Skiing and Snowboarding: Safety on the SlopesDecember 9, 2014
Whether you are looking to exercise, socialize, or just have a little fun, skiing and snowboarding are great ways to spend the day or weekend. But, due to the high-speed and high-impact nature of downhill sports, skiing and snowboarding can be quite dangerous. If you are planning on hitting the slopes this winter, whether out of state or at one of Ohio’s resorts, there are a few things that you should keep in mind.
We have previously discussed liability waivers on this blog. If you visit a ski resort this season, you are likely going to have to sign such a waiver before you can use the slopes. While Ohio law provides that liability waivers cannot absolve a business of liability for willful or wanton misconduct or for intentional tortious conduct, liability waivers are more often than not enforceable when injuries occur as the result of ordinary negligence.
Additionally, Ohio statutory and case law has made it clear that individual skiers assume the risks that ordinarily accompany skiing. In plain English, this means that you know when you go skiing that you might collide with another skier or hit an odd patch of snow or rock. Because you know what you are getting yourself into, your rights to recover for injuries are limited.
Those who suffer skiing or snowboarding injuries do have protections under the law, though. Ski area operators and fellow skiers may be liable for your injuries in some circumstances defined by statutory or common law. Because of this, if you or a loved one are injured while skiing or snowboarding and you believe the ski area operator or another skier is at fault, you should contact an experienced personal injury attorney to discuss your case.
Ideally, though, by practicing following these safety tips recommended by the National Ski Patrol, you will be able to prevent skiing accidents and enjoy the slopes:
- Prepare for conditions. Knowing what type of terrain you and your equipment can handle is extremely important when playing it safe. Know your ability level and where that appropriate terrain is on the mountain.
- Reduce your risk of injury. To reduce the risk of injury, always wear a helmet. Helmets can reduce your risk of head injury by 35-50%. You can avoid risk of injury in other ways too, including tuning your equipment, skiing with a friend, being aware of other skiers and riders on the slope and being aware of your surroundings and on mountain signage.
- Prevent emergency situations. Situations on the mountain can quickly turn into emergencies without warning. Unexpected weather changes, backcountry and side country skiing areas, and getting down the mountain with an injury are just a few factors that may turn into emergencies if you are not prepared. Preparing for situations such as these can help tremendously and can be as simple as being aware of weather forecasts, carrying a reliable communication device while on the mountain, snowboarding with a friend, and knowing how to contact Ski Patrol.