Tis’ the season to bundle up, grab your skis or board, and hit the slopes! In Vermont, skiing is a normal part of life, it fills up those long winter days with outdoor fun and rosy cheeks. But as every mountain go-er knows, skiing and snowboarding can be very dangerous.
Icy trails, mist, inexperienced skiers, and reckless behavior can cause serious injury, sometimes even death. In some crashes, the other skier may be at fault, and you may be able to receive compensation for your injuries.
Most common ski and snowboard injuries and what causes them
Accidents do happen, and the results can range from mild injury, broken bones, and sprained or torn muscles, to a severe, life-altering head and spinal injuries, and even death. As more people are picking up skiing, and the sport itself is getting more intense, with higher speeds and more dangerous jumps, there has been a massive increase in traumatic brain and spinal cord injury due to accidents on the slopes. Here are the most common causes of mountain-related injuries:
- Colliding with other skiers or snowboarders
- Hitting or falling onto or stationary objects such as rocks, trees, fences, signs, and barriers
- Chair lift accidents
- Inadequate instructions from instructors, and
- Improperly adjusted or malfunctioning ski and snowboard equipment.
Negligence and how to prove it in skiing and snowboarding accidents
Negligence is defined as “failure to use reasonable care, resulting in damage or injury to others.” This means that your injury has to be caused by the ski mountain or another person taking uncareful action to injure you, and if you want to win your case, you must be able to prove this. Examples of negligence include another skier colliding with you while they are skiing carelessly or recklessly, a ski instructor leading you into unsafe terrain or a trail beyond your skill level, and/or poorly marked trails or un-maintained terrain.
A good place to start with proving negligence is with the Skier Responsibility Code, this is a set of guidelines skiers learn that teaches them how to act safely on the mountain. It can be found posted in many places around the ski mountain, from the chair lift to your ski ticket. The most relevant clauses are:
- Stay in control, and be able to stop or avoid people and objects.
- The people in front of you have the right of way, it is your responsibility to be aware of them and avoid colliding with them.
- Do not stop in a place where you will obstruct the trail or are not visible from above.
- Just like joining the flow of traffic, whenever starting down a trail or merging with another trail, look uphill and yield to those coming down.
If a skier has broken one of these guidelines and it has resulted in another being injured, they will most likely be held accountable for the accident.
What is the “assumption of risk” argument?
Skiing and snowboarding are sports known to entail potentially dangerous situations. Because of this inherent risk, in a personal injury case, the defendant in the case, usually the ski resort or the person that hit you, may try to invoke the “assumption of risk” defense. This means that because you knew that there was an inherent risk in participating in this outdoor activity, the other party can not be held accountable for your injuries and will not need to provide you with compensation.
Preserving Evidence after a collision
After a ski accident involving a collision and another skier, it is important to gather as much evidence of what happened as you can. It may be difficult if you are injured, but if you are skiing with friends or family, have them take photos of the scene. Make sure the photos are from above, below, and directly at the scene.
If possible take photos of the injuries themselves and the ski tracks leading up to the collision. This evidence may help you in proving the other party was at fault.
Damages in Vermont
After a ski accident, Vermonters may be entitled to reimbursement for damages. The most common damage awards in Vermont include:
- Medical Expenses: If you have sustained a serious injury after a ski or snowboarding accident, chances are that you will have to pay some expensive medical bills. If you are to win your personal injury claim involving a ski accident, these costs may be reimbursed or paid by the other party or their insurance company.
- Lost Wages: After sustaining serious injury from an accident, you will most likely be unable to work while you heal up. The party at fault for your injuries may be required to reimburse you for your lost income.
- Pain and suffering: You can be repaid for both physical and mental injuries resulting from a ski accident. Make sure to work with an experienced professional who can properly showcase how the accident negatively impacted your life.
- Lost consortium: Depending on the case, you may be able to receive compensation if your spouse has been adversely impacted by your accident.
If you have been in a ski or snowboard accident and are planning on filing a personal injury claim, contact Larson and Gallivan PLC. We are here to help you with your claim, and get you the compensation you deserve.