After California, Texas has the greatest number of skiers and snowboarders. But since Texas doesn’t have any ski areas, Texans must travel to enjoy winter sports—usually to Colorado, New Mexico, Utah, Wyoming, and Montana.
That said, Texas does not have a dedicated ski safety statute. Rather, ski and snowboard injury lawsuits against negligent skiers, snowboarders, and ski area operators are governed by the law of the state in which the accident occurs.
Duties and Liability of Skiers and Boarders
In general, skiers and snowboarders must ski within the range of their abilities, heed all warnings, maintain a proper lookout, control their speed and course, and generally avoid skiing in a manner that could cause injury. A skier or boarder must not overtake another skier or snowboarder except to avoid contact and grant the right of way to the overtaken person who is down the slope. When a ski collision occurs, the uphill skier is presumed to have had the best opportunity to avoid the collision and is generally held responsible.
If involved in a ski collision resulting in injury or death, skiers and snowboarders must not leave the scene of the collision before giving their name and contact information to the injured person, an employee of the ski area operator, and/or the Ski Patrol—except to secure aid for the injured person(s). A skier or snowboarder who leaves an accident scene to secure aid must provide his or her name and contact information after securing the aid.
Violations of the applicable ski law causing property damage or injuring another skier, boarder, or tramway passenger—such as a collision with another skier or boarder—could result in a civil lawsuit by the injured person against the negligent person or ski area operator.
Duties and Liability of Ski Area Operators, Ski Equipment Manufacturers, and Ski Equipment Rental Shops
Under most states’ ski laws, ski area operators must properly hire and train their employees, maintain an effective and informative signage system throughout the ski resort for the protection and instruction of skiers and snowboarders, prominently mark vehicles, equipment, and ski slope obstacles, close ski areas with dangerous conditions, and operate and maintain their ski areas in a safe and efficient manner.
Ski area operators and their employees, including Ski Patrol members, whose negligent actions or negligent failure to act cause property damage or injury to a skier or snowboarder, may be held accountable by the injured person or damaged property in a court of law. The same is true for negligent ski equipment manufacturers and rental shops.
Compensation for Injured Skiers, Boarders, and Tram Passengers
Under state ski laws, an injured skier or snowboarder (and sometimes, the family of a person injured or killed while skiing) may sue for compensation for his or her injuries because of the negligence of another skier, snowboarder, or ski area operator. The types of damages recoverable include loss of earnings, lost employee benefits, damage to the ability to earn money in the future, loss of time, household expenses, medical and hospital expenses, home and vehicle modification (such as adding a wheelchair ramp, etc.) and other out-of-pocket expenses, permanent injury and disability, physical pain and suffering, physical impairment, mental and emotional pain and suffering, inconvenience, emotional stress, impairment of the quality of life, loss of consortium, loss of affection, loss of lifestyle, loss of society, loss of companionship, loss of the aid and comfort of each other, and/or loss of the enjoyment of life.
We are experienced ski and snowboard injury attorneys. Although based in Houston, Texas, we have national law practices and represent injured skiers, snowboarders, and tramway passengers (and their families) throughout the United States.
If you or your loved one was seriously injured or killed while skiing, snowboarding, or riding a ski lift, contact us immediately. Gathering the evidence and interviewing witnesses before they leave the area, or their memories fade, is critical to maximizing your recovery. Time is short. The statute of limitations is running. Call us today.