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Colorado Skiing Accidents: Do You Have A Personal Injury Lawsuit?

Ski accident law in Colorado is controlled by the Ski Safety Act. Whether or not you have a personal injury case will depend upon the Act, the facts and circumstances on the case and the counsel of an experienced ski accident attorney. Our Colorado ski accident expert explained how it works in a recent interview.

What causes of action might be involved in a ski accident lawsuit in Colorado?

To answer that question, we asked Jim Chalat, a Colorado attorney with over 30 years experience whose practice focuses on personal injury, and particularly ski accident law. Here's what he told us:

In Colorado, a ski case is controlled by the Ski Safety Act and therefore the question which is before the courts in most of these cases is whether or not there's been a violation of a pertinent provision of the Ski Safety Act. Whether one skier is uphill of the other in a skier on skier collision is typically controlling because in the statute, the skier who is overtaking or uphill has the duty to avoid the skier downhill.

That's a great example of the way that it works in Colorado and why you need to know what the statute. In a lift accident in Colorado, for instance, the Ski Safety Act requires the ski area operators to run their lifts and tows in compliance with a particular set of regulations which is set out under the Colorado Tram Way Safety Board. There are technical regulations with which the ski areas must abide. If they don't, then they can be held responsible.

Causes of action in other states

Chalat says that there is a common law negligence scheme in other states. "For example, in order to prove negligence in a Utah skier on skier collision case, one needs to prove that one skier made the activity more dangerous than one would ordinarily expect it to be in the ordinary cause of skiing in Utah. So there are different standards that need to be applied in each state. Again, this is another reason why one needs to talk to a specialist or someone with experience and the ability to do the research."

Understanding laws that prevent recovery

There are approximately 100,000 people injured in skiing and snowboarding accidents every year. Chalat says that many of these folks come to him and ask why they were hurt so badly and whether or not there is a way to recover. He explained, "A lot of times, we have to tell people in our practice that, although they were badly injured, the law doesn't provide for a remedy - and not just with ski cases, but in any number of cases. Quite honestly, in today's environment of business-favorable legislation and anti-personal injury plaintiff atmosphere, there are a lot of laws out there that prevent recovery. So, it's better for people to know that early on rather than hiring an inexperienced lawyer which can put them at risk for costs and fees."

If you've been injured in a skiing or snowboarding accident, contact an experienced injury lawyer 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