Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

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UPDATED: Feb 8, 2020

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Ski area operators and manufacturers are often defendants in ski and snowboarding accident lawsuits involving the negligent operation, maintenance, installation or design of a ski lift. Our ski law accident expert explains how.

Colorado Attorney Jim Chalat

Although these types of cases are few and far between, they do occur, according to Jim Chalat, a Colorado attorney with over 30 years experience whose practice focuses on personal injury, and particularly ski accident law. He says that lift cases involve misleads and errors at the unloading zone where the operator is asleep at the switch, so to speak. He explained:

These actually compose a larger percentage of the lift cases than simple products cases or when the lift fails. In fact, most lift accidents occur as a result of lift operator negligence, either in failing to see that somebody has misloaded and stopping the lift to allow them to get off safely, not making sure that the area around the loading and unloading areas are clear of obstructions, such as ropes, fences or other passengers who have fallen in front of the skiers who are on the next lift to unload. So these types of errors in failing to stop the lift when there’s a mislead or a mix up on the loading board, or failing to stop the lift to prevent people from colliding in to previously fallen passengers, known as a pileup, are cases that we see often.

Hazards on the slopes

Chalat says that ski area operators can also be held responsible for the hazards on the slopes. He explained, “[An operator] is sometimes a defendant in cases in which there’s a downhill skiing accident in which the accident was a result of the hazards which are not found to be inherent in the sport or the activity of skiing such as unmarked manmade obstacles which are not readily visible, unsafely designed or unguarded bridges or other manmade passageways that are ordinarily used in the larger resorts. They’re also a defendant when a skier is injured or killed as a result the mishandling or negligently operating a snowmobile or ski groomer.”

If you’ve been injured in a skiing or snowboarding accident, contact an experienced injury attorney whose practice focuses in this area of the law to discuss your situation, evaluate your options and find out more about potential damages. Consultations are free, without obligation and are strictly confidential.