The National Ski Areas Association (NSAA) estimates approximately 80 percent of skiers and snowboarders on United States ski slopes used helmets during the 2015-2016 ski season. Although ski helmets do not provide complete protection from head injuries, they do help reduce the severity of the injury.
Why are helmets important for skiers and snowboarders?
Even though there is no law requiring skiers and snowboarders to wear helmets, all skiers and snowboarders should wear one. Studies from Canada and the United States show a 29 percent and a 15 percent reduction in head injury risk, respectively.
While helmets cannot completely protect a skier from a severe or fatal head injury, in many cases a helmet is the difference between a mild head injury and a traumatic brain injury.
How do I find the right helmet?
Before you even try on a helmet, look for the certification that shows it meets one of these three standards of quality:
- European Conformity (CE)
- American Society of Testing and Materials (ASTM)
- Snell Memorial Foundation (SMF)
These agencies and foundations test and evaluate commercially marketed ski and snowboard helmets for high levels of safety. Manufacturers consider SMF testing the most rigorous.
Once you have identified helmets that meet at least one of these standards, you need to test the helmet for the proper fit. It helps to bring your goggles along so you can test how the helmet fits with them on. The helmet must fit snugly on your head but not so tight that it hurts. With the chin strap secured, it should not wiggle too much and should stay in place.
Note: Take your ski cap off before ensuring your helmet fits. Most helmets are insulated and should keep your head warm while skiing or snowboarding.
What are the best ski helmets?
New models of ski helmets come out every year, and as safety technology improves so do the helmets. The latest ratings from ski enthusiasts and ski product review websites claim the following helmets are some of the best rated for the 2016-2017 ski season.
- Smith Vantage
- Smith Variance
- POC Receptor Bug
- Bern Watts EPS
- Giro Seam
- Giro Montane
- Giro Range
Ski helmets can be expensive, so it is worth the time to try on several different models before making a purchase. Check with established ski shops at your ski resort to find out if they rent out helmets and demo a few different rentals to find the one that fits best for you.
How do ski helmets alter liability for ski accidents?
Ski or snowboard accident victims who do not wear a helmet can have a difficult time seeking damages as the insurance company will argue that the injuries would have been diminished if a helmet had been used. However, regardless of helmet use, if another person’s negligence caused your ski accident, you should be eligible to file an injury claim.
When you work with a Colorado ski accident brain injury lawyer, your lawyer can argue that you would not have suffered any injury if it was not for the other party’s negligence, and your helmet use is irrelevant.
Another potential claim of liability can come if the helmet is defective or damaged. We work with industry experts to determine how effective a damaged helmet can be in an accident.
Defective helmets are not uncommon. In 2016, the Head ski helmet company recalled 440 ski helmets that did not comply with the impact requirements of the above listed safety standards. Helmet defects can happen for several reasons, and if we can prove your defective helmet caused you to suffer more severe injuries, you might have a claim against the helmet manufacturer.
Ski Head Injuries Are On the Rise — Protect Yourself
Jasper Shealy, professor at Rochester Institute of Technology, believes the continued increase in ski head injuries, in spite of increased helmet use, is due to skiers engaging in behavior that is more reckless. Skiers seem to think they are bulletproof because they wear a helmet.
When a ski accident occurs due to the negligence of another person, you have the right to pursue an injury claim. Sears & Associates, P.C. is a Colorado law firm with offices in Vail and Colorado Springs. Our head injury attorneys are here to help you recover damages after a ski accident or the loss of a loved one on a ski trip.
Call 719-471-1984 to schedule a free consultation to discuss your legal options.