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Ski Accident Law: Defined

Ski accident law is a specialized area of personal injury law. We asked Jim Chalat, a Colorado attorney with over 30 years experience whose practice focuses on personal injury, and particularly ski accident law, to explain how it works. Here's what he told us in a recent interview:

Ski law is state law and varies from one jurisdiction to the next. The duties of care and the responsibilities of skiers and ski area operators and lift operators differ in each state. So, you can have an accident in Colorado, California or New York in which the facts are identical, but the legal outcomes will vary.

Ski law dates back to the mid 1950s with the growth of the industry. There are about 50 million skier visits per year at resorts and mountains across the United States. Given the typical accident rate, that will generate about 100,000 injuries annually.

Ski accident injuries

Chalat says that most injuries are not going to be medically serious and will be the result of skiers pushing their own limits or trying to improve their skills. He explained, "A small percentage of them are a result of either the ski area operator's negligence in causing the injury to the participant either when they're going uphill on a lift or downhill on skis. About five percent of those injuries will be caused by other skiers or snowboarders colliding into the victim."

Chalat's firm handles all types of ski accident injury cases across the nation. However, he says, "If the case arises out of state and somebody calls me and asks what they should do, oftentimes I'll refer them to good local lawyers. Although we handle ski cases from coast to coast, the cases in which I become involved outside of Colorado typically 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 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