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How is Liability Determined in Skiing and Snowboarding Accidents?

Posted on April 9, 2023 in

Even though individuals hit the slopes for recreation and exercise, there are times when accidents occur. Any person who skis or snowboards regularly knows that there are risks, and one of those risks is colliding with other skiers or snowboarders. When another skier or snowboarder causes the collision and injuries, or if a person sustains an injury due to faulty ski resort equipment, victims deserve compensation. Here, we want to discuss how liability is determined after a skiing or snowboarding accident on the slopes.

Determining Fault Can Get Complicated

Fault after a skiing or snowboarding incident is challenging to determine, often because these claims devolve into a “he said, she said” type of situation. Perhaps this was best demonstrated by the recent skiing accident case involving actress Gwyneth Paltrow. This case examined a 2016 ski collision between Paltrow and another man, Terry Sanderson. Mr. Sanderson, a retired optometrist, filed a lawsuit against Paltrow for what he claimed were long-lasting injuries caused by her colliding with him at the Deer Valley Resort in Park City, Utah.

Ultimately, it was found that Paltrow did not cause Mr. Sanderson’s injuries. She won the case, but it wasn’t easy to do. Both parties ended up in court, and this case dragged on for more than seven years.

How Do You Determine Fault After These Incidents

Determining fault after a snowboard or ski incident involves gathering as much evidence as possible at the scene of the incident. No two ski or snowboard accidents are exactly alike, so the types of evidence available for one claim may not necessarily be available for another. However, some of the most common types of evidence gathered immediately after an incident and used to determine fault include:

  • Photographs taken of any injuries or damaged equipment
  • Photographs of ski or snowboard tracks leading to the collision area
  • Possible video surveillance from nearby cameras or body cams
  • Statements from those involved in the incident
  • Statements from eyewitnesses

Even with all of this evidence, it can still be challenging to determine liability. If no one else saw the incident, and if there is not much evidence to go by, it may be necessary to work with medical and accident reconstruction experts.

Medical experts can examine the injuries of those involved and give a decent accounting of the trajectory and level of force required for the level of trauma that occurred. Additionally, based on the evidence that is available and the injuries and any property damage involved, an accident reconstruction expert can use complex computer 3D renderings to help piece together what likely occurred.

Overall, personal injury claims are challenging. Any person involved in a ski or snowboard accident should reach out to a skilled personal injury lawyer as soon as possible. For a personal injury claim, an injury victim and their attorney have to show that the actions of the defendant more likely than not led to the injuries in question.

An attorney can get an investigation going quickly, which includes obtaining all the evidence needed to prove liability, speaking to eyewitnesses, and handling insurance carriers or other parties involved.