Skiing is a thrilling sport that is extremely popular. Unfortunately, it also poses serious injury risks. Before taking to the slopes, click here to learn more.

Should I be concerned about taking my family on a ski trip?

 

A:

ski slope dangersAs the snow begins to fall, thousands of enthusiasts pack up their boots and mittens and flock to local ski resorts. Unfortunately, despite its popularity, skiing and other winter resort activities can be extremely dangerous. Although this danger may be part of the thrill, additional risks caused by poorly run resorts can cause an exciting ski vacation to turn into an avalanche of pain, medical bills, and regret.

Personal Risk

The National Ski Areas Association (NSAA) reports that the risk of serious injury or death at a ski resort is statistically low and that injuries have steadily decreased for skiers over the last 50 years. While snowboarding injuries have increased slightly, that is mostly because the popularity of the sport has risen dramatically. Although the numbers are low, your risk of injury is increased when other skiers and snowboarders are careless and when ski resorts are negligent. Some risk factors include:

  • Personal negligence. Many ski injuries are caused by skiers who overestimate their skill level or underestimate the difficulty of a slope. As a result, they lose control and cause harm to themselves or others on the slope.
  • Inherent ski risks. Part of the thrill of skiing is the inherent risks involved. Ski slopes are steep and snow is slippery. Ski terrains are unstable, unpredictable, and unyielding. As a result, when you make the choice to ski, you also make a choice to accept certain potential risks.

Resort Negligence

The scariest risks of skiing are the ones for which you can’t prepare yourself. When a resort fails to maintain slopes, equipment, or safety protocols, you and your family are placed at risk. A few safety hazards that can cause severe danger include:

  • Improperly groomed slopes. When a slope isn’t cleared of debris and obstacles, it increases the risk for collisions. Additionally, if the runs aren’t routinely safeguarded against avalanches, you could potentially be buried in several feet of snow. 
  • Poorly rated slope angles. The steepest angle of repose a course should safely maintain is 60 degrees, although the legal maximum is 75 degrees. However, when a resort carelessly rates a slope as having a minor angle-grade when its slope is greater than 45 degrees, you may be able to argue negligence as it increases your risk for losing control of your run.
  • Ill-maintained equipment and personnel. Five percent of ski injuries occur as a result of chair-lift accidents, while many more result from improper guidance and insufficient safety training from instructors.

Unfortunately, many resorts in Washington are covered by an immunity law that states guests cannot sue resorts for ski injuries. However, this law only pertains to injuries that can be reasonably attributed to personal negligence or inherent risk.

Your Inside Edge

Before you plan your next ski trip, make sure you understand the risks and prepare yourself accordingly. If you or a loved one sustains a severe injury that you believe was caused by another’s negligence, contact our office immediately. Although they may be covered under immunity laws, depending on the circumstances of your injuries, you may still have a duty of care case. Call or visit our Bellevue office to learn more about your options for injury compensation.


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Bellevue Office
11900 NE 1st Street
Suite 300
Bellevue, WA 98005
Phone: (425) 289-1990
Fax: (425) 289-1991
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Bellevue Office
11900 NE 1st Street
Suite 300
Bellevue, WA 98005
Phone: (425) 289-1990
Fax: (425) 289-1991

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