You knew that skiing and snowboarding was dangerous before you ever started, but what if your injuries happen in a way that you never expected, through the negligence of the ski resort or another skier? Can you sue? This is what you should know.
Assumption Of Risk Doesn't Mean That You Don't Have A Case
When you engage in a sport that's inherently dangerous, you may get hurt. If you do, you may not be able to sue anybody, even if someone else was at fault for the accident. You assumed the risk of injury that goes along with being involved in the sport.
However, there's a difference between an ordinary accident and one that's caused by someone else's negligent or reckless actions. When that happens, you have the right to recover for your injuries.
What exactly makes an action negligent or reckless? A lot depends on the individual circumstances of your case, and much depends on the laws in your state. Many states have laws that specifically address the situation. However, some actions are clearly more negligent or reckless than others.
Negligence And Recklessness On The Slopes
Every ski area has rules that skiers and snowboarders are expected to obey, for their safety and the safety of others. Many of them use what's known as the "Skier Responsibility Code (SRC)," or use similar rules.
If your accident was caused by another skier or snowboarder who violated the rules of conduct used for the slopes, it's very possible that you are a victim of negligence or recklessness. If the accident happened in spite of another skiers attempts to obey the rules, you probably won't have a case.
For example, imagine that you are heading down a beginner slope and another skier loses control and falls right in your path, causing a collision in which you are injured.
Even though the other skier technically violated the SRC by losing control, the other skier wasn't being negligent, just inexperienced. Because you were on a beginner's slope, you would be expected to realize that other skiers could easily lose control, fall, or make mistakes while learning. There's no negligence involved.
However, if you were with a group of beginners struggling through the middle of a slope and you get run over by a more experienced skier who is showing off, racing through the slope to demonstrate his or her skills, you probably have a case. The SRC tells skiers that it's their responsibility to give other skiers ahead of them the right of way, in order to prevent collisions.
When The Ski Resort Is At Fault
In some cases, the ski resort may be at fault for the accident. Again, you assume some of the risk of an accident, but that doesn't give the ski resort the right to ignore safety issues. Some common problems that could lead to a valid personal injury lawsuit are:
- defective or damaged rental equipment provided by the ski area
- a ski lift that isn't properly maintained
- a ski instructor, working for the resort, encourages an inexperienced skier to attempt a slope that was too dangerous for his or her level of skill
- slopes that are poorly maintained, or not well marked
- allowing slopes to remain open despite hazardous weather conditions
Ski and snowboarding injuries can be serious, and the lawsuits that result are often complex. If you've been injured on the slopes and you believe that your injuries were the result of negligence or recklessness, contact an attorney (such as Steven A. Crifase Ltd) who is familiar with the laws of your state. Don't assume that you can't recover for your injuries, just because you knew the sport was dangerous.