Can I Sue for Personal Injury From a Ski Chairlift Accident?

December 21, 2021

Ski resorts are popular holiday destinations in the winters, and people from all quarters of the local communities and from abroad are drawn towards them with a craze like no other. Whether you like to glide across the snowy surface without limit, or simply want to see the beauty of the snow-white landscape unfold before your eyes, or if you want to get a taste of the icy atmosphere, ski resorts have their doors open for you.

The thrill is unparalleled, the joy of being there with the people you love and not having a worry in the world is all too welcoming. However, accidents have a nasty habit of occurring when you least expect them. Though generally riding a ski chairlift or tram is considered safe but this does not exclude the possibility of an accident completely.

There are several other ways in which you can get injured during your ski resort trip (but our primary concern for this article will remain chairlift accidents), and if something like this happens due to the negligence of the management staff of the place you visited then you can pursue legal action against them.

You can demand monetary settlement for a personal injury claim if you were injured in a ski chairlift accident, and in this article, we will cover all the relevant details to help you get started. Read through this text to understand the risk associated with ski chairlifts, the damages incurred upon the victims (usually), recommended steps, and the possibility of seeking monetary compensation.

Ski Chairlift Accident Risks

Chairlifts are not risky rides per se, however, accidents do happen. Sometimes, people simply fall off these chairlifts, other times, some mechanical or technical issues result in accidents; generally, the stats for the former are not disclosed since state regulations don’t demand as such from ski resorts. However, such accidents and those due to mechanical issues are still worth your concern.

For instance, the data compiled by the National Ski Areas Association (NSAA) which spans over more than four decades, i.e. 1973-2016, gives us some insights into the risks associated with ski chairlifts. The data reveals that:

  • In this period, 12 people have died in such accidents
  • The total number of skiers to have used such services number at around 16.7 billion
  • The death rate/risk per 100 million is 0.14 fatalities
  • 115 cases of injuries due to ski chairlift malfunction have been recorded in this period
  • Of these, 79 cases resulted from chair rollback
  • De-ropement caused 17 injuries
  • 9 cases happened because of cross-arm weld failure
  • 6 cases happened because of grip failure
  • Chair detachment resulted in two injury cases
  • Two more injury cases were reported due to sheave failure
  • The number of injuries caused by fall over accidents is not known

Though the full extent of the risk remains a bit uncertain since the number of cases of falling off the chairlifts is not recorded by most ski resorts, this much is certain that there are some inherent risks. Thus practicing the necessary precautions is recommended (so that you don’t fall off from the ski chairlift), however, sometimes, an accident may not be preventable at all (on your end), i.e. chair lift malfunctions and mechanical failures leading to ski lift accidents.

Damages Incurred Upon The Victims In Ski Chairlift Accidents

The damages in ski accidents (i.e. ski lifts), as with other personal injury cases, are divided into three major categories: economic damages, non-economic damages, and punitive damages. Economic losses cover all the monetary damages such as medical bills, lost wages, loss of earning potential, and so on. The damages are simple to calculate as one merely has to sum up the numbers.

Non-financial damages, on the other hand, don’t have a numerical value – there is no way to assign a number to how much pain someone sustained because it is a subjective reality. However, based on the extent of the economic damages, one can deduce that the emotional distress and physical pain may have been intense too. Usually, a multiple between 1.5 and 5 is assigned to the sum of financial damages to get the total sum to be demanded in the settlement.

In some cases, one might even be able to demand extra compensation if some mal-intent or gross negligence was involved. Punitive damages serve to punish the liable party for their recklessness and to deter similar negligence/mal intent in the future. Even though these are not always guaranteed, but you can still fight for them in some cases.

What To Do After Such A Case?

Your actions following such an incident will make a huge difference in the outcome of your case. You need to muster up the last vestiges of your strength to complete some meaningful steps at this stage. The victim might, most probably, not be in a state to do much at the moment but someone accompanying them can fill in this gap.

Or the victim may start on this route after they’ve received medical treatment and are feeling better:

  • The first thing to do would be to gather evidence of the occurrence at the accident scene, i.e. photos, videos, your lift tickets, etc.
  • You should also ask the eyewitnesses to this skiing accident for their contact information.
  • Note down the details of the incident and the responsible party (the ski area operators) who failed to uphold their standard of care.
  • Call the police and report the whole matter to them, including how you think the crash happened, emphasizing how reckless action compromised the degree of care, i.e. poor maintenance, manufacturing defect, etc.
  • Keep track of your monetary losses.
  • Journal your emotional distress and physical pain caused by the catastrophic injuries, i.e. knee injuries, brain injury, spinal injuries, leg fractures, internal injuries, and so on. Even if they sustained ordinary injuries, ski injury victims should take note of things.
  • Gather all the documented evidence and seek legal advice from an attorney at law.
  • Seek a settlement with the insurance company or file a personal injury lawsuit.

Your personal injury lawyer will guide you through the rest of the process. As for the amount of the compensation sum, well that varies based on the intensity of damage and other details of the case. Be sure to seek legal counsel before you settle with the liable party because otherwise, you might not know your position in the case and how much you deserve to get.

Also, don’t delay matters because there is a statute of limitations (time-limit) applicable in such cases.

Bottom Line

At Michael Kelly, our personal injury attorneys are always looking forward to helping clients in troublesome situations. We work on a contingency fee basis which means that we won’t ask for any upfront payments for legal representation; just give us a call without any obligations and discuss your case with our personal injury attorney in a free legal consultation session.

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Michael D. Kelly has a diverse background that provides a breadth of legal knowledge that he draws upon in serving his clients. Kelly compiled an excellent academic record during his three years at New England Law in Boston.