A Complete Guide to Navigating Colorado Ski Lift Accidents

Ski lift accidents are often serious, resulting in significant injuries to those affected. If you or a loved one has been injured in a Colorado ski lift accident, there are a few things you need to know.

How to Manage the Aftermath of Ski Lift Accidents

 

For many, skiing is considered a mainstream, minimal risk adventure; for others, it is a way of life, but what happens when they must navigate the harrowing aspect of ski lift accidents on their favorite slopes? Although incidents have decreased with recent winter recreational activity safety improvements, technological advances, and increased consumer awareness, accidents still happen.

Colorado is undeniably one of the most incredible ski destinations in the world. Unfortunately, the activity is inherently a risky one, with accidents being far from rare. Unexpected mishaps may occur, whether by colliding with another skier or a natural obstacle like a tree or rock. Perhaps, none are as frightening and potentially deadly as ski lift accidents.

These injury claims can be complex, with results that might depend upon regional statutes and policies. When considering a lawsuit, injured parties and their families might choose to consult with a ski accident lawyer, such as Combs & Brown Law Firm, LLC.

 

What to Do After a Ski Lift Accident in Colorado

A ski lift accident in Colorado can be disorienting. Although most skiers realize they assume the risk of a fall, skiing is a dangerous sport, and most ski resorts are interested in protecting their patrons’ safety. Although skiers assume a level of risk every time they board a chair lift and head up a mountain, they have a reasonable expectation that the lifts and other equipment are in good working order.

When someone is seriously injured from a ski lift accident, they might be able to submit an accident suit for compensation. Additionally, if a malfunctioning chair lift caused the incident, any contributing business like designers, producers, or distributors may be financially liable.

Understanding Ski Lift Accidents Statistics and Risk

 

According to ski lift accidents statistics reported by The National Ski Areas Association, most accidents involve collisions with other skiers, malfunctioning ski equipment, or terrain. In the 2017-2018 ski season alone, there were 37 catastrophic injury incidents and 37 fatal incidents due to ski accidents across the country. 

Ski lift accidents are often the result of rider error, as in their enthusiasm or high level of confidence, skiers fail to pay attention to the high speeds or the approach of the next chair.

Another common occurrence is the lift getting caught on loose clothing, affecting their dismount from the ride. Although the ground is covered in snow, the impact may still be catastrophic.

 

What You Should Know About Ski Accidents and Injuries

There are several things you should know about ski accidents. Although many are caused by skier error, some of the most noteworthy and dangerous ski chairs are falling. Injuries that skiers may experience include the following:

  • Breaks and fractures
  • Death
  • Joint injuries
  • Neck and spinal injuries
  • Sprains
  • Traumatic brain injuries
  • Physical and mental pain and suffering

If you are injured because a chair fell, several parties may be financially responsible. You must avoid accepting the first settlement that the insurance companies offer. Many of these injuries’ entire scope and severity may not be immediately evident, as they may develop over time.

How Many Ski Lift Accidents Typically Occur Per Year?

 

Before heading to the slopes, more cautious skiers may wonder how many ski lift accidents occur.

During the 2020 to 2021 season, as many as 11 skiers died from collisions. Additionally, out of the 53 million people who rode aerial tramways and lifts during the 2017-2018 season, skiers more frequently become severely injured when loading, exiting, or falling from a ski lift.

 

What Causes Ski Lift Fatalities?

Ski lift fatalities are most often caused by skiers making risky decisions in their panic at being stalled. They may jump without accurately understanding how high up they are or developing a well-thought-out plan to make it to the ground safely. They may attempt to climb along the cables, but what happens if the lift starts working again?

Even though it is well-recognized that skiing is a risky sport with a chance of injury, if an accident results from negligence due to a faulty ski lift, the ski lodge would likely be considered financially liable. The process of determining the responsible party or parties is often a complicated one with many variables.

Colorado Ski Lift Death Financial Compensating

A Colorado ski lift death might occur sometime after the accident, but due to variables and complications caused by the mishap. Since the total cost of the death is impossible to assess thoroughly, the courts compensate in financial terms based on the following:

  • Family counseling and individual counseling due to personal and family emotional stress
  • Hospitalization costs
  • Immediate medical care
  • Legal expenses
  • Future earning capacity
  • Outstanding medical bills
  • Funeral and burial costs

Luckily, most ski lift accidents do not result in death. However, serious injuries can still occur, resulting in the following financial damages, among others:

  • Lost wages
  • Ongoing home health and medical care, including rehabilitation
  • Future medical bills
  • Prescription costs
  • Pain and suffering
  • Scarring and disfigurement

With additional, other out-of-pocket expenses, an already tragic accident on the slopes at Sierra Ski Ranch or another noteworthy ski resort can become quite expensive and heartbreaking. However, an injury attorney may be of assistance.

What to Do in the Worst Ski Lift Accidents

 

Although the worst ski lift accidents may ultimately result in death, there are specific steps that a victim or bystander should take in any ski lift accident. Although most hope they will never need to participate or assist in a dire situation on the slopes, their or another person’s life might depend upon their actions. Follow these basic steps:

  1. Stay calm.
  2. Contact the ski patrol or 911.
  3. Gather the witness names, contact information, and statements.
  4. Document the incident through photos or video.

The injured person or their family member should have a physician evaluate the damages and contact a lawyer for advice and possible future representation.

How to Conduct Oneself During a Ski Lift Malfunction

 

A cable car or ski lift malfunction is a serious event that could potentially have long-lasting ramifications regardless of how riders handle it. Choosing a self-rescue is a recipe for disaster.

  1. First, chairs are usually dangling about 30 feet off the deck. A jump from that height could have devastating consequences.
  2. Second, if the skier opts to climb the cables to an area closer to the ground, there is the genuine possibility that the lift will begin moving again, and they will be forced to jump anyway. This is especially true if it stalled due to a short power outage or other minor malfunction.
  3. If they choose to do nothing, and the weather is extreme, they may suffer from frostbite or even hypothermia when stranded on a lift for hours.

A significant malfunction may take the resort hours to repair. Fortunately, it is in their best interest to ensure the safety of each skier and get them safely off the lift as quickly as possible. If the weather isn’t too bad, riders may have to wait as the chairlift engineering crew determines the proper plan of action.

If temperatures are dangerously low, they will likely attach a personal safety rope and evacuate each lift individually back down to patrol or the upper station.

What to Do After an Accident on the Slopes

Resorts do everything in their power to avoid ski lift accidents, but those inadvertently experiencing this harrowing incident are often due compensation for injuries and expenses. Therefore, it is essential to consult with Colorado injury lawyers like Combs & Brown Law Firm, who have experience handling Colorado accidents on ski lifts. They can help passengers determine if the ski resort, lift operator, manufacturer, or lift engineer contributed to their resulting injuries and begin taking action.