The National Ski Areas Association (NSAA) reports that there were 31 catastrophic incidents at ski resorts in the United States during the 2018/19 season. 21 of these accidents involved skiers. 10 involved snowboarders.
According to NSAA, the leading causes of serious injury on the slopes in 2018/19 were:
- Collision with the snow surface
- Collision with other skiers or snowboarders
- Collision with stationary objects like trees and boundary fencing
The NSAA defines “catastrophic injury” as those which will result in “…significant neurological trauma, major head injuries, spinal cord injuries resulting in full or partial paralysis, and injuries resulting in the loss of a limb.”
Catastrophic injuries during the 2018/19 season were well below the 10-year average of 46 and six fewer than the 37 serious injuries sustained during the 2017/18 season.
Ski and Snowboard Fatalities
During the 2018/19 ski season, 42 people suffered fatal injury. This is .02 percentage points higher than the 10-year average of 38. The most common cause of death on the slopes is collision with other skiers, closely followed by collision with the snow surface or trees. 36 of the fatalities last year were skiers. Six people died while snowboarding.
A Look at Helmet Use
The NSAA reports that 85% of all skiers and snowboarders wore helmets during the 2018/19 season. At the time of injury, all but six of the people who sustained an injury on the slopes last season were wearing helmets. By comparison, 11 of the fatal ski and snowboarding injuries during the 2018/19 season were sustained by men and women not wearing helmets.
Studies have found that skiers and snowboarders who wear helmets are less likely to sustain a catastrophic or fatal injury. However, helmets only work to a point and may be rendered ineffective during high-speed collisions.
Brain injury is the most common skiing and snowboarding injury. It is also the leading cause of death following ski and snowboarding accidents. Risks for traumatic brain injury are reduced when helmets are used, but maintaining a reasonable speed and paying attention is a better safety plan. Only ski courses you are experienced and skilled enough to navigate and be courteous on the slopes. Being thoughtful, cautious, and responsible can help ensure everyone has a fun and injury-free experience.
Who is Liable for Ski Accident Injuries?
Liability in a ski accident is the same as liability in any accident: it will lie with the party who was acting irresponsibly. If you were run down by another skier or snowboarder or if you sustained your injury due to a course defect or danger, you may be entitled to seek compensation for all related damages. If your accident was caused by your own negligent or reckless actions, you are likely not eligible to take legal action. The best way to find out if you have cause to file suit is through a free, one-on-one consultation with one of the ski accident lawyers at Leventhal Sar.
Dedicated, thorough, and effective, Sean Leventhal and Jonathan Sar are here to listen to your case, provide honest information about your options, and guide you towards the best solution for your situation. Please call our Cherry Creek office at 720-667-3030 to schedule your complimentary consultation today.