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Am I Liable for a Skiing Accident?

By May 26, 2022June 7th, 2022No Comments

Picture this — you’re speeding down the slope on your trusted skis while white powder blows past your face. You come around a corner and the end of the trail is in sight but suddenly something collides with you and you become a human snowball while your skis go flying off your feet. You and the other individual point fingers assigning blame but can any specific person be held liable for a skiing accident?

Skiing and snowboarding are exciting pastimes that are popular almost everywhere you can find enough snow for them, but they can also be quite dangerous if the wrong circumstances arise. While you should always do your best to stay safe and avoid any situations where you or someone else might be injured, sometimes accidents do happen. When they do, here are some rules of thumb for determining whether or not you are liable for a skiing accident, and some tips to avoid them altogether. 

Determining Fault

The first step to determining liability in any accident is determining if there was fault and where it lies. But before you go pointing fingers, there might be no fault at all in some situations! Just because another skier or snowboarder ran into you or hurt you doesn’t necessarily mean that they were at fault in the accident, or that they’re liable for damages to you. For example, let’s say two beginner skiers are both skiing slowly and carefully on a beginner slope in good weather and collide with each other. In this case, neither person is actually at fault. Assess your particular situation and the events leading up to it, and try to determine where the fault lies in your case.

Was There Negligence or Recklessness?

While we hope that you’re not one of “those” skiers on the slope, we know that they are out there. If you’re an experienced skier, you know exactly who we’re talking about. They race down the slope not stopping for anyone in their way, weaving across the entire trail and cutting off anyone who poses a threat to them not beating their previous time.They’re reckless and dangerous.

There are basically three types of negligence that can occur in skiing accidents. The first happens when either you or another person on the slopes was acting recklessly, such as going too fast, not maintaining control, obstructing a trail, or not following the generally accepted rules of ski slope etiquette. The second happens when the ski area was poorly maintained, poorly designed, or not well marked, leading to hazards that ended up in an accident. The third is that an instructor or teacher led you to terrain that was outside your skill level. If any of these conditions were present in your accident, then there was negligence involved. From there, determining fault is easy, since the negligent person or party will be the one responsible for the accident.

Assumption of Risk

So you like to live life on the edge? There is nothing wrong with that as long as you are practicing all safety measures that are in your control while taking part in the activity you love and not putting others in harm. Assumption of risk is something that tends to complicate liabilities around skiing accidents. Because skiing and snowboarding are widely acknowledged to be inherently risky activities (something you surely know if you’ve been doing them for a while), there is something called “assumption of risk.” 

This means it is expected that you understand the activity you have chosen to take part in is dangerous, and to a certain extent you agree that you’re taking these risks on yourself. However, a ski resort or any other place that maintains a mountain environment for skiing and snowboarding has a responsibility to protect you from foreseeable risks by searching for hazards, keeping the ski runs groomed and maintained, and making sure skiers are properly warned about potential dangers like difficult terrain. An at-fault ski resort will likely bring up this defense, so it’s good to be aware of the concept. It takes a team effort to keep everyone safe on the slopes!

How to Avoid Skiing Accidents

The best way to manage ski accidents is to avoid them altogether! is just to avoid them altogether! There are plenty of ways to make sure you stay safe on the slopes, so here are a few of them.

  1. Make sure you don’t go alone – use the buddy system! You can watch each other’s backs out there and in the event that one of you is injured, you won’t run the risk of getting lost or stuck on the slopes with no one knowing where you are to come and help you.
  2. Always wear your protective gear and make sure you have it properly fitted. Elbow and knee pads, wrist guards for snowboarders, helmets, goggles, bubblewrap, and boots and bindings are all there for a very good reason: to keep you safe!
  3. Be aware of your surroundings and always scan the area before you head down and while you’re actively skiing. It’s also a good idea to avoid texting or listening to music, just so that you’re as alert as possible. Taylor Swift can wait until you’re safely at the bottom of the mountain and you can avoid creating any “Bad Blood” with anyone skiing alongside you on the slopes as you belt out your favorite tune.
  4. Follow the rules and slope etiquette. Make sure you stay in control, and when in doubt, go slower than you think you need to. Things that may seem like basic skiing principles and manners can actually help to prevent accidents most of the time.

With these safety tips in mind, you’ll be able to have a fun and safe day skiing or snowboarding, and if an accident does arise, you will also know where you stand in terms of your liability. If you’re still not sure or what to speak to an expert, don’t hesitate to give our Stroudsburg or Bethlehem offices a call. Happy skiing!

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