Understanding skiing/snowboarding accidents and negligence in New York

If people are injured while skiing or snowboarding, they may be able to hold others responsible for negligent behavior.

Winter is often a season that is dreaded by most people in New York City, but for skiers and snowboarders, the arrival of colder weather means it's time to head for the slopes. However, while these sports are extremely popular, they can also be the cause of serious injuries. Therefore, it is important for people to understand that they do have legal rights after an accident and they may be able to hold others financially responsible for their pain and suffering.

How common are skiing and snowboarding injuries/fatalities?

According to the National Ski Areas Association, it is estimated that during the season of 2011-2012 there were 510 serious injuries that occurred. The number of people who died from accidents in these sports amounted to 54 during that same season and on average the yearly rate is about 41.5 people.

What injuries are commonly associated with these sports?

The type of injuries people incur can vary, depending on whether they were skiing or snowboarding, ski-injury.com states. These include the following:

  • Injuries from alpine skiing - sprains are the most common, followed by fractures, contusions and lacerations
  • Nordic skiing (cross-country, telemark) - skier's thumb, collar-bone fractures, shoulder dislocation, ankle injuries, knee ligaments
  • Skiboarding - 35 percent of all injuries in this sport are fractures, making it the most common. Especially at risk are the knees, lower legs and ankles.
  • Snowboarding - Fractures are the leading injury in this sport as well, closely followed by sprains and contusions.

When people are seriously injured, they can suffer brain trauma, paralysis, broken bones and spinal cord injuries.

Can you file a lawsuit against another skier/snowboarder?

Participants of these sports are under a legal obligation to follow posted signs and behave in a manner that ensures the safety of others around them. However, accidents can still happen. Sometimes, people run into others accidently and these collisions can result in injury. If people can prove that the accident was caused by the reckless behavior of another skier or snowboarder, however, then they have the legal power to file a lawsuit for damages.

How is negligence proven?

Documenting the events that led to the accident is important in showing that another skier or snowboarder acted in a negligent manner. For example, maybe a snowboarder was showing off and doing tricks in an area designated for beginners. Perhaps a skier was going much faster than the posted sign recommended or failed to yield where he or she was supposed to. Taking photos of the run signs is a good start as well as using any video of the event or statements from witnesses that prove the other person was violating guidelines.

For people in New York who have been injured in a skiing or snowboarding accident, they may find it difficult to resume their former lifestyle. Therefore, they may want to contact Smiley & Smiley, LLP, to speak with an injury attorney experienced in handling these types of claims.