The last thing you want to think about on a powder day is an injury, but skiing and snowboarding are undeniably risky. Ski and snowboard accidents can cause sprains, broken bones, and even catastrophic injuries, such as brain or spinal cord damage.
While it is true that Colorado ski resorts are largely protected from lawsuits, if a resort fails to meet the required safety standards or if you are injured by another skier, you may be able to sue the negligent party for damages. If you are injured on the slopes in Colorado, the personal injury attorneys at the Frickey Law Firm can help you navigate your options for recovering damages.
The Ski Safety Act of 1979
The Ski Safety Act of 1979 defines skier and ski area operator responsibilities. If a skier or ski area operator is negligent in upholding the requirements detailed in the Act, legal action may be warranted to recover damages for injuries caused as a result. It is important to note that the term “skier” applies to skiers, snowboarders, sledders, snowbikers, and anyone using any of the ski area facilities.
Ski Area Operator Responsibilities
If a ski area operator fails to meet the standards of the Ski Safety Act and you suffer an injury as a result, you may have grounds to sue the resort. The following are some of the requirements ski area operators must meet.
Warning of Inherent Risks
Ski area operators must provide a warning of the inherent risks of skiing with every lift ticket available for purchase. Inherent risks are considered to be dangers over which the resort has no control, such as:
- Snow conditions
- Weather conditions
- Natural obstacles such as rocks and trees
- The behavior of other skiers
This warning states that:
“Under 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 and may not recover from any ski area operator for any injury resulting from any of the inherent dangers and risks of skiing…”
Required Maintenance, Signs, and Warnings
Ski area operators are required to maintain chairlifts, gondolas, and other equipment so as to prevent injuries to skiers. The Ski Safety Act also requires various signs and warnings to be posted in lift loading and unloading areas. Some required chairlift signs include:
- Keep Ski Tips Up
- Remove Pole Straps from Wrists
- Prepare to Unload
- Check for Loose Clothing and Equipment
Warnings must also be posted where applicable to advise skiers of:
- Extreme terrain
- Degree of difficulty of the trail
- Dangerous areas
- Trail boundaries
- Closed trails
- Maintenance in progress
Per the Ski Safety Act, skiers are also obligated to follow certain safety measures to prevent injury to themselves and others. This means that while a ski area operator may not be held liable for the behavior of skiers, if a skier is negligent or reckless and injures you, you may be able to sue that person. Some skier duties listed in the Act include:
- Ski within the limits of his or her skills and abilities
- Control his or her speed to the extent that other skiers and objects can be avoided
- Ski within trail boundaries
- Heed posted warnings
- Ski unimpaired by alcohol or controlled substances
What Happens if I’m Injured by Another Skier?
As with any injury, your first priority is your health and safety. Do not attempt to continue down the mountain if you are in pain or if you think you may have a concussion. Send a friend or witness to alert ski patrol of the accident. Ski patrol will be able to assist you in descending the mountain if you are injured. If possible to safely do so,
- Document the scene of the collision
- Exchange contact information with the person who injured you (the Act prohibits a skier involved in an injury-causing collision from leaving the scene without providing his or her name and address to a ski patrol member or employee of the ski area)
- Gather information from witnesses
- Call the Frickey Law Firm
The team at the Frickey Law Firm can walk you through the best actions to take in order to secure maximum compensation. You may be entitled to damages for your medical treatment, lost wages, and pain and suffering.
Call Us for a Free Consultation
Whether a faulty chairlift, unmarked obstacle, or other skier caused your injury, we can help you hold the negligent party responsible. Call us at 303-237-7373 for a complimentary case evaluation. We serve clients in Lakewood, Golden, Boulder, Denver, and the surrounding areas of Colorado.