Recreational skiing and snowboarding present a series of risks to participants and bystanders alike. Snow accidents may inflict serious injuries onto a skier, including injuries to the spinal cord.

Colorado has enacted laws specific to skiing safety and ski resort liability. Athletes should know what legal actions to take if sustaining a spinal cord ski injury.

If you or a loved one has sustained a spinal cord injury while skiing, call Zinda Law Group at (800) 863-5312 for a free case evaluation with our ski injury accident attorneys.

What Are the Risks Associated with Skiing?

Skiing is inherently dangerous at every step of the process, with injuries occurring on lifts, slopes, and transport lines.

Ski resorts and transportation companies have long warned of the importance of skier responsibility when engaging in recreational activities involving snow. Safety information is typically available online. Statistically, skiers who follow the appropriate safety measures and instructions are very unlikely to be involved in a fatal accident. In 2016, only 54 mountain-goers were killed while skiing and/or snowboarding. Among the accidents that do prove to be fatal, most occur on groomed, intermediate runs or expert slopes, indicating that experienced skiers are much more likely to be involved in a fatal accident because of their greater propensity for risky behavior.

Although fatal accidents are relatively uncommon, especially for new skiers, the chances of being injured are much greater. In contrast to the small fatality rate, experts project that about 600,000 people nationally are injured each year while skiing or snowboarding. Injuries may vary depending on the specifics of the accident, but many carry permanent consequences for involved individuals. Regardless, experts claim that prevention is the best approach to snow safety. Skiers should take precautions to minimize their risk of injury before hitting the slopes.

What Are Some Common Skiing Injuries?

Depending on the specific type of impact or accident, skiers may suffer from a variety of injuries that range in severity and permanency. Additionally, pain may vary dramatically in intensity and frequency. Although many different injuries exist, there are a few that are particularly common in ski accidents. The most frequently treated injuries include:

1. Wrist Fractures

Skiing requires balance. Skiers must maintain their balance and personal equilibrium to avoid falls or crashes. Naturally, especially with first-time skiers, falls happen often on the slopes. During a fall, it is instinctual for humans to attempt to regain their balance and/or mitigate their injuries by reaching out for support. Often times, skiers use their hands and wrists to try and save themselves from particularly nasty falls. This action puts significant pressure on an athlete’s wrist, which may damage the wrist ligaments or even fracture the bone altogether. Wrist injuries can be severely limiting to an individual, especially those that enjoy regular physical activity.

2. ACL Tears

ACL tears are extremely common among athletes, with nearly 200,000 ACL ruptures per year in the United States alone. ACL, or the anterior cruciate ligament, is an important stabilizing ligament of the knee that is frequently injured by athletes and trauma victims. Generally, an athlete is most at risk for an ACL tear when engaging in high-impact activities that involve rapid maneuvering. These injuries occur when athletes pivot while standing or hyperextending their knee. Unsurprisingly, skiing requires sudden turns that put skiers at a greater risk for these tears. It may take months for an individual to recover from an ACL tear because many victims require extensive surgery to correct the issue.

3. Spinal Injuries

The spinal cord controls the body’s mobility. Unlike other injuries, spinal injuries typically occur in conjunction with injuries in other regions of the body. These injuries can lead to discomfort or even paralysis. Despite an increased discussion of the danger of spinal injuries, experts have had little success in spinal injury prevention for skiers.

4. Shoulder Injuries

Like wrist injuries, shoulder injuries are also particularly common in alpine sports. Skiers may reach high speeds when racing down a mountain, which increases the chances of a dramatic fall or collision. These collisions often force skiers to fall onto their shoulders, which may cause intense pain or discomfort. Due to the shoulder’s proximity to many other critical body structures, skiers who sustain a shoulder injury may also suffer from ligament, muscle, or tendon pain.

5. Concussions or Head Injuries

Head injuries are a leading injury in snow sports, with many skiers colliding with trees or rocks while running down a mountain. Head injuries, like other injuries, can range in severity. Regardless, head injuries require immediate medical attention, even if there appears to be no outward damage to the victim’s skull. Head injuries may cause internal bleeding and even death if left untreated.

6. Medial Collateral Ligament Tears

The medial collateral ligaments are found inside of the knee and serve to connect the ends of the knee bones. These ligaments protect the knee’s function and prevent the knee from bending fully inwards. An MCL tear may damage a skier’s ability to extend or control knee movement, which may prove to be particularly debilitating for skiers’ mobility. These tears can cause significant pain, bruising, or swelling if left untreated.

While this list of injuries is not exhaustive, it does include the most common injuries for skiers. Individuals engaging in snow sports should know their injury risks and prepare accordingly.

Why Are Spinal Cord Injuries Particularly Serious?

Skiing and snowboarding injuries have increased along with the popularity of the sports themselves. Among these injuries, those involving spinal cord injuries are the most serious, and sometimes fatal. There are many different types of spinal cord injuries that range in severity, frequency, and intensity. Although every spinal cord injury is different, all spinal cord injuries should be taken seriously by victims and medical professionals to avoid future problems.

Spinal pain of any kind can be a warning sign of permanent damage because the spine is the casing that protects the most important parts of the central nervous system. Left untreated, some spinal injuries can lead to permanent nerve damage, which may make life difficult for a victim. Victims of chronic spinal pain may be unable to lead normal lives due to serious mobility limitations.

If you have been involved in an accident where you sustained spinal cord damage or injury, you should see a medical professional as soon as possible. While there may be some home treatment options for the pain itself, a doctor may be able to diagnose your condition and help mitigate the long-term effects of your spinal cord injuries. It may also be beneficial to contact an attorney to assess your potential legal options.

Can I File a Claim If I Injure My Spinal Cord While Skiing?

Depending on the specifics of your claim, you may be able to file a lawsuit if you sustained a spinal injury while skiing. Your ability to file may depend on a variety of factors, including the specifics of your accident and the actions of the responsible parties.

To seek damages for a skiing injury, you must show that the responsible party owed you a duty of care and breached that duty, which caused your injury. For example, if you followed all prescribed safety protocols, but were still injured by a defective lift, the lift company itself may be liable for your injuries. Snow resorts that fail to maintain their facilities may also be liable for any resulting injuries. In most states, resort and lift companies have an obligation to maintain their businesses. Thus, if you were injured by their negligent failure to keep their premises safe, you may be able to recover in court. Additionally, you may be entitled to compensation if a defective product failed to protect you from a nasty wipeout. Helmet, ski, and equipment companies boast the reliability of their products in an attempt to sell more merchandise. However, if these products failed to meet a company’s stated standards, you may be able to recover damages for such failings.

Many other factors can impact your ability to recover for injuries incurred during a skiing accident. These factors can range from involved negligence, mitigation efforts, and the overall damage caused by the incident. Another important consideration is whether the victim signed a liability waiver. Colorado courts may uphold waivers where skiers agreed to assume the risk, which limits victims’ ability to recover compensation.

Additionally, claimants should be careful to ensure that they file within Colorado’s two-year statute of limitations for personal injury suits. If you fail to file within this set time period, you may lose your right to file at all. If you have sustained spinal cord injuries during a skiing accident, you should discuss your case with an experienced spinal cord ski injury attorney to help ensure you file your claim on time.

Contact Zinda Law Group’s spinal cord ski injury lawyers

Claims involving spinal cord injuries caused by skiing accidents can be complicated. If you or a loved one suffered a spinal cord injury in a skiing accident, you should contact a lawyer who handles personal injury lawsuits as soon as possible. A personal injury attorney may be able to help you seek legal recourse for any damages related to the accident and evaluate the facts of your claim.

At Zinda Law Group, we have the knowledge and resources necessary to help you pursue the highest compensation possible. Our Denver attorneys know Colorado skiing and snowboarding laws inside and out, and we may be able to help you or your loved one seek compensation for their spinal cord injury.

If you or a loved one has sustained a spinal cord injury while skiing, call Zinda Law Group at (800) 863-5312 for a free consultation with one of our accident injury lawyers. We offer our clients a contingency fee arrangement, which means you don’t owe us anything unless we win your case.

Meetings with attorneys are available by appointment only.