Consider hiring an attorney who specializes in ski law
Believe it or not, many states have laws that are specific to skiing - some states even have statutes that will control a case when a skier has been injured. So, if you have been injured while skiing, it is important that you find an attorney who specializes in ski law. Personal injury attorneys who typically only handle auto accidents or malpractice cases might not have the expertise you need.
Be sure to obtain the name and contact information from the other skier or snowboarder involved
The law in some states actually requires that anyone involved in a ski or snowboard collision provide their name and current address before leaving the scene. Usually, ski patrol will take care of this for you. However, this isn't always the case, so if you have been hit and injured by another skier or snowboarder, be sure to get his or her name and contact information before they leave the scene.
Call or write the ski area and ask for a copy of any report that was filed
If you were taken off the slopes by ski patrol, the ski area should have some kind of report about your accident. You may have even filled out a witness statement or had a ski patroller write out your statement for you to sign. Usually, but not always, the ski area will cooperate and will provide you with a copy of the report. This can be helpful in deciding whether or not to pursue any redress for your injuries.
Have friends or family photograph the area
In some cases, photographs of where the incident occurred can be very helpful. If possible, have a friend or family member return to the area where the accident occurred in order to take pictures.
Save all of your paperwork and equipment
Try and save any paperwork that you receive in connection with the accident. This would include saving the ticket or season pass that you were using that day, saving any witness statement cards that you are given, saving any medical records that you receive at the hospital, and any medical bills that you receive. Also, if possible, try and preserve your skis, poles, or snowboard, especially if they were damaged in the accident.
Be careful if you are contacted by an insurance company
If you receive a phone call from an insurance company after your accident, be cautious about what you say, and remember that anything you say to an insurance adjustor might later be used against you. If you receive a phone call from an insurance company, you should cooperate to the extent you are comfortable, but you should also consider seeking advice from an attorney familiar with ski law before you engage in a substantive discussion about what happened.
Remember that skiing and snowboarding are not contact sports!
Many states recognize that, unlike football or other team sports, the risk of being hit by another participant while on the slopes is usually not a risk that you assume while skiing. If you have been injured in a collision with another skier or snowboarder, don't assume that your injuries were just "part of" the sport of skiing or snowboarding. Most states recognize that skiing is an individual sport and that being hit by others is not something that you should expect to encounter.
Insurance coverage is usually available for your injuries
Many people injured while skiing think that there is probably not any insurance that would provide coverage for their injuries. This isn't true. If you were hit by another individual and that person owns or rents a home, that person's homeowners or renters insurance will typically provide insurance coverage, up to a certain limit. Or, if you are injured by the fault of a ski area operator, ski areas usually have liability insurance that will cover your injuries. However, an insurance company will usually not pay your medical bills until they determine who is at fault. If you are contacted by an insurance company, it is best to discuss your case with a lawyer who specializes in ski law before you agree to accept money from anyone.
Help prevent injuries before they occur by wearing a helmet and skiing in control
Always wear a helmet while skiing or snowboarding. The death of Natasha Richardson while skiing in Canada is a stark reminder of the need for skiers and snowboarders to wear helmets on the slopes. The 45-year-old actress died from bleeding in her skull caused by a fall during a lesson. She was not wearing a helmet. And, always be sure to ski and snowboard in control, no matter where you are on the mountain. Be especially cautious when entering high-traffic areas of the mountain, or merging areas. And remember that the downhill skier has the right of way!
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