Skiing, snowboarding, and other winter sports are a favorite pastime for Boulder tourists and residents alike. While these types of activities are a thrill for many, they can also lead to devastating accidents and injuries, especially for those who are new to the slopes.
There is a lot of misinformation out there regarding who is liable when these events occur. This means that some injury victims may not know their rights when it comes to pursuing compensation for damages. If this is the case for you, we have some answers to your questions.
Below, we debunk some common ski accident liability myths.
Before you even step foot on the slopes, you probably have to sign a liability waiver. All ski resorts will require skiers to sign these documents, which greatly reduces their liability in the event that injuries are sustained during some sort of ski accident.
In the unfortunate event that you do actually sustain an injury while skiing, you may be thinking, “I can’t sue since I signed a waiver, right?” Well, not necessarily. When you sign a waiver from a ski operator, most of the time, you agree not to pursue legal action if you are injured from either the “inherent dangers” of the activity or negligence.
However, you may be able to recover damages if your injuries were caused by hazards that were not inherent dangers (in other words, these are dangers that you couldn’t possibly have known about unless you were made aware by the operator).
Some examples of these types of dangers include:
Parked heavy machinery around a blind corner
Collisions with moving equipment that was operated negligently by the driver
Improperly maintained trails
A majority of skiers are familiar with ski lifts as a means of transportation up the slopes. What they may not know is that falls from ski lifts are one of the most common types of ski accidents. Most of these injuries occur while a skier is getting on or off the lift.
It is the responsibility of the ski lift operator and its employees to make sure that people are safe while getting on, getting off, or riding the ski lift. If the resort fails to do this, it could mean that they acted recklessly and are legally responsible for injuries.
On the flip side of what we discussed above, some people believe that the ski resort is always at fault. On the contrary, many times, it is actually another skier who is at fault for an accident.
Skier-to-skier crashes are some of the most common types of ski accidents in Colorado. Skiers (including snowboarders and sledders) all have a legal obligation to:
Ski within their ability to maintain control
Follow trail signs
Maintain a lookout
When a skier does not act with this duty of care, they may collide with another individual on the slopes. Colorado usually finds that the “uphill” skier—that is, the one higher up on the mountain—has the primary responsibility to avoid the skier or boarder below them. If they fail to do this, they could be held liable for injuries caused to the other person in a skier-to-skier crash.
There are just a few instances where the ski resort could be held liable for certain ski accidents. In Colorado, a ski resort could be found to have acted negligently if its actions violate the terms of the Colorado Ski Safety Act.
If you did sign a liability waiver, showing negligence is not enough to overcome this legal document; instead, it must be shown that the ski operator acted recklessly. Reckless acts are defined as those where the safety of others is disregarded.
You may believe that you are the one that caused the ski accident; therefore, you aren’t entitled to pursue compensation for your injuries. However, it’s important to remember that fault is not as black and white as it may seem.
Even if you initially believe you are at fault for the ski accident, you may still be entitled to compensation. Before settling with the fact that you may have to pay for your damages, make sure to speak with a seasoned ski accident attorney who is familiar with these types of cases. This person will review key details of your case to determine what your legal options are at recovering damages.
After sustaining an injury, you may think that you don’t need an attorney. It seems like a pretty straightforward process, right? On the contrary, determining liability and pursuing compensation for your ski accident injuries can be a complicated process, especially if you’re attempting this on your own. Some common questions regarding ski accident liability include:
How did the accident occur?
Did the ski operator violate any terms of the Ski Safety Act?
Did the accident involve multiple skiers?
Did any of the ski operator employees act negligently?
As you can see, there are many moving parts when it comes to these cases. A skilled attorney with experience in ski law will work to answer these questions ad pursue compensation for those who should be held liable.
Many injury victims are under the impression that they can’t afford a lawyer. However, the attorneys at Klein Frank offer free case reviews and work on a contingency fee basis. This means that we don’t collect any legal fees unless we help win you compensation.
If you or a loved one is injured in a ski accident, the legal team at Klein Frank is here to provide you with the personalized and strategic legal representation that your case requires. Our attorneys, Carrie Frank and Beth Klein are dedicated to passionately advocating on behalf of injury victims.
We will leave no stone unturned as we work to identify liable parties, whether it be the ski resort or another negligent individual, and fight hard for the compensation you deserve and need to heal.
To get started on your case, contact Klein Frank at (303) 622-3876 to schedule your free case review!