When it comes to skiing in the United States, Colorado's bountiful offerings are essentially unrivaled. The top North American destination for enthusiasts of the winter sport, the state benefits from roughly $4.8 billion in ski-related economic impact annually, making up a major part of the region's recreation and tourism industries. While there can be little doubt about the tremendous fun and excitement skiers derive here each and every year, the fact is that a significant number of serious injury events also occur, leaving victims wondering how they will be able to move forward. Attorney Jeremy Rosenthal understands the profound impact ski accidents can have on those involved in them, and he pledges to fight for fair compensation and accountability from those deemed responsible for such harm.
Important Facts About Ski-Related Injuries
A common misconception among skiers in Colorado and elsewhere is that because skiing is in many respects an inherently risky activity, they will almost always unable to pursue financial compensation in the event they are injured. While there are certainly instances in which monetary recovery is not available due to the skier's own actions or decisions on the slopes, the fact remains that it is not uncommon for negligence on the part of others to form the basis of a valid personal injury lawsuit.
Ski Law in Colorado
Broadly speaking, Colorado's Ski Safety Act is a piece of legislation that was drafted primarily as a means of protecting ski resort operators from onerous litigation and liability claims. Pursuant to state law, skiers generally assume the risks of personal injury and damage to property that are inherent to the sport itself. The scope of these hazards is understood to encompass things such as inclement weather, rocks, tree outgrowths, stumps and an individual's decision to ski beyond his or her own capabilities.
Despite these protections, it is often possible for injured skiers to pursue compensation claims based on theories of negligence on the part of ski area operators and others involved in building or maintaining lifts, equipment and ski runs. The law in Colorado requires ski area personnel to property mark trails, ensure that snow grooming machinery is in safe working order, provide necessary warnings and operate lifts in such a way as to protect the safety of riders.
Furthermore, Colorado imposes obligations on skiers to ski within their own limits, be constantly aware of their surroundings, maintain safe and controlled speeds, steer clear of collisions with others, stay off of closed ski trails and keep a safe distance from grooming equipment. Failure to live up to these duties can result in liability on the part of those individuals for harm caused as a result, and their insurance carriers may be responsible for providing coverage for ensuing losses.
Common Accident Scenarios for Skiers
Given the high speeds and steep inclines involved, the circumstances in which ski-related injuries can occur are seemingly innumerable. However, there do seem to be some scenarios that occur with higher frequency than some might expect, and they include:
- defective equipment, whether owned or rented, including skis, poles and bindings
- improper maintenance of ski area, including failure to groom runs, mark hazardous areas or guard against exposure to avalanche conditions
- negligent instruction, including taking students into dangerous areas and asking students to perform maneuvers beyond their ability levels
- improper maintenance and negligent operation of ski lifts
- collisions with other skiers or stationary objects
Typical Injuries Sustained While Skiing
When poor visibility and high rates of speed combine on the slopes, the potential harm to unsuspecting skiers can be truly profound. The types of injuries regularly suffered by those engaged in the sport range from relatively minor to utterly catastrophic, encompassing thing such as:
- traumatic brain injuries
- bone fractures
- spinal cord injury leading to paralysis
- nerve damage
The fact of the matter is that skiing is simply riskier than a wide range of other sports and popular pastimes, and the harm suffered when things go wrong often reflects that reality. Therefore, when an exhilarating day on the slopes turns tragic, it is important for victims and their families to know that they may be eligible to receive substantial compensation to help with the challenges certain to lie ahead.
Compensation Potentially Available to Injured Skiers
Depending on the severity of the harm sustained in a ski accident, it may be possible for injured parties to recover a broad array of compensation types, including:
- the costs of medical care, both now and into the future
- payment for physical pain and suffering
- payment for emotional distress and trauma
- reimbursement for lost wages and limitations on future earning capacity
- lost enjoyment of previous lifestyle
- financial support for dependents in cases of death
Steps to Take Following a Ski Accident
As is always the case with personal injury matters, every ski-related accident is different and involves a series of unique facts which must be investigated to determine whether actionable negligence existed at the time of the event. To facilitate this review, it is wise for injury victims to do several things in the immediate aftermath of the accident, such as:
- obtain all necessary medical attention and treatment
- make a report to the area ski patrol or other relevant authorities
- obtain contact information for all parties involved in the event at issue
- secure any available witness statements
- take photographs of accident site, if possible
- retain torn, bloodied or damaged clothing and equipment
- begin keeping a journal of recollections, impressions, injuries and treatments received
- contact an attorney experienced in handling ski-related claims
Knowledgeable Advocacy for Winter Sports Accident Victims
Attorney Jeremy Rosenthal has built his career upon the notion that injury victims in Colorado deserve aggressive advocacy employed in tireless pursuit of maximum compensation. If you have suffered harm in a ski accident and believe that another party's negligence was to blame, there is no room for delay. To begin the process of exploring your legal options and initiating your quest for justice, contact us for a no-cost consultation by calling 303.825.2223.