Do you enjoy participating in winter sports? Then you should be familiar with the injury risks you face. Read this to learn what to do if you have been hurt.

Winter Sports Injury Risks

Risks of winter sportsWinter weather is dangerous. That doesn’t stop the millions of people who enjoy the brisk fresh air or the excitement they get from winter activities. And, truth to tell, we can understand that point of view. But we’ve also seen the statistics on how dangerous some winter sports can be. A decade ago, over 130,000 Americans were injured while skiing and another 160,000 suffered injuries while snowboarding. And that was a typical year for winter sports injuries.

It’s not surprising, given how snow and ice provide the backdrop for cold-weather sports, that falls—both falling in place and falls from heights—are frequent factors in winter sports injuries. More surprisingly, head injuries account for about one in every ten winter sports accidents. Both types of injury can be life-threatening.

Types of Risks You May Encounter

Is the risk of injury greater for the amateur, or for the professional or competitive sports participant? The answer isn’t clear, because often they’re playing different games. The amateur’s relative lack of experience may make him vulnerable to injuries that the more practiced competitive sportsman instinctively avoids. The professional athlete, though, will be attempting flashier maneuvers that automatically come with greater damage if something goes wrong. Here, we will look at some of the most common risks that amateurs face.

  • Skating. Falls and slips are common for beginning and intermediate skaters; some of these will cause damage to muscles, bones, and joints. It’s important that you make sure the ice will support your weight, especially if you are skating on a natural lake or pond; look for a sign that assures you that skating is safe.
  • Hockey. Ice hockey combines the hazards of skating with the chaos of other aggressive players on the ice. Surprisingly enough, though, the riskiest part of hockey isn’t brawls on the ice but high-speed collisions with other players and obstacles on the playing field. Broken bones and head injuries are frequent occurrences; in fact, concussions are more common for ice hockey than for American football.
  • Skiing. Falls are inevitable on the slopes, and a key part of the training for a novice skier should be instruction on how to fall safely. But even advanced skiers can fall, steer off the course, or collide with another person. Frequent skiing injuries include head and brain damage and trauma to the legs, feet, and the joints in between, with damage to the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in the knee especially common due to twisting of the leg during falls.
  • Snowboarding. Snowboarding accidents are very similar to those affecting skiers, but snowboarders also have increased risk for damage to shoulders, wrists, and arms due to bracing for a fall. Also, unlike skiers, snowboarders are turned sideways to the direction of travel, creating a blind spot at their back. This makes them especially vulnerable to collisions with obstacles or other participants.
  • Sledding. Downhill sledding, snow tubing, snow disk riding, or tobogganing can seem like a fun and low-risk family sport. The chief danger is collision with obstacles that may be partially buried in the snow, such as rocks or tree stumps. Collisions can cause direct injuries—leg injuries are the most common—or even being thrown from the sled.
  • Snowmobile riding. Snowmobile riding has become increasingly popular as a family activity, but it combines the risks of winter sports with those of vehicle accidents. Safety gear should be worn by all riders, and group riding is always recommended. Extra caution is needed when crossing roadways and frozen bodies of water. Fractured bones in the extremities are the most common type of snowmobile accident, and head injuries are the leading cause of death.

Winter Sports Injury Claims

Too often, people who have been hurt while participating in winter sports are willing to dismiss their injuries as bad luck or the results of their own behavior. “Hey, I knew this was risky going in,” they say.

Sometimes that’s true. Other times, it’s not. While the injured person’s behavior may have been a minor factor in the accident, often the primary cause—what lawyers like to call the proximate cause—is someone else’s negligent behavior:

  • Perhaps your sports equipment or safety gear was defectively designed or manufactured.
  • Perhaps a ski lift, tow line, or other device was known not to be operating correctly, but users were not informed of the extra risks.
  • Perhaps there was a special danger on the course, trail, or playing field, but the owner or manager did not perform routine maintenance to find out about the problem, did not bother to fix it, or did not notify guests of the hazard.
  • Perhaps the course or site manager failed to enforce safety rules.
  • Perhaps you were injured because another person made an unsafe maneuver.
  • Perhaps you were injured because the lessons from your instructor were not adequate.

The first priority after a winter sports injury is to get the injured person medical care; even an apparently minor injury should be evaluated by a doctor as soon as possible.

Later, the injury victim and his family may wonder who will pay the medical bills. If the injury was due to misbehavior or negligence, that person or business may be held accountable for any losses suffered in the event. To find out if you have grounds to demand compensation, it’s important to talk to a personal injury lawyer with experience in dealing with catastrophic injuries. Most injury lawyers will offer a free initial consultation to hear your story.

After a sports injury, a family may be left wondering who is going to handle the bills and cover other damage suffered. If it is discovered that an individual who was supposed to be supervising or otherwise supporting the activity was inattentive, or a facility was negligent, you may have cause to file a personal injury lawsuit.

Andrew Kim welcomes new clients with a free, no-obligation consultation. Give him a chance to listen to your story, and let him give his best advice about moving forward with your claim. You can call the Andrew Kim Law Firm, PLLC, directly by phone at 1-800-636-3676.

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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


Catastrophic Injuries

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