The Pacific Northwest is home to some of the world’s best skiing mountains making it a popular local sport. There is no doubt, however, that the sport carries a high risk for personal injury. Skiers may sign a waiver that they are risking a skiing accident without the ability to sue but if you were injured by another skier or snowboarder, or by a ski area operator; you may be entitled to recover damages for your injuries.
Many skiing injuries are the result of collisions with other skiers or riders, chairlift accidents, or other ski area operator negligence. Ski area operator negligence can involve issues such as heavy machinery operation mistakes or malfunctions, in-area avalanches, or improperly marked boundaries.
Washington State Ski Law
Most states have specific statutes for ski law that lay out local safety standards, legal responsibilities, liabilities for damages, and immunities.
The Washington State Ski Safety Act places most of the duty of care on the skier. It is expected that a skier understands the inherent risks in the sport and that they will exercise reasonable care for their own safety and the safety of others. A skier may be held negligent for crashing into another skier, for example, if it can be proven that he was acting recklessly. A person’s home owner’s insurance may provide compensation for any injuries that they caused. Ski operators must put out proper signage and carry minimum insurance, however. There is also a misdemeanor law for leaving the scene: any person who is involved in a ski accident has a duty to stay on scene until they have provided identification and sought reasonable assistance.
Common Ski Accidents
While many types of accidents can occur on a ski mountain, these are the most common:
- Colliding with another skier or snowboarder
- Crashing into the lift riblets
- Falling from a cliff
- Getting caught up in an avalanche
- Equipment failure
Types of Ski Injuries
Ski injuries range from minor to very serious. Here is a list of ski injuries:
- Broken bones
- Knee injuries
- Muscle pulls and strains
- Brain trauma and other head injuries
- Spinal cord injury
Ski Injury Statistics
- Around 1 in 6 or 17 percent of all skiing injuries were to the head, although that figure rose to 1 in 4 of all injuries that were the result of a collision.
- The upper extremities experience 29 percent of injuries, the torso 12 percent, the lower extremities 42 percent, the shoulders 10 percent, knees 23 percent, and “skiers thumb” 7 percent (injury to the ulnar collateral ligament).
- According to the National Ski Areas Association (NSAA):
- During the past 10 years, about 41.5 people have died skiing / snowboarding per year on average.
- During the 2011/12 season, 54 fatalities occurred out of the 51.0 million skier / snowboarder days reported for the season.
- Serious injuries (paralysis, serious head and other serious injuries) occur at the rate of about 44.7 per year. During the 2011/12 season, there were 510 serious injuries.
If you or a loved one were injured in an accident, you have enough to deal with. Let an experienced accident attorney fight for the full compensation that you deserve. It is not uncommon to receive a settlement from the insurance company that is five to ten times bigger with the help of a lawyer. Call the caring accident attorneys at Tario & Associates, P.S. in Bellingham, WA today for a FREE consultation! We have been representing residents of Whatcom County, Skagit County, Island County and Snohomish County since 1979. You will pay nothing up front and no attorney fees at all unless we recover damages for you!