Skiing Accident Injuries in Colorado

12/28/2021

Colorado is famous as a ski destination for U.S. citizens and foreigners. The western state has 26 ski resorts, with the non-profit organization Modified Comparative Negligence representing 22. While skiing and snowboarding are enjoyable sports, they are not without risks. 

Like any other physical sport, skiers face several risks of skiing accidents and injuries. These wounds are either catastrophic or fatal. But despite the high risk of catastrophic injuries, most people are unaware of the dangers skiing, and snowboarding accidents pose.

Some skiing accident victims are also unaware that they are entitled to compensation for ski injuries. A ski accident lawyer at Firouzbakht Law Firm will explain all you need to know about a personal injury claim and provide legal advice. 

How Many People Get Injured Skiing Each Year?

Skier in purple suite falls and gets injured on slope

Unlike auto accidents that happen daily, ski accidents are mostly seasonal. This is because skiing happens during the winter months, making it a seasonal sport. Thus, the rate of ski and snowboard accidents get calculated by season. 

On average, the chances of skiers and snowboarders losing their lives is one to a million. The National Ski Areas Association presented the following statistics for the 2019/2020 season: 

  • There were 42 reported fatal accidents. 
  • The majority of fatal accidents resulted from collisions
  • Males represented 83% of all skiers and snowboarders fatalities
  • A majority of the accidents occurred on one or more difficult terrain

The association noted that the 42 deaths are higher than the 10-year industry average of 39 per season. However, compared with the 51.3 million skiers and snowboarders who visited that year, the number is low. So, if the national figure is encouraging, what about Colorado numbers?

Colorado is no stranger to skiing accidents.. In 2020, Westword reported that ski accidents accounted for 8,000 emergency room visits. There were 1,600 ambulance transports from ski resorts. It means that for an average 120-day season, there were 66 trips to the ER and 13 ambulance rides daily. 

In the 2020/2021 season, at least 11 skiers died in traumatic crashes in Colorado's 26 ski resorts. What you should know is that these numbers do not represent the true state of events. The biggest challenge in collating skiing accident data is the fact that Colorado law does not require ski areas to disclose the number of injuries and death on their ground. 

The only agency with reports of accidents is Colorado Ski County USA. Resorts represented by the organization are mandated to report fatalities to them. The body then shares it with the public upon request. However, the information is limited. 

What Are the Causes of Skiing Accidents in Colorado?

Skiers and skateboarders take extra precautions like wearing helmets and safety equipment before getting on the snow. But despite these precautions, accidents still happen. These accidents leave skiers and skateboarders with various types of injuries. 

Before looking at skiing accident injuries in Colorado, let's look at some of the causes of a snowboarding accident. 

  • Downhill accidents 
  • Collision with other skiers or snowboarders 
  • Collision with objects like barriers or trees
  • Reckless behavior or out of control skiers and snowboarders
  • Ski lift accident
  • Ski equipment malfunction
  • Ski lift operators error
  • Poorly lit or poorly located signs
  • Slope maintenance
  • Slope obstructions
  • Inadequate instruction from ski or snowboarders instructors

Negligence from ski area operators can also cause accidents at ski resorts. The severity of injuries depends on the impact of the crash. If you suffer an injury from a ski crash, our ski accident attorneys can represent you. 

What Is the Most Common Injury in a Skiing Accident?

Skiing injuries could result in traumatic brain injuries, broken bones, or knee injuries. Below are the common categories of injuries suffered by skiers. 

Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) and Medial Collateral Ligament (MCL) Rupture or Sprain

A rescue team helps injured skier after a fall in a Denver slope

The knee is the most commonly affected joint. It accounts for at least one in four ski injuries.. The most common knee injuries are ACL and MCL — the ligament that attaches your thigh bone (femur) to the shin bone (tibia). A skier would injure their knee when they catch an unexpected edge with their ski.

If the binding to your ski boots fail to release, your body weight and speed will create a lot of energy through the ski equipment tip. It causes the length of your ski to act as a lever, forcing your knee to twist. Aside from bone and ligament damage, you could also suffer breaks and fractures to the lower legs, ankles, and feet. 

Shoulder Injuries

When you're about to fall, self-preservation kicks in, causing you to spread out your arms to break the fall. By doing this, the impact travels through your arms to your shoulders, causing an injury. The latter could be dislocations, sprain, or bone fracture. The involved skier can also sustain a broken collarbone or clavicle. 

Wrist and Thumb Injuries 

The instinct to protect yourself with your arms when you fall puts your wrists and thumbs at risk. This is because they are the first point of the body to absorb the impact of the fall. If you fall on your hands while your ski equipment is still in its strap, you'll suffer something known as "skier thumb." It refers to the thumb getting dislocated or sprained. 

Head Injuries 

Despite skiers wearing dedicated ski helmets, they still suffer a head injury. These wounds can be traumatic brain injuries, concussions, or a cracked skull. You can also suffer a whiplash injury in the neck region. 

Even experienced skiers are prone to suffer injuries. Thankfully, injured skiers who are not at fault for their accident can get compensation for their injuries. An experienced ski accident lawyer can help you get compensated. 

What To Do Following a Ski Accident

Whether it is an auto accident or ski accident, you need to know what to do after an occurrence. The steps you take at the accident scene and moments after goes a long way in saving your life. It will also impact your personal injury claim if you choose to pursue one. 

Do the following if you find yourself or another person in a ski or snowboarding accident.

  • Be Aware of Your Surrounding: If you are alert, common sense dictates that you pay close attention to your surroundings. If you don't, you'll put yourself at risk as others on the skiing slopes might be unaware of your presence. They will likely be coming at full speed and might collide with you. 
  • Secure the Accident Area: Suppose you collided with a tree or barrier that the ski operator failed to warn skiers about. You need to ensure that you capture such obstruction. Don't let ski resort staff try to move or clear the scene until you've taken photographic or video evidence. 
  • Alert Others of Your Presence: Alerting other skiers of your presence would prevent further accidents. To do this, put up cross skis or a planted snowboard. If you are not the injured person, place the sign above the injured party. Additionally, you can ask someone to stand on a slope and warn oncoming skiers about the accident. 
  • Get Help: Ski resorts always put up emergency numbers on most piste maps. You can also note them at ski schools and write them down when buying your lift pass. With these numbers, you can get help immediately after an accident. This is why you should ensure you go with a fully charged phone. 

If you happen not to be the injured victim in a ski accident, do the following to help the injured victim:

  • If they are unconscious, perform CPR. Tilt their airway and check for breathing.
  • Cover wounds and try to stop the bleeding by applying pressure.
  • Hypothermia makes it hard for blood to clot, so conserve the injured person's body heat. It would help if you had a foil blanket as part of your first aid kit.
  • Avoid repositioning broken limbs unless leaving them would affect blood circulation.
  • Keep the injured person safe and warm. Try not to move them, and avoid giving them food or drinks, especially alcohol. 

Who Can You Sue in a Colorado Skiing Accident? 

The severe nature of skiing accident injuries often equals extensive medical bills. Our years of practice as personal injury attorneys showed us that most Colorado skiers are unaware of the ski safety laws of the state.. This is why most people are unaware of who to sue in a snowboarding accident. 

In Colorado, both the skier and resort operators share legal responsibility. Back in 1979, the Colorado legislature established the Colorado Ski Safety Act. The law acknowledged certain dangers associated with skiing.

It provides that "a skier assumes the risk of any injury to person or property resulting from any of the inherent dangers and risk of skiing." Also, ski resorts make skiers sign liability waivers, freeing them of any liability from an accident. At the core, it means that even when there's evidence of negligence, you sign away your right to sue.

Thus, most times, the only person skiers can sue are fellow skiers who break the rules and cause an accident. This is why you should not allow the person to leave the accident scene. Get the ski patrol to document the accident immediately and keep a record of your medical treatment. 

Female snowboarder has a broken arm form a fall

Note that despite the liability waiver, you can sue ski resort employees, especially those with operational duties. This is because operators have a legal duty relating to chairlift operation, grooming machines, snowmobiles, and the installation of artificial features and boundary ropes. Failure to abide by this legal requirement constitutes negligence which the employee will answer in a lawsuit. 

Let Expert Ski Attorneys Help You!

Going into a legal battle alone is never the best option. At Firouzbakht Law Firm, we have knowledgeable ski accident lawyers to help you ascertain the fault party and get you compensation. Contact us today to find out more about our services. 

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