Skiers and snowboarders are responsible for skiing within their ability and remaining in control, avoiding downhill skiers. Ski law is state law – so each collision case is governed by the ski laws of the state in which the accident occurs. Twenty three states have specific ski liability statutes, and each differ substantially. But throughout the United States, laws hold skiers & snowboarders financially responsible to other skiers for negligent or reckless skiing resulting in a skier/skier collision.
Avoiding a Skier Collision
When skiing downhill, skiers typically assume risks inherent in the sport. However, skiers typically do not assume the risk of another skier’s negligence. The question of precisely which risks are “inherent”- especially in the context of modern, highly groomed, controlled, and heavily marketed skiing, – is debatable in many cases.
Colorado law presumes that the uphill skier is at fault in a collision accident, because the overtaking skier has the primary duty to avoid the skier below him or her. In this context skier refers to both alpine skiers and snowboarders. Thus, one of the key issues in any skier/skier case is who was the uphill or overtaking skier. The nature of the injury often gives substantial clues as to how the accident occurred, the speed at which the skiers were skiing, and the relative angles to each other. All skiers are under a general duty to ski cautiously, within their ability and to maintain control. The Colorado Ski Safety Statute provides that skiers are obliged to maintain a lookout. If one fails to ski in control or to maintain a lookout, the skier is negligent and responsible for the injuries and damages caused.
Colorado law, and ski safety acts in most other states, require individuals involved in skier/skier collisions to stop at the scene, render aid and to give their name, local address, permanent address and identification. But do not rely on ski patrol or ski area operators to obtain this information because, as a principle of law, they are under no duty to obtain the information. Although this absence of duty is under challenge, the courts are reluctant to impose an enforceable duty upon ski area operators to obtain identification information from reckless skiers.
Generally though, ski patrol will compile a relatively comprehensive report concerning the nature, location, and causes of a skier/skier collision which will then become evidence in the ski litigation.
Read case reports for recent ski collision cases.