Who Is Responsible For Skiing Accidents in Colorado?
Let’s set the scene…
It’s a bluebird day on the mountain and you’re ripping down a groomer. You may or may not be vying for this season’s personal speed record, and it’s possible your ski pass app tracks velocity. Sunshine, friends, a crisp twenty-five degrees, and Friday off from work all coalesce to borderline-ski nirvana. Your two best friends are to your left and right; their intensity is infectious, and you can’t help but go all-out to make it down the trail first.
The last thing on your mind at this point is a lawsuit, but the mountain can be a dangerous and unpredictable environment…
One side-effect of thrill-seeking behavior is (in some cases) selective amnesia. You forget that the trail you’re careening down, your black diamond of choice intersects with a green access run. A legion of kindergarten-aged kids on their first ski lesson enters your visual field out of nowhere.
You’re going too fast; you have no choice but to execute an emergency hockey stop (picture the kind of stop you perform when you want to kick up as much snow into your friend’s jacket as possible — now multiply that visual by ten). You forestall your momentum and evade utter calamity, but you’re in a world of pain and it feels like something popped in your knee.
It turns out you tore your ACL. Ski Patrol is on its way to carry you down in a sled.
Can You Sue The Resort For A Skiing Accident?
In this scenario, does our protagonist have cause for legal action? Could they sue the resort writ large or the trail designer who thought it was a great idea to build a beginner run right in front of a steep groomer?
For our answer, let’s turn to the 2016 Colorado Revised Statutes Title 33, or in other words, the Colorado Ski and Safety Act.
Q: What is the Colorado Ski And Safety Act
A: The statute’s second clause elucidates the following: “Each skier has the duty to maintain control of his speed and course at all times when skiing and to maintain a proper lookout so as to be able to avoid other skiers and objects.” In other words, skiers waive their right at the lift line to sue ski resorts and their operators in the event they find themselves out of their depths.
Can You Sue Another Skier For A Skiing Accident?
Signage like Extreme Terrain Ahead is meant to offer reasonable precautions against novices dropping off cliffs, but ultimately it is the skier’s duty to perform within their abilities. So, if legal action against Colorado ski resorts is off the table, are injured individuals eligible for any form of recourse?
It turns out, the answer is quite simple: it depends on the nature of the accident. If our protagonist struck a middle-aged woman instead of narrowly avoiding the ski school kids, he could be subject to a civil lawsuit. All skiers accept responsibility for the inherent dangers of skiing, which include, “ice, windpack, slush, bare spots, rocks, trees,” but colliding with another person is not an inherent part of the sport.
What Should I Do After A Ski Accident?
In the event you or someone close to you suffers the grave misfortune of a collision with another skier, note the at-fault individual is required by law to provide their name to a member of the ski patrol or another employee at the resort.
According to Subsection 12, “Any person who violates any of the provisions…is guilty of a class 2 petty offense” in addition to damages sought by the injured individual.
Contact Rocky Mountain To Speak With A Denver Ski Accident Lawyer
Have you been in a skiing accident and want to better understand your legal rights and liability? Call Attorney Brett Buchheit and the team at Rocky Mountain Personal Injury Lawyers to talk to us about your case and options. As we’ve discussed, skiing can be a dangerous and unpredictable sport, and the question of whose at fault in a given incident can often get complicated. The next time you hit the slopes, have the peace of mind of having Denver’s best ski accident attorneys on your side.