Each year as the snow blankets the peaks, ski slopes buzz with enthusiasts eager to carve through the fresh powder, and snowboarders set out to master their latest tricks. However, amid the excitement and adrenaline, there’s an element of risk that can’t be ignored. Accidents happen, and when they do, they can leave even the most experienced skiers and snowboarders facing severe injuries that can have lasting consequences.
Whether due to a collision, equipment failure, or unsafe trail conditions, knowing your rights and options in the event of an injury is essential. This post aims to shed light on the often-overlooked aspect of winter sports—the legal avenues available to those injured amid the snowy escapades.
Common Skiing and Snowboarding Injuries
With high speeds, unpredictable terrain, and the chill of winter, skiers and snowboarders are at risk of various injuries, such as:
- Fractures: The impact from falls or collisions can lead to broken bones, with the most common fractures occurring in the legs, arms, and wrists.
- Knee Injuries: Ligament tears, such as ACL or MCL tears, are prevalent due to the twisting motions and sudden changes in direction that both skiing and snowboarding demand.
- Head Injuries: Concussions or more severe traumatic brain injuries can occur from falls or collisions, especially if a helmet is not worn.
- Spinal Injuries: The spine can suffer from strains, sprains, or even fractures and dislocations, which may result in temporary or permanent disability.
- Shoulder Dislocations: A fall onto an outstretched arm or a direct hit can dislocate the shoulder, leading to intense pain and the need for medical intervention.
- Wrist and Ankle Sprains: Common among beginners and experienced riders alike, these injuries are often caused by bracing during a fall.
- Frostbite and Hypothermia: Exposure to cold temperatures without adequate protection can lead to these conditions, which, while not directly related to falls or collisions, are a serious risk in winter sports.
In the event of an injury on the slopes, it’s not only crucial to seek immediate medical attention but also to understand who potentially has legal liability for your injury.
Whether you’re a seasoned athlete or a novice, knowing the types of injuries that can occur is the first step in advocating for your safety and preparing for the possibility of needing to take legal action to get compensation. If such an unfortunate incident does happen, remember that Great West Injury Law is here to provide the support and guidance needed to navigate the legal battle that may follow.
Resort Liability, Waivers, and Negligence
If you’re injured at a ski resort, you may be wondering about your legal options. This requires an understanding of the delicate balance between waivers signed by participants and the responsibilities of the resorts.
When purchasing a lift ticket or season pass, individuals often sign liability waivers that may appear to absolve resorts from responsibility for accidents. However, these waivers are not an impenetrable shield against all forms of liability, especially in cases of negligence or failure to ensure safe conditions.
Resorts are obligated to maintain a reasonable duty of care. This means they must manage and mitigate risks that could foreseeably lead to accidents by:
- Marking hazards
- Maintaining equipment like chairlifts and towropes
- Ensuring that trails are appropriately graded and free of unnecessary dangers
When a resort neglects these duties, and an injury occurs as a direct result, the waiver may not fully protect the resort from being held accountable.
Furthermore, equipment rental shops associated with resorts must also ensure their gear is in good condition. If an injury can be traced back to poorly maintained rental equipment, the path to a personal injury claim may open despite a waiver that the victim has signed.
In any incident, the key to establishing resort liability lies in a thorough investigation and clear documentation of the conditions leading to the injury. Legal claims must articulate how the resort’s actions or negligence contributed to the accident.
Important Steps to Take After an Injury
- Seek Medical Attention: Prioritize your health and safety by seeking immediate medical attention. Not only is this critical for your well-being, but medical records serve as essential evidence in documenting the extent and cause of your injuries.
- Report the Incident: Inform ski patrol or resort management about the accident as soon as possible. Ensure an official report is filed, and request a copy for your records, as this can be vital information for any legal action.
- Gather Evidence: If possible, take photographs of the accident scene, including any hazards that may have contributed to the injury.
- Preserve Equipment: Keep the equipment you were using at the time of the accident in the same condition it was post-incident.
- Document Your Experience: Start a journal detailing your injuries, medical treatments, and how the injury impacts your daily life.
- Avoid Immediate Settlements: Be wary of early settlement offers from insurance companies. They may not reflect the full extent of your current and future medical needs, pain and suffering, or lost wages.
- Consult an Attorney: Contact a personal injury attorney with experience in skiing and snowboarding accidents. They can provide you with a clear understanding of your legal rights and the potential for compensation.
Great West Injury Law Is Standing By
While the slopes offer exhilarating experiences, the risks cannot be ignored, and understanding your legal options in the event of an injury is important. The guidance of a personal injury attorney in such circumstances is invaluable.
At Great West Injury Law, we’re dedicated to helping those injured in skiing and snowboarding accidents understand their rights and explore their legal options. Reach out to us today for a free consultation.