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Who is liable for ski injuries?

On Behalf of | Dec 21, 2021 | Injuries, Insurance Defense |

Colorado is a world-class destination for skiers and boarders. There are countless opportunities to enjoy the great outdoors, but going down snow-covered mountains is still one of the most popular. There is a wide range of resorts to visit, ranging from smaller local spots like Loveland or Crested Butte or their famous counterparts like Vail and Steamboat.

These areas are a great place to have fun, enjoy the fresh air and get some exercise, but they are also the sites of countless injuries, some severe or fatal. Like similar laws in many other states, the Colorado Ski Safety Act outlines standards for the injured to file a lawsuit against the companies that own and operate these areas. It is a fact that sliding down a mountain on skis or boards is an inherently dangerous proposition, so visitors to the areas must assume certain risks that are part of the sports. Ski lifts also pose a threat, and the Colorado Tramway Act regulates the operation of ski lifts and what constitutes negligence. There are, however, instances where the individual may file a suit.

Damages must involve dangers that are not inherent

Some instances do not qualify as inherent dangers here in Colorado. These include:

  • Open excavations
  • Parked heavy machinery around a blind corner
  • Collisions with moving equipment where the employee is at fault
  • Improperly designed or maintain ski runs
  • Unmarked hazards or man-made objects on groomed slopes

Lifts are often a source of injury. Determining fault involves a balance of the operator’s duty to keep riders and skiers safe and the skier or rider’s responsibility to pay attention, their knowledge to use the lift before boarding and follow the rules. Instances where the operator or employee are negligent includes:

  • Inadequate ramp maintenance
  • Not slowing or stopping lift to facilitate the safe loading or unloading of known inexperienced users
  • No padding around the bottom of the lift towers
  • Poor design or manufacturing defect

Claims often involve serious injury

Injuries on the slopes are common, so severe or catastrophic injuries involving the exceptions above often have the best chance for compensation. It can include current and future medical expenses, time away from work and other related costs. Owners and operators often use waivers to avoid legal exposure or further the protections enjoyed under the Colorado Ski Safety Act. Still, these are not guaranteed even when there is a waiver.