Ski Accidents and Time Limits for Filing a Lawsuit

Every personal injury lawyer - good, bad or indifferent - is required to abide by time limitations imposed by laws in the particular state in which they practice. Commonly referred to as a Statute of Limitations, these time limitations determine the ability of an injured party to file a claim against an alleged negligent party in the first instance: the claim must be brought within the time frame specified or the claim is lost.

Statute of Limitations for Ski Accidents

The Statute of Limitations varies from state to state. It can, at times, be “tolled” (extended) and also shortened by statute. The shortening of the statute is especially true in negligence cases dealing with ski accidents. In states that have enacted Ski Safety statutes – which are meant to limit the liability of the ski operator – the Statute of Limitations is often altered to make the window of time to file a lawsuit shorter than the state’s negligence action for personal injuries sustained from a car accident or slip and fall accident. That is not always the case, but any attorney or accident victim would be advised to double check their state statute if they believe that they have a case that can be brought. If an injured party (or an attorney on their behalf) fails to bring an action within the time framed specified under that state’s law, the action is forever time barred. It would be a horrible scenario if a person that was legitimately injured in a ski accident was unable to file a claim simply because they or their attorney failed to check the state’s Ski Safety statute.

Ski Safety Laws Differ From State To State

Thus far, 22 states have enacted Ski Safety Statutes. For example, in Colorado the Ski Safety Act (Title 33-44-111) explicitly states that an action must be brought within 2 years after the claim for relief arises, and not thereafter. This statute does not alter the Colorado Statute of Limitations for a negligence case. New Hampshire, however, shortens the Statute of Limitations from the state’s negligence action of 3 years to 2 years in actions involving a violation of their Ski Safety statute (Title XIX Chapter 225-A:25). The state of California does not have a Ski Safety statute per se, even though it is one of the states with the largest amount of participants in the sport. They have statutes for Tramways and their personnel governed under the Department of Labor laws. But individual counties in California have enacted ski safety ordinances to try and protect their resorts. Placer County, home to 11 ski resorts, has codified the duties of a skier and actually makes it a misdemeanor if non-compliance is found.

What does all this mean? It means skiers beware. Your participation in this wonderfully thrilling outdoor sport comes saddled with restrictions lurking around every turn and over every mogul. If you are injured in a ski accident and you believe someone else’s negligence is the cause, check the applicable state Statute of Limitations right away to find out how much time you have to file a claim, should you decide to do so. Be alert and be aware. A personal injury attorney can help assess your claim and determine how much time you have to file it.