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Colorado Skiing Accidents: How Colorado Law Differs From Other States

Colorado is considered a leader in the skiing industry and skiing is such a vital part of its tourist economy that it enacted a statute in 1979 controlling the various rights, duties, responsibilities and liabilities of ski area operators and skiers - which includes snowboards, people on short skis, skinny skis or any type of downhill apparatus. However, Colorado's laws differ greatly from other states' laws. Here's how…

Colorado ski accident law

Colorado ski law tends to guide the nation, according to Jim Chalat, a Colorado attorney with over 30 years experience whose practice focuses on personal injury, and particularly ski accident law. In a recent interview, Chalat explained how. "Colorado tends to lead the country in being able to articulate what the duties and expectations of skiers and ski area operators should be because it has both a strong statute and a history of judicial decisions. This statute has been amended several times by the Legislature and has been considered by the Colorado Supreme Court on a number of occasions. They're published standards both in statute and in decisions by the Colorado Supreme Court. These decisions guide the nation in many ways with regard to the responsibilities and duties of skiers and ski area operators."

California & New York ski accident law

Chalat says that other states don't tend to handle ski accident law as well as Colorado and explained how California and New York address the issue:

  • California. There is no skier safety statute in California. As a consequence, the law has developed based upon decisions by the courts. The judicial decisions in California often are not in agreement with each other. Oftentimes, different appellate regions in California, for instance the north appellate division which governs the state law for the Lake Tahoe area, differs than appellate decisions down south out of Mono Lake and Mammoth.
  • New York. New York has a ski safety statute, but it has not been addressed on a regular basis by the appellate courts. Again, in New York, there's a difference between appellate divisions with regard to various duties and responsibilities of skiers and ski area operators.

Although every state has different laws and processes, Chalat's firm handles cases across the nation and he says that he often gets involved in cases outside of Colorado that involve catastrophic injuries and require a specialized knowledge of ski law in order to pursue the case successfully on behalf of the victim.

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