It’s no secret Colorado has great skiing. In the 2016-2017 ski season, Colorado’s 30 ski areas logged over 13 million visits. Colorado’s ski industry supports over 46,000 year-round jobs and has an economic impact of roughly 4.8 billion per year. If you live here you know the sport is a real boon to the state.
Still, if you’ve ever found yourself on a popular slope on a popular day, you may wish the state had kept things a little more hush-hush. After all, 13 million visits translates into a lot of skiers. When it comes to enjoying the mountains at their snowy best, the safety-minded (and perhaps a bit anxiety-prone) among us tend to find ourselves in a quandary. We may, in fact, find ourselves gazing at the distant mountains, thinking something like this: Sure, I’d like to go skiing, but what if someone crashes into me? How do I stay safe on the slopes?
The Skier’s Code
Fortunately, The National Ski Areas Association designed The Skier’s Code to address our somewhat-anxious concerns. It is a list of seven guidelines, as follows:
- Always stay in control.
- People ahead of you have the right of way. Avoid them.
- Stop in a safe place for yourself and others.
- Whenever starting downhill or merging, look uphill and yield to others.
- Use devices to help prevent runaway equipment.
- Observe signs and warnings, and keep off closed trails.
- Know how to use the lift safely.
As you can see, The Skier’s Code is rational, reasonable, and capable of preventing all but the strangest of collisions (beware of wandering moose). It covers pretty much everything a skier can do to stay safe. So set your worries aside, oh somewhat-anxious friend. Follow the code and have an epic day!
The problem is, not everyone follows the code. Resorts keep statistics under wraps, but anyone on ski patrol will tell you collisions do happen. And when they do, injuries can be significant. If 150 pounds of humanity slams into you at 30 miles per hour, you are going to feel it, maybe for a long time. Do you have any recourse?
Hopefully yes, but you will need help. If the collision was more than minor, the resort should have a report on file. According to Colorado’s Ski Safety Act, colliding skiers are required to stop, render aid, and provide their names, addresses, and identification to an employee of the resort (ski patrol) and each other. The report will detail the nature, location, and causes of the accident. It will be essential to your case.
Don’t expect a resort to provide it, however, without a lawyer’s request. The Ski Safety Act includes strong legal protections for resorts, but they are not immune. They know this, and they have no obligation to help you make your case. Even so, in the vast majority of collision cases, legal responsibility will fall upon the skier who caused the accident, with damages paid by homeowner’s or traveler’s insurance.
And how would a skier’s fault be determined, you ask?
That brings us back to The Code, which is incorporated into The Ski Safety Act in a beautiful dance of legal oneness. Skiers who fail to ski cautiously, ski within their ability, and maintain a lookout are liable for the injuries they cause. To be blunt, the skier who does not follow the code will pay. Still, ski law is complicated and every case is unique. If you have been injured while skiing, call us. We have handled many complex ski cases, including collisions and ski lift failure. Let’s see if we can help you, too.
But let’s say you haven’t been injured. Let’s say you just fear it. Our best advice to the somewhat-anxious-winter-mountain-gazer?
Hey, there is a certain amount of risk in strapping polished sleds to your feet. But you know this. You are careful, aware, and prepared. Just stay alert and own those sleds. Follow the code. Lift your smiling face to the winter sun, friend, then go (carefully!) down the mountain.
Enjoy your epic, frosty, beautiful day.
Article by Molly Fuscher