Have you ever been skiing or snowboarding? Many people enjoy these activities for the excitement, exercise, and recreation they provide. Furthermore, unseasonably warm weather has made it the perfect time for first timers to hit the slopes without fear of frostbite. The powder may be artificial but the fun is real. Unfortunately, so is the danger. Crowded, poorly maintained slopes or negligent skiers and staff can lead to serious injury. We’ve put together a brief primer on your options in the event of a skiing or snowboarding injury.
Whatever your level of experience, safety should always be your first priority before embarking on a ski or snowboard trip. Some safety best practice for skiers and snowboarders include:
So let’s say you’ve been involved in an accident of some kind while skiing and suffered an injury. This theoretical injury can happen a variety of ways. But as a universal rule, the mere presence of an injury does not imply legal liability. In almost all sports-injury cases, it must be determined that an individual or group was at fault for your injury in order to pursue damages.
Let’s begin with the most obvious possible injury scenario: say another skier or snowboarder collides into or runs over you. If it can be determined that the other skier or snowboarder was behaving in a unsafe manner, they may be held liable under your state’s negligence standard for skiers and snowboarders. Keep in mind that this is handled on a state by state basis. Your state’s negligence standard may be looser or stricter than another’s. Some states don’t even have a negligence standard and instead adjudge whether conduct resulting in injury can be considered reckless behavior. For instance: if an experienced skier travels down a beginner graded slope at high speed and runs into one of them, this can be considered recklessness.
But what if there aren’t any other skiers involved in an accident leading to injury? Oftentimes snow-sport injuries are caused by negligence on the part of the ski resort itself rather than any individual. The vast majority of people hoping to hit the slopes will rent their gear from the resort. If they’ve failed to properly maintain their equipment or hand out under or oversized equipment to patrons, it can lead to serious injury. Some gear may have also been defectively manufactured, if equipment staff fail to detect these defects and issue the defective equipment to patrons, this may also be considered negligence.
Furthermore, ski resorts and other snow sporting venues are under a duty of care to maintain chairlifts, gondolas, and other means of transportation from the bottom to the top of their hills. Failure to keep these lifts in proper working order or stop their operation during suspected malfunctions constitutes gross negligence and can lead to serious injury for innocent riders.
Many ski resorts require patrons to sign liability waivers upon purchase of a lift pass or gear rental. While this presents an obvious hurdle to recovering damages in the event of an injury, waivers are not universal protection against personal injury lawsuits. A simple liability waiver by no means airtight. It also does not excuse gross negligence on the part of the staff or facility. Our full explanation of waivers can be found elsewhere on our blog.
One less obvious danger area at a ski resort is the lodge. Most facilities offering ski and snowboard hills will have a central lodge where personal effects can be deposited and patrons can rest. Given the high foot traffic, fatigued skiers, and constantly-melting snow and ice; it’s common for these areas to become slip and fall hazards. Failure to notify patrons of wet floor hazards can constitute negligence.
The dark, cold winter months can be a depressing time for many. But there’s excitement and enrichment to be found for those willing to brave the elements. Malloy Law Offices hopes that first timers and veteran skiers alike can share the slopes safely. But if you or a loved one has been injured while skiing or snowboarding as a result of another’s negligence, our experienced attorneys are here for you. Our team will evaluate your case free of charge and pursue maximum damages on your behalf. Contact Malloy Law today to get started.