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Am I entitled to make a skiing accident claim?

As a travel litigation and serious accidents abroad claims solicitor, I outline the circumstances when you may be able to claim for a winter sports injury. Winter sports are more popular than ever before. Every year, thousands of people head for the slopes to create and share memorable moments with family and friends.

Unfortunately, the combination of speed and inexperience means getting injured is a common occurrence that can happen to anyone at any time.

During winter, I regularly oversee snowboarding and skiing accident claims where holidaymakers have either been injured or caused an injury to others.

The most common injuries include concussion, dislocated joints, knee injuries and broken arms and legs. But they can range from a badly sprained ankle to serious and potentially life-changing accidents. In the worst-case scenario, fatalities can occur.

If you fall when skiing or snowboarding, you could be at a heightened risk of a brain injury, spinal injury or both. Such injuries can cause partial or full paralysis – leading to long-lasting disruption in everyday life.

Michael Schumacher, who suffered life-threatening injuries after hitting his head on a rock in a French Alps skiing accident in 2013, is probably the highest-profile example of the risks involved in winter sports.

In my experience a lot of the injuries incurred could have been prevented by taking a few precautions.

Top 10 injury prevention tips for winter sports

If you’re a bit of a thrill seeker, you’ll probably be excited by the chance to take part in winter sports and enjoy having fun in the snow.

By following the simple steps outlined below you can do just that – and help reduce your risk of suffering an accident or injury:

  • Adopt a safety-first approach to any activity holiday: Before booking your trip, research and check the resort for its safety record.
  • Dress appropriately: Layer up and make sure clothing is loose-fitting so movements are not restricted.
  • Choose the right footwear: Insulated shoes or boots are essential for any winter sport.
  • Always wear a helmet: A must-have safety essential, helmets are now compulsory at most winter sports resorts.
  • Use goggles: Protect your eyes from injury and UV rays from the bright winter sun.
  • Never go alone: Minimise the risk of a potentially life-threatening injury by being with someone who can get help if there’s an accident.
  • Know what you’re doing: Before hitting the slopes, spend some time with a qualified instructor and learn the proper techniques.
  • Check ALL equipment thoroughly: Ensure your skis are well maintained and test any bindings to see that they fit correctly before your first run.
  • Know your abilities: Check you are on a run which is on a par with your ability and stick to trails that are suitable.
  • Avoid the slopes after excessive alcohol: Drinking too much can impair your judgement. Say no to ‘Night Time Runs’ or skiing when under the influence of alcohol as it could put your safety and the safety of others at increased risk.

Am I entitled to compensation for an accident on the slopes?

If you are unfortunate enough to be involved in a skiing, snowboarding or winter sports accident, there are a wide number of scenarios in which you may be able to claim compensation.

You may be entitled to make a claim if the accident was:

  • Caused by the negligent actions of another skier.
  • Created by a hidden obstruction you could not be expected to anticipate – such as a snow mobile parked around a corner.
  • Due to the negligent care of a ski guide or tour representative.
  • Due to poor ski school instruction or teaching unsafe techniques.
  • Caused by faulty equipment (skis, bindings, ski lift or tow).

Skiing and snowboarding does carry a certain level of ‘ordinary’ risk. But if that level of danger is heightened due to the negligence, reckless behaviour or dangerous conduct of another skier or a resort operator; you may be able to claim compensation. The same principles would apply if you were injured as an innocent passenger whilst on a snow mobile ride or Husky expedition experience.

Should an injury occur whilst taking part in an activity that’s been booked as part of a package holiday, it could be possible to claim compensation from the tour operator if reasonable precautions were not taken to protect you from foreseeable harm.

In most cases where an accident results in a compensation settlement, it is the insurance company of the negligent party who bears the expense. This is the main reason why all skiers and winter sports enthusiasts should have a suitable level of personal liability insurance before hitting the slopes.

It is also a good idea to take out a suitable level of travel insurance cover as this will help to meet the costs should any medical expenses be incurred.

When buying travel insurance, always make sure it’s the right fit for you and your holiday. Don’t just buy the cheapest and most basic package. If you do, you may find you’re not covered in certain circumstances or you’re only covered up to a certain amount.

Remember, in most cases, travel insurance will only pay out in the event of a cancellation, to replace lost luggage or for medical expenses.

It will NOT compensate you for any pain or suffering you experience, loss of earnings or any care package and adaptations that may need making to your home in the event of a serious injury. These are the three main reasons why you would enlist our help here at Hudgell Solicitors.

Get free, expert advice about your winter sports injury

Having overseen hundreds of cases involving skiing and snowboarding accidents, I understand how difficult it can be to deal with the aftermath. To receive the justice you deserve, and put your mind at rest, please get in touch and one of our expert travel litigation solicitors will advise you whether to pursue a claim.

The first priority in every case we handle is to ensure that all your rehabilitation needs are met. Once your life is back on track, we will bring a claim against those responsible – leaving you to focus on getting fit and returning to the winter activities you enjoy.

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