Although skiing is a fun and popular sport, it also carries some inherent risks. There are specific laws in Virginia that protect winter sports area operators and ski patrol workers from some liability when skiers get injured. However, this protection is not absolute.
If you or someone you love has been injured while skiing, an experienced Charlottesville ski accident lawyer could help determine whether you can file a lawsuit and fight for a positive outcome. If so, a hardworking injury attorney could help you build a strong claim for full and fair compensation.
According to Virginia’s good Samaritan laws in Va. Code Ann. §8.01-225, ski patrol workers who administer emergency assistance to injured skiers will not be liable for injuries that result from the emergency care they administer. The exception to this would be if the worker’s actions were tantamount to gross negligence or willful misconduct. In essence, this gives the ski patrol workers some protection against liability when they are trying to help injured skiers. However, this protection is not absolute. If a skier is injured and believes it may be due to the egregious conduct of a ski patrol worker, a seasoned lawyer in Charlottesville could assess whether there is a claim to be made.
Winter sports area operators have a specific requirement under the law to post a disclaimer and warning on their tickets, passes, contracts, at their ticket office, front desk, tramways, and other prominent locations stating the operator is not liable for injuries that are associated with the risk of the winter sport activity. Operators also have a statutory duty to install signs on lifts to indicate the difficulty of the ski trail at the top. Further, operators must post a sign at the beginning of any active trail when trail grooming or snowmaking is happening simultaneously. They are also required to meet specific lighting standards for night skiing.
Virginia law states that skiers are presumed to be assuming the inherent risks that come with participating in skiing and other winter sports. However, the law also states that skiers are not assuming the risk of an operators’ negligence. Additionally, a ski participant may offer evidence to show that he or she did not actually know of a particular risk of a winter sport that caused his or her injury and therefore did not knowingly assume that risk. Under these circumstances, the assumption of risk defense would be invalid, and the winter sports area operator could be liable.
Operators of winter sports areas have another shield against liability with a doctrine called contributory negligence. This defense applies if the skier caused his or her injury with his or her own negligence. If a court finds that the cause of the injury was the fault of the skier, the operator of the winter sports area will not be liable.
For those who have been injured in a ski accident due to an operator’s negligence, a Charlottesville attorney could assist with collecting evidence and formulating an argument to show that the accident was not part of the inherent risk of skiing or due to any contributory negligence. In tandem, a dedicated lawyer could work to demonstrate the negligence of the operator and establish liability to work toward a favorable resolution to the case.
If you have suffered a severe injury while skiing, it is essential to seek the appropriate medical care immediately and collect documentation of your harm. Although skiers are presumed to have assumed the risk of participating in a winter sport when they go skiing, recovery for injuries is still possible if the winter sports area operator was negligent. Call a Charlottesville ski accident lawyer today for a free consultation.