Wrongful Death from Ski Accident
When a ski trip ends in tragedy, know that you are not alone. Deaths on ski trips are rare, but they can happen, and when another party’s negligence is the cause of your loved one’s death, you have the right to take action.
How common are skiing deaths?
According to the National Ski Areas Association (NSAA), there were 39 fatalities during the 2015-2016 skiing season in the United States. Over the past 10 years, the industry average is about 38 deaths per season. Of the 39 fatalities this past season, 31 were skiers and seven were snowboarders, while one person’s equipment type was unknown.
Still, ski deaths can and do happen. One high profile skiing death was that of Natasha Richardson, a 45-year old actress.
Richardson fell while skiing at a resort in Quebec. After declining medical treatment at the infirmary, Richardson died two days later of an epidural hematoma suffered in the fall.
Richardson’s death was an accident, but mechanical errors cause their fair share of deaths each year.
A mechanical error on a ski lift caused a recent fatality at a Colorado resort and led to a wrongful death.
On December 29, 2016, a 40-year old skier died after the lift chair she was riding with her daughters struck a lift tower. After the collision, the three women fell about 25 feet where the mother ultimately died from blunt force trauma. Officials indicate the ski lift in the incident was the hazard that contributed to her death.
When is a death while skiing a wrongful death?
In the few cases of deaths while skiing, many are due to pre-existing medical conditions or personal errors. However, some deaths occur because other people or entities are negligent in assuring a skier’s safety.
For example, one of the most high-profile skiing deaths is musical star Sonny Bono who died in Aspen after hitting a tree when he went off course. Because Bono apparently decided to go off course on his own, officials ruled his death an accident without any wrongful aspect. Sheriff Ron Pierini said that many skiers go out of bounds in that area knowing its dangers.
This might have been a case of wrongful death if:
- A ski resort employee told the skier he could go into the dangerous area
- The resort failed to warn skiers of the dangers of skiing through the area
- The resort forgot to secure the dangerous area from skiers
A wrongful death can stem from more than a negligent ski instructor or missing signs or trail markers. A wrongful death from a skiing accident can be due to any of the following:
- A negligent lift operator
- A malfunctioning ski lift
- Faulty equipment
- Hazardous conditions on the property
Know Your Rights to Compensation If Your Loved One Died During a Ski Trip
Families of skiers and snowboarders who die on ski trips have the right to pursue a wrongful death claim if their loved one died due to preventable hazards.
Unfortunately, the ski resort or defective equipment manufacturer will not make it easy for you. They will likely claim that your loved one took on the risk by being on the slopes in the first place.
Sears & Associates, P.C. will not stand for that. We will ensure that you get the compensation you deserve for your loved one’s untimely death. We will investigate the accident and bolster your case against any of the defendant’s defenses. Schedule a free consultation at our Vail or Colorado Springs office today to discuss your options: 719-471-1984.