Snowsports are inherently dangerous. We accept certain risks as part of entering our favorite resorts. When serious ski or snowboard accidents occur, they can be life-altering:
- Collisions with people
- Collisions with trees or barriers
- Tree-well immersions
- General falls
- Ski lift accidents
Because of the waivers you sign, you normally cannot hold the ski resort responsible for your injuries, or a loved one’s death, unless there is a high level of negligence that can be proved. If you think you may have a personal injury or wrongful death case nonetheless, give attorney Chris Jeffress a call for a complimentary consultation in Boulder at 303-732-6634.
One of the best ways to avoid the trauma, expense and hassle of these injuries is to prevent them. You can do that by preparing yourself physically for ski season so you’re in control of your skis or board, and by following standard codes of conduct on the slopes.
Common Ski Area Injuries
About 10 million people ski or snowboard in the United States each year, and roughly 600,000 injuries are reported annually, according to Johns Hopkins. Up to 20 percent of those injuries are head injuries, Johns Hopkins says. About 22 percent of those head injuries are serious enough to lead to loss of consciousness, concussion or worse. Oftentimes the riders were not wearing helmets. Ski area trauma includes:
- Head injuries
- Spinal fracture
- Knee injuries
- Arm, shoulder and hand fractures
- Ankle injuries
- Torn ACL or MCL
A severe head injury can lead to hospitalization, disability, and could even be fatal under certain circumstances.
Tips for Risk Mitigation on the Slopes
In the 2018/2019 winter season in the U.S., 31 “catastrophic incidents” resulting in injuries were reported at ski areas. There were 42 reported fatalities. According to the National Ski Areas Association, the primary cause of injuries was collisions with other guests and with stationary objects.
That being said, the risk of injury in ski areas is still quite low, about a 1 in a million chance of a catastrophic injury, according to NSAA. Here are some ways you can continue to keep your risk low:
- Wear a helmet. There are no U.S. laws mandating it, but studies show using a helmet can save your life in an accident.
- Strengthen your core and legs, and improve your stamina during the off-season. Being in-shape on the slopes will prevent overtiredness, allowing you to prevent falls and crashes you would otherwise be unable to avoid.
- Keep your knees flexed if you’re falling. Locking or straightening them could cause worse injuries.
- Don’t mix alcohol and drugs with your day on the slopes. Save drinks for après-ski, when inebriation won’t endanger yourself or other people skiing and snowboarding.
- Always stay in control. That means don’t get distracted, and always ride or ski within your skill set. You must be able to control your speed and direction of travel.
- Look uphill and yield when you start going downhill or when you are merging.
- Yield right of way to the people ahead of you.
- Don’t stop right in the middle of things, where it’s obviously unsafe. Move aside to a safe place.
If you are involved in a collision or other type of accident with another person in the ski area, exchange contact information and ask witnesses for contact information. Call experienced Boulder, Colorado, attorney Chris Jeffress at 303-732-6634 for a complimentary consultation.