To Ski Or Not To Ski — Is That Even A Question?

Many Californians grew up skiing at one of our amazing resorts such as Mammoth or Badger Pass, and even a short hour away locals can enjoy Alta Sierra and the fun that comes with skiing and snowboarding. Some 10 to 12 million people ski or snowboard nationwide, and in California resorts are seeing increased numbers over the past few years.

Skiing and snowboarding, and other winder sports such as snowmobiling and snowshoeing can be great forms of exercise and enjoyment; however, they are also fraught with potential liabilities and injuries. In some respects, ski or snowboard accidents are similar to car accidents, just in a different venue – the ski trail rather than the road.

If you’re injured skiing or snowboarding; call my office so we can help you determine whether negligence is present and whether you have a right to seek compensation. Generally speaking, accidents fall into four ski categories:

  1. Collisions
  2. Area negligence
  3. Ski lift accidents
  4. Equipment failure

The general rule is that there must be some degree of fault before a person may be held liable for damages to another person caused by a skiing or snowboarding accident.  Imagine this scenario:

            You are enjoying a beautiful day with your family skiing on the mountain. You notice the runs seem busy with snowboarders when you see the banners promoting the “Freestyle Snowboarding Expo” around the resort. Early in the afternoon you are skiing down the green slope called “Mellow Ride” when all of a sudden you see and hear a flash of color as snowboarders fly past you.  As you look back you see a wildly out-of-control snowboarder with headphones who is screaming loudly and looking behind him.  He runs into your family, taking out your knee and also hitting your son,  who breaks his arm. 

Billy the snowboarder may be negligent and you may have a right to collect damages due to his reckless behavior on the slopes. That scenario is far different from two beginner skiers who happen to collide on accident, where no one is at fault.

Should you be involved in an accident on the slopes that you believe was caused by negligent equipment or behavior, please contact my office for advice. It will be important to gather evidence in the form of pictures, witness accounts, contact information and any damaged equipment. Should you be a victim of negligence, you may be entitled to damages including the reasonable value of your medical bills, your lost wages and earning capacity or any pain and suffering caused by the accident.

Above all, I want to help my clients avoid potential accidents on the slopes.  According to Ski California, there is a “code” of responsibility that skiers and snowboarders have in order to ensure a safe and fun environment.  The “code” includes:

  • Always stay in control, and be able to stop or avoid other people or objects
  • People ahead of you have the right of way. It is your responsibility to avoid them.
  • You must not stop where you obstruct a trail, or are not visible from above.
  • Whenever starting downhill or merging into a trail, look uphill and yield to others.
  • Always use devices to help prevent runaway equipment.
  • Observe all posted signs and warnings. Keep off closed trails and out of closed areas.
  • Prior to using any lift, you must have the knowledge and ability to load, ride and unload safely.

Skiing and snowboarding are fun, family activities that allow us to enjoy the great outdoors. Here’s to a safe and healthy winter season!


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