Navigating the Legal Slopes of ColoradoRequest Free Consultation
Hello, fellow ski and snowboard enthusiasts! As winter creeps upon us and we dust off our equipment for the upcoming season, let’s take a look at our rights and duties on the beautiful slopes scattered around the Centennial State. Grab your hot cocoa, lace up your boots, and join us on a ride through the exciting world of Colorado ski laws, where mountain adventures meet legal landscapes, and knowing your way around isn’t just savvy, it’s slope-smart.
Despite the joy we experience as we float through fresh powder or duck into a tight tree run, we have to admit that skiing and snowboarding are inherently dangerous activities. Hopefully, most of us who participate in mountain sports have only experienced minor bumps and bruises from hitting an ice patch or catching an edge, but there are many other ways we could be more seriously injured on the slopes. If you’re reading this article, perhaps you are one of the unfortunate individuals who has been clipped in the lift line or collided into from behind by an out-of-control skier or snowboarder. When someone else causes your injury, it’s important to know your rights and how to seek justice. The Colorado Ski Safety Act
You need to know the limits of your skills and it is your responsibility to ski within your skill level. By skiing, you accept the risk of and all legal responsibility for any injury to a person or property resulting from the inherent risks of skiing. You can sue another skier for any injury to a person or property resulting from the other skier’s acts or failure to act.
- Any collision between skiers is neither an inherent risk nor a risk assumed by a skier in an action by one skier against another;
- You must maintain control of how fast you are going and be aware of others on the hill, but the primary duty for you when you are going downhill is to avoid collision with any skier below;
- Don’t ski where it says you can’t;
- Stay clear of lift towers, vehicles, snow blowers, other equipment, etc.;
- You are presumed to have read and heeded to all posted signs and that you won’t act in a manner that may cause or contribute to an injury to another skier;
- You have to wear tethers;
- Don’t cross a J-bar, T-bar, platter pull, or rope tow track except where you are allowed to;
- When you get off the lift and are about to hit the slope, you have a duty to avoid moving skiers already on the slope;
- You can’t use any sort of lift or use any ski slope if your ability to do so is impaired by drugs/alcohol;
- If you get in a collision in which there is an injury, you have to stay put and give your information to an employee unless you leave to get aid for the injured skier. You still have to give your information after getting help;
- Don’t ski out of bounds; and
Summary of Colorado Ski Safety Act (CRS 33 Article 44)
Applies to both Skiers & Snowboarders
Colorado Revised Statute (CRS) 33-44-109 addresses the duties of skiers at Colorado ski resorts. It advises that:
If you violate any of the provisions of subsection (3), (9), (10), or (11) you are guilty of a class 2 petty offense and if convicted can be fined up to $1,000.
The Colorado Ski Safety Act provides the rights and responsibilities of those on the slopes while also administering a legal framework that governs ski and snowboard injuries. There are a number of legal theories that could provide for damages when an injury occurs, so it is important to consult with an attorney as soon as possible after an injury on a ski hill. An attorney who specializes in personal injury cases can evaluate the specifics of a situation, advise on potential legal remedies available, and help navigate the legal process. If at all possible, document the incident as thoroughly as possible by giving a detailed report, taking photos (area, injuries, conditions, etc.), and getting information from potential witnesses.
1. Negligence Claims: If the injury is caused by the negligence of a ski resort, its employees, or another skier, the plaintiff must prove the following:
- The resort or another party owed a duty of care;
- There was a breach of that duty through negligent actions or omissions;
- The breach directly caused the injury; and
- Actual damages were suffered
- Note – The Ski Safety Act limits the liability of resorts in certain situations, but gross negligence or willful misconduct may still be subject to legal action.
2. Premises Liability Claims: Resorts have a duty to maintain their property and facilities in a reasonably safe condition. If an injury occurs because of a hazardous condition, there may be a premises liability claim.
3. Inadequate Warning Claims: Resorts must provide clear warnings of potential risks and hazards. If a resort has not provided proper signage, warnings, or communication about dangerous conditions that led to an injury, there may be an inadequate warning claim.
4. Assumption of Risk: The Ski Safety Act includes the principle of “inherent dangers and risks of skiing.” What this means is that skiers and snowboarders assume certain risks associated with those activities. Some of those risks include the possibility of collisions, falls, or changes in weather. Assumption of risk may not apply if a resort’s conduct or omission goes beyond what is reasonably expected.
5. Waivers and Releases: Resorts often have some sort of liability waivers or releases. Sometimes they are in fine print on the back of passes. They can be posted at the ticket windows. And they can be hidden in those dreaded “terms and conditions” when purchasing a pass online. They may come in many other forms, but their enforceability can vary and be subject to legal interpretation. Colorado courts have held that waivers might not protect against claims of gross negligence or willful misconduct.
Each case is unique, and the application of laws can be complex. Seeking legal counsel is essential to understanding your rights, assessing the viability of a legal claim, and pursuing appropriate remedies for your injuries.
So there you have it, fellow snow aficionados! As we end our journey through the ins and outs of Colorado ski laws, remember that arming yourself with this knowledge is like waxing your board before hitting the slopes – it just makes things a little smoother. Whether you’re a daredevil seeking the ultimate thrill on black diamonds or someone who prefers the gentle slope of the bunny hill, understanding your rights and duties adds peace of mind to your mountain escapades. So, as you make your way down the freshly groomed runs, savor every moment, stay slope-smart, and may your adventures be as epic as the views!