Winter Sports and Personal Injury Claims
One of the biggest benefits of being a Maryland resident is getting to experience all four seasons and the various activities that come with them. While some may dislike the colder temperatures and snowfall that accompany the winter months, many enjoy partaking in snow sports, such as skiing and snowboarding. Skiing and snowboarding can be exhilarating, but the risk for injury can be high. Many injuries are accidental, but some injuries may result from someone else’s actions. Here, the Baltimore personal injury attorneys at Peter Angelos Law provide insight on how to seek compensation for an injury caused by collisions with another skier or snowboarder.
Proving Fault in a Winter Sport-Related Personal Injury Claim
As with all personal injury claims, fault must be established if you’re injured by another skier or snowboarder. The fact that you were run over or into by another skier or snowboarder does not mean that the individual is liable for damages. Most states have a negligence standard to govern the conduct of skiers and snowboarders on the slopes, generally following the responsibility code outlined by the National Ski Areas Association (NSAA).
How To Prove Negligence in a Winter Sport-Related Personal Injury Claim
Negligence, by definition, means failing to act with reasonable care. In the context of a skiing or snowboarding personal injury, this includes breaking one of the components of the NSAA’s responsibility code:
- Always stay in control, and be able to stop or avoid other people or objects.
- People ahead of you have the right of way. It is your responsibility to avoid them.
- You must not stop where you obstruct a trail or are not visible from above.
- Whenever starting downhill or merging into a trail, look uphill and yield to others.
- Always use devices to help prevent runaway equipment.
- Observe all posted signs and warnings. Keep off of closed trails and out of closed areas.
- Prior to using any chair lift, you must have the knowledge and ability to load, ride, and unload safely.
This code outlines what constitutes safe, responsible skiing and snowboarding, and is widely accepted across the winter sporting community. Most ski areas post this code in easily accessible places, such as on the chair lifts and on lift tickets.
In order to prove that another skier or snowboarder’s negligence lead to your injury, it must be established that they acted without reasonable care and violated one or more of the elements of the responsibility code. However, there are instances where an element of the code is violated but negligence does not apply. If two beginner skiers are cautiously and slowly going down a beginner slope in good weather with good visibility but suddenly lose their balance and find themselves colliding with each other, there is no fault to either skier because both were acting with reasonable care.
Recklessness and Winter Sport-Related Personal Injury Claims
In addition to negligence, recklessness may be used to determine fault in a skiing or snowboarding personal injury. A reckless action is more “unreasonable” than a negligent action and occurs when a person knows or should know that their action is likely to be unsafe, yet they choose to go through with the action anyway. For example, if an experienced snowboarder was on a beginner slope going too fast and collided with an inexperienced skier from behind, the snowboarder would not have been acting with reasonable care and could then be found reckless. The experienced snowboarder knew that he was skiing in a beginner-designated area and knew that he was traveling at a high speed. It is his responsibility to yield to those in front of him, according to the responsibility code outlined by the NSAA.
Damages in a Winter Sport-Related Personal Injury Claim
Similar to a car accident personal injury claim, if another skier or snowboarder acts negligently or recklessly and injures you, you may be entitled to damages. Your damages may include the reasonable value of your medical bills, lost earnings and earning capacity, as well as pain and suffering associated with the accident.
Consult With An Experienced Maryland Personal Injury Attorney
Like all sports, skiing and snowboarding come with an inherent risk of injury. However, if your injury was the result of another individual’s negligence or recklessness, you may be entitled to compensation. While monetary compensation does not erase the pain inflicted from your injury, it can help with medical bills and cover any lost earnings. Due to the nuanced nature of personal injury claims, it is imperative that you seek reputable legal counsel. Contact an experienced personal injury attorney at Peter Angelos Law today.