How to File a Ski Accident Lawsuit in Colorado
Ski season brings millions of visitors to Colorado slopes each year, and thousands of orthopedic and neurological injuries come with them. According to available statistics, some emergency departments treat an average of 55 ski accident victims daily, and about 10 skiers require emergency transportation to the hospital by ambulance or helicopter daily. Approximately 500 of the 1,500 skiers and snowboarders admitted to trauma centers in 2017-2018 needed immediate surgery.
If you sustained a serious injury because of the carelessness of another skier, defective equipment, or a tramway accident, you might be eligible to file a ski accident lawsuit in Colorado. At Sloat, Nicholson & Hoover, P.C., we have over 100 years of combined legal experience and have won over $100 million in verdicts and settlements. We are fully committed to helping you concentrate on your physical and emotional recovery from your ski accident. We will take the legal burden off your shoulders as we work hard to help you collect full and fair compensation for your injuries.
Skiing and Snowboarding Injury Lawsuits
Colorado’s Ski Safety and Liability Act (the “Act”) is a comprehensive law that describes the rights and obligations of ski resorts and skiers. The statute prohibits skiers from filing lawsuits against ski resorts for injuries suffered because of risks that are inherent when someone participates in the sport of skiing. However, skiers can claim against ski resorts for tramway failures or other violations of the statute’s provisions.
Usually, winning a ski accident lawsuit based on negligence requires the plaintiff to prove all the elements of negligence by a preponderance of the evidence. To prove negligence, you must prove the following:
- The defendant owed a duty of care to the plaintiff;
- The defendant breached the duty of care;
- The defendant’s breach of duty directly and proximately caused the plaintiff’s injury; and
- The plaintiff suffered actual damages.
There is only one exception where you would not need to prove all four of these elements to win your claim.
Negligence Per Se
Specifically, the law says that a person who violates the responsibilities contained in the Act is negligent. In legal terms, violating the direct terms of a statute without excuse is called “negligence per se.”
The legal theory of negligence per se means that you, as the plaintiff, do not have to prove the first two elements listed above to prove negligence. You still need to prove the defendant’s negligence caused your injuries and damages. So, although helpful, the doctrine of negligence per se is not an automatic win.
Having a highly experienced ski accident attorney from Sloat, Nicholson & Hoover, P.C., could help you maximize your financial award by using all available legal theories to your advantage.
What Duties of Care Do Colorado Skiers Have?
The Act lists several duties that skiers must observe. Primarily, skiers must know their limitations and ski within them. Other legal duties skiers must observe are:
- Controlling speed at all times,
- Maintaining a proper lookout,
- Staying clear of grooming equipment,
- Avoiding closed trails,
- Heeding all posted warnings,
- Using the proper equipment,
- Yielding to skiers on the slope when starting from a standstill or entering a trail,
- Avoiding trying to ski uphill,
- Leaving the scene of a collision with another skier involving injuries before providing a name and address, and
- Avoiding skiing while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
A skier heading downhill has an obligation to avoid all skiers on the trail below.
As stated earlier, skiers cannot sue ski resorts for risks that are inherent in the act of skiing; and that includes collisions with other skiers. However, the Act indicates that colliding with another skier is not an inherent danger of skiing—as it relates to other skiers. Therefore, one skier can sue another negligent skier for personal injuries and property damage.
You could file a claim against a ski resort if your injuries did not occur as a result of the inherent risks of skiing. For example, you might have a viable claim for damages if a grooming equipment driver negligently operated the vehicle or the resort failed to indicate a closed trail.
Damages for Ski Accidents
Skiing accidents can cause severe injuries or death, despite using equipment that is in good condition, skiing within your ability, and wearing a helmet. Broken bones, torn ligaments, and other orthopedic injuries are commonplace. Unfortunately, spinal cord injuries and head trauma are also common.
Serious injuries suffered in a skiing accident could alter your life immeasurably. Economic damages from ski accidents include:
- Emergency room and ambulance bills,
- Future medical expenses,
- Surgical expenses,
- Rehabilitation expenses,
- Lost wages or salary,
- Loss of future earnings, and
- Making accommodations to your home if you have a permanent injury.
You could be eligible to receive damages for non-economic losses such as pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment of life, and more. Furthermore, there are legal actions your family might be able to take against the responsible party. Your family could have causes of action based on the loss of consortium and loss of companionship that has resulted from your injury.
Limitations on Damages
You need to be aware of legal limitations on damages for ski accidents. If you successfully sue a resort, the Act limits your damages to one million dollars. Also, derivative claims, like loss of consortium, are limited to $250,000 unless you prove the limitations are unjust. There is no such limitation when you file a claim against another skier.
Remember that you must act quickly to preserve your rights. You have only two years to file a claim against a ski resort or another skier. You will lose your chance to recover damages if you miss that deadline.
Need to Learn More About How to File a Ski Accident Lawsuit?
Contact Sloat, Nicholson & Hoover, P.C., right away if you or a loved one suffered a serious injury in a skiing accident caused by another person’s negligence. When you call us at 800-873-3202 or visit us online to schedule a free consultation, we will put our collective knowledge and experience to work for you and your family. Our award-winning lawyers are ready to put their skills to work for you today. Call us to find out more.
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