Colorado Skiiing Injury Lawsuit: What Damages Can You Collect?

When you've been injured in a skiing or snowboarding accident, it's important to know what damages might be available to you and whether or not your state sets limits on what you can collect. Here's how it works in Colorado…

What damages are recoverable?

Damages in a skiing or snowboarding accident depend on the facts and circumstances of each case. However, possible recovery might include both economic (lost wages, lost earning capacity, medical bills, etc.) and non-economic damages (pain and suffering, emotional distress, loss of consortium, etc.). However, there are limits in Colorado.

Colorado damage limits

Most states have some form of damage limitations, according to Jim Chalat, a Colorado attorney with over 30 years experience whose practice focuses on personal injury, and particularly ski accident law. He explained Colorado's limits. "There are limitations in Colorado on pain and suffering damages which are capped at $250,000 for ski area operators. But in skier collision cases, the pain and suffering cap is $468,010. Colorado also has a "soft" cap of $1 Million on damages recoverable against a ski area operator which can be pierced for economic damages."

Ski operator bias

Chalat told us that it's important to note that Colorado protects its ski areas to such an extent that no other entity, except for a state or public agency of the state of Colorado, has such a limitation. He explained, "Medical doctors or medical practitioners are obligated to pay up to $300,000 for non-economic damages and the non-economic damage cap for ordinary negligence cases is in excess of $400,000. This just gives you an idea of how the scale is tipped in favor of the ski operator in Colorado."

Tipping the scale in your favor

Damages and damage caps are very complicated elements in ski accident cases and Chalat says that it's best to have a specialist address these issues. "Lawyers practicing in Pennsylvania, for example, would have no idea what the relevant or recoverable damages would be in a Colorado or Virginia ski case. The way in which the courts instruct juries and the way in which juries render verdicts are also very important and are unique to each state. It's important for a lawyer to be able to advise a client of the types of damages that might be available to him."

For injuries that occur outside of Colorado, Chalat says that his firm is always happy to help. He told us, "I want to make this point very strongly - most lawyers in the United States are competent, ethical and are conscious of their own limitations. They're happy to have the outside help so that the client is benefited by the thoughtful advice of somebody with experience in the matter. Oftentimes we're called and we're just asked to consult. We're happy to do that just as a professional courtesy for lawyers outside of the state of Colorado."

If you've been injured in a skiing or snowboarding accident, contact an experienced injury attorney whose practice focuses in this area of the law to discuss your situation, evaluate your options and find out more about potential damages. Consultations are free, without obligation and are strictly confidential.

Jim Chalat
Contributing Author: Attorney Jim Chalat Chalat Hatten & Koupal PC

Jim Chalat has been selected a Colorado SuperLawyer each year that members of the Colorado bar have been considered for the distinction. A Colorado lawyer since 1977, he is senior attorney of Chalat Hatten & Koupal, Denver Colorado. Mr. Chalat is Board Certified as a Civil Trial Advocate by the National Board of Trial Advocacy, a nationally esteemed organization, and is a sustaining member of American Trial Lawyers Association and Colorado Trial Lawyers Association. Mr. Chalat has published numerous professional articles, including the definitive articles on U.S. ski law and Colorado ski law. He has frequently been interviewed as a national expert on ski litigation, and he is also a popular speaker for Continuing Legal Education, speaking on ski litigation, attorney ethics and malpractice, and general trial tactics.

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Article last updated or revieewed on June 19, 2018

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