Skiing & Sports Injuries – Legal Help In Colorado
Sports & Ski Injury Lawyer
Sports & Skiing Accidents
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Contrary to what many of us may think, we may be entitled to compensation in case of a sports-related injury, despite the fact that we voluntarily chose to pursue this sport. While strenuous physical activity does come with the risk of injury, it is not always the case that participants must assume all related risks.
As a plaintiff in a sports injury lawsuit, you will need to overcome this legal presumption, which is commonly referred to as “assumption of the risk.” Even so, you may still be entitled to recover monetary damages if you or a loved one have been hurt in a sports accident due to the negligence of another.
Sports Accidents and Injury Law
Sports injuries are a complicated area of law. They call for strict adherence to various procedural rules and the meticulous collection, documentation, and presentation of evidence, much of which will be of a medical nature. Therefore, if you have suffered an injury in the context of a sporting or recreational activity involving someone else’s negligent actions, it is highly recommended that you consult with an experienced personal injury lawyer in this field. Legal Help in Colorado has handled many sports accident cases successfully, and our legal team is here to discuss your individual situation and offer you guidance regarding the possibility of seeking compensation to cover the cost of your medical care and other expenses.
Winter and Other Sports Injuries
The most common injuries occurring from sports and recreational activities are sprains and strains, but experiencing a sports injury can have far more serious consequences. These range from bone fractures, dislocations, concussions, spine and cord injuries, and ligament tears, to brain injuries–which are, in fact, the leading cause of deaths resulting from sports injuries.
The State of Colorado, with the Rocky Mountains cutting straight through it, is one of the most popular destinations in the United States for winter sports. It boasts numerous resorts and slopes for skiers and snowboarders alike. Skiing and snowboarding, like many other sports, such as river rafting, bicycling, skateboarding, football, and soccer, are a great way of physical exercise and offer participants the opportunity to socialize with others. Unfortunately, they also present many inherent dangers. You can be well aware of these dangers and take reasonable precautions, however, we all also depend on the conduct of others—be it on the slope or the playing field. Particularly when it comes to winter sports, the reckless and negligent behavior of other skiers and snowboarders is often a significant contributor to related accidents, whereas there is a lot that can also go wrong with regard to the maintenance of the premises and related machinery.
All types of sports have the potential for injury. Particularly when it comes to children, the statistics are sobering: according to Stanford Children’s Health, about 30 million children and teens participate in some form of organized sports in the US, presenting more than 3.5 million injuries each year. These actually make up almost one-third of all injuries incurred in childhood .
Injuries cannot always be avoided in our lives. Sports injuries are clearly not uncommon, with ski collisions, for example, regarded by many as the equivalent of road traffic accidents in the mountains. In cases where a sports injury has occurred due to someone else’s fault, determining who might be held liable is not a straightforward matter. The assistance of a personal injury lawyer who is knowledgeable in this field can be critical in helping you determine whether and how you can potentially seek to recover damages.
The Colorado Ski Safety Act
Given the popularity of skiing, snowboarding, and other related sports activity in the U.S. and in our state, there are special legal provisions in place by virtue of the Colorado Ski Safety Act . The Act was put in place to establish reasonable safety standards, as well as define the rights, responsibilities, and liabilities of both skiers and ski area operators.
In broad terms, Colorado’s Ski Safety Act recognizes the existence of certain dangers inherent in the sport of skiing. Consequently, it effectively limits the liability of ski area operators by granting them immunity for injuries resulting from any inherent dangers and risks. There are seven categories of hazards listed in the Act, meaning those dangers or conditions that are part of the sport, with some further examples of what each of them may entail:
- Changing weather conditions.
- Snow conditions as they exist or may change.
- Surface or subsurface conditions such as bare spots, forest growth, rocks, stumps, streambeds, cliffs, extreme terrain, trees and other natural objects, and collisions with such natural objects.
- Impact with natural and man-made objects commonly encountered on the slopes—for example, lift towers, signs, posts, fences or enclosures, hydrants, water pipes, and so on.
- Variations in steepness or terrain, whether natural or as a result of slope design, snowmaking, or grooming operations.
- Collision with other skiers.
- Failure of skiers to ski within their own abilities.
In practical terms, the Act gives operators an incentive to mitigate the risk that skiers face and protect them within their ski areas. Many ski area operators do go to great lengths to alleviate the related risks, yet this does not hold true for everyone. The Act explicitly recognizes that ski area operators should not enjoy full immunity from liability for injuries that occur due to their own negligent or reckless actions, while also making it clear that such liability is not unlimited either.
Therefore, the question of whether you can seek compensation—and which party or parties you could potentially turn against—involves careful consideration of a number of factors. An experienced personal injury lawyer is the best person to help you if you have been injured while engaging in winter sports activities.
Liability varies from case to case and there is absolutely no way anyone can provide a responsible answer unless they go over the particular details of your individual case with you.
Generally speaking, sports injuries usually occur when there is a collision of sorts with another person—such as, for example, with another skier—or when a piece of equipment, such as a ski lift, malfunctioned. The main challenge in sports injury cases is to prove that this was caused intentionally, meaning that it was not simply an accident, which is why negligence and/or recklessness are of the essence.
In addition to having to prove that there existed negligence on the part of the operator or another third party that led to your injury, it is equally important to determine who can be held liable. In the context of winter sports, for example, skiers and snowboarders are responsible for exercising safe skiing practices. At the same time, ski area operators have a corresponding duty to act in a professional and safe way when operating lifts and equipment: they must mark trails, provide warnings, and maintain the efficacy of the equipment. Consequently, if a ski area operator fails to meet their duty of care and you end up being injured as a result of this, they may be held responsible for any damages incurred.
Likewise, in other sports injury cases, it is possible that liability may fall on a number of different parties. If, for example, your child participates in a school soccer team and suffers an injury due to improper coaching, both the coach and the school, who owe a duty of care toward the protection of your child, may be held liable. Similarly, if the training takes place in another facility, the owners of that facility may also be held liable, whereas it is possible that the individual who caused the sports injury in question could be liable, too.
Potentially liable persons or entities will often try to show that their duty of care was not breached by asserting that they made all reasonable efforts to prevent any foreseeable injury. They will try to convince the court that your injury was caused due to an unintentional accident rather than negligence or recklessness on their part. If proof is submitted showing that they carried out their duties with the required level of care, took appropriate steps to mitigate risks, provided a safe environment, and properly maintained the equipment, it is likely that they will bear no liability.
A potentially liable person or entity may also require you to sign a liability waiver before participating in the sporting or recreational activity in question. As is generally the case, businesses request participants in such activities to relinquish their right to a personal injury lawsuit in the event they are injured in the course of such activities.
By signing such a waiver, you are effectively assuming the related risk. These waivers, which are also referred to as release forms, exist precisely to protect professionals or businesses from lawsuits if you are injured or harmed. They essentially absolve them against claims of reasonable negligence for any injuries resulting from your engagement in certain types of risky activities.
Even so, you may still be able to file a successful lawsuit. Release forms need to comply with certain standards, hence their strength will depend on a number of factors: should a court find that the waiver you signed was deficient, it may not be enforceable, thus enabling you to hold the third party in question liable. After all, waivers are a type of contract, and contracts can be found invalid by courts of law depending on each case’s particular circumstances. For example, it may be deemed that your situation involves a company that has been grossly negligent or exhibited a severe disregard for safety, or that it falsely represented a service or activity.
In any event, reaching out to an experienced personal injury attorney will enable you to explore your options and receive advice, as there are certain cases where such release forms are not enforceable. Moreover, it might be the case that it was actually a defective product that caused your injury, in which case your attorney may advise you to sue the product manufacturer.
Statute of Limitations
Personal injury laws in Colorado, including the Ski Safety Act, limit the liability of third parties for sports-related injuries by putting in place a two-year statute of limitations for actions to recover damages.
Therefore, bear in mind that you will have two years to file a lawsuit after suffering a sports-related injury. Failing to do so will most likely mean that you will be barred from taking your claim to court, although certain exceptions may apply, mostly relating to the actual discovery of the injury and its effects.
Lastly, Colorado has a cap on the amount of compensation that may be sought for damage suffered due to a sports injury caused by the negligence of another. This is currently set at $1 million . This amount includes damages for economic as well as non-economic loss and can be extended under specific circumstances.
Contact Legal Help in Colorado
The legal team at Legal Help in Colorado is experienced in dealing with sports injury cases. Our contingency payment policy means that we only get paid when we win your case. If you or a loved one has suffered a sports-related injury due to another party’s negligence, even if you have signed a related liability waiver, you may still have a right to seek compensation. Get in touch with Legal Help in Colorado or call now (303) 351-2567 for a free consultation. We will discuss your individual case and advise you on your options for recovering damages.
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