Nearly 10 million people go skiing or snowboarding each year in America, reports the National Ski Areas Association (NSAA). Pittsburgh and the surrounding areas are home to several ski resorts, which thousands of people visit each year. But skiing is a risky activity. According to NSAA, an estimated 40 people are killed each snow season at a ski area; approximately 50 people sustain serious injuries such as paralysis and traumatic brain injuries, and countless more suffer less serious injuries.
To make matters worse, it is challenging for skiers to hold ski resorts liable for their injuries due to Pennsylvania’s statutory legal protections. If you or a loved one was recently hurt in a serious ski accident, contact Berger and Green to discuss your legal options with a skiing accident & injury lawyer in Pittsburgh: 412-661-1400.
What types of accidents are skiers involved in?
The most common root causes of skiing accidents are inexperienced skiers, alcohol, the inherent risks of the sport, and negligence. Some types of skiing accidents are commonplace and typical of the sport, while others are anything but. Below are some examples:
- Injuries caused by falls or tripping over skis
- Colliding with other skiers, snowboarders, or snow tubers
- Colliding with objects such as trees
- Falling off a lift or getting struck by a lift
- Sliding underneath a guard fence
- Skiers crashing into spectators
- Accident caused by defective skis or other equipment
Who is liable for a skiing accident?
With most types of accidents, a victim can hold any party whose negligence caused the injury liable. Skiing accidents are somewhat more complicated, though. The Skier’s Responsibility Act, found in 42 Pa.C.S. §7102, recognizes that because “there are inherent risks in the sport of downhill skiing,” skiers voluntary assume the associated risks and therefore, cannot hold ski resorts liable for their injuries.
In other words, a skier generally cannot sue a ski resort if s/he is injured by factors or events that are typical of the sport, such as slippery slopes or colliding with objects or people. After all, the dangerous nature of the sport is unavoidable.
However, there are instances in which the resort may be responsible. If an employee’s negligence and not an “inherent risk” causes a skier injury, the victim may be entitled to damages.
In one case (Chepkevich v. Hidden Valley Resort, L.P.) a ski lift operator told a woman that he would stop the lift to help her young nephew who was an inexperienced skier board it. He failed to do so. He tried putting the child on the seat, but only placed him on the edge. The boy began to slip and the woman yelled for the employee to stop the lift, but he did not comply. The boy and the woman fell off the lift and she sustained injuries.
The resort claimed that it was not responsible because the woman signed a release that waived the resort of liability, but the Supreme Court ruled that the woman’s injuries were not an “inherent risk” envisioned in the release, and that the woman and the lift operator had a secondary verbal agreement which he failed to uphold. The judgement was in the victim’s favor.
Other examples of parties that may be liable for a skiing accident include:
- Other skiers and snowboarders
- Private property owners
- Equipment manufacturers
- Maintenance companies and operators
How much can I recover for my skiing accident?
Your potential recovery depends on the extent of your injuries. Skiing accident claims are generally substantial because the injuries are often severe. You might be entitled to damages for your:
- Medical bills
- Immediate and ongoing expenses related to your injuries
- Loss of income and work benefits
- Disfigurement and disability
- The effect of your injuries on your relationships and career
- Pain, suffering, and other emotional harms
- Death benefits, such as loss of income, loss of support, and funeral expenses in fatal accident cases
Your recovery depends on your attorney, as well. A good lawyer will know how to demonstrate the full extent of your injuries to the insurer or court, negotiate with the defendant/insurer for a higher settlement, and even fight for your case in court if necessary. Berger and Green attorneys know how to do just that.
Our team has been helping accident victims in Pittsburgh for over 40 years with their legal needs. We will take the time to understand your injuries and how they are affecting your life, and fight for full and fair compensation on your behalf.
When you work with us, we will help estimate the value of your claim and explain how to proceed to maximize your award.
Discuss Your Snowboarding Accident with Berger and Green — for FREE
Berger and Green injury attorneys in Pittsburgh are dedicated to helping victims pursue justice and compensation when they have suffered injury due to another’s negligence. We can assist with every aspect of a skiing accident case from speaking to witnesses and identifying liability to negotiating with the insurer or representing you in court. Your initial consultation with us is free and you will be under no obligation to use our services.
Also, we have a “You don’t pay unless you win” policy, so you do not have to worry about upfront fees for our services. Even if other attorneys have told you that you do not have a case because of ski resort legal protections, it is worth it to get a second or third opinion. Our team may be able to spot grounds on which you can file a claim and win a settlement, where other less experienced attorneys may not.
Call us today at 412-661-1400 for a free consultation.