avoid others (people ahead of you have the right of way)
- Do not stop where you obstruct a trail or can’t be seen from above
- When you merge into a trail or start downhill, first look uphill and yield to others
- Observe all posted signs and warnings
- Keep your equipment professionally maintained. Keep your bindings functioning, clean, and in the DIN recommended for you.
- Use devices to prevent runaway equipment
- Wear proper clothing and eyewear
- Bring along a first aid kit, whistle, medications you may need, a space blanket, your cell phone and a ski area map
- Avoid skiing alone, specially in larger ski areas
- Ski sober
- Do not listen to music through a headset
- Become familiar with how to safely load onto, ride, and unload from a ski lift
- Report unsafe conditions and behavior, including that by ski area operators, to the management of the ski area
If you or a loved one has been injured in a ski or snowboard accident, please browse our directory for a list of experienced ski accident attorneys.