Snow sports are fun, but they’re not without risks. An accident on the slopes can cause serious injuries. Medical bills, lost work time, and painful rehabilitation can follow. When it’s not just your fault, but someone else causes your injuries, a lawsuit may be necessary to protect your financial future.
Sharing information after a skiing accident
Besides getting emergency medical attention, someone who is injured by another skier needs to be sure to get the other person’s name and contact information. Nevada’s skiing and snowboarding law requires anyone who is involved in a collision that involves an injury to provide the injured person, the operator of the ski resort, or a member of the ski patrol with his or her name and current address. NRS 455A.170(2). This information must be provided at the scene, or as soon as practical afterward if the reporting person needs to leave the scene to get help for the injured person. Someone who doesn’t share information is guilty of a misdemeanor. Our neighbors in California have a similar rule.
Like other personal injury cases, a skiing accident often will rest on the question of negligence. Each accident is different and liability will depend on facts. In some cases negligence will be easier to show than in others.
There are two important defenses that likely will come up in a skiing accident case. The first is assumption of risk. Snowboarders and skiers understand that there are risks involved with their sport, including the possibility of running into another person on the slope. The question of assumption of risk may come down to whether the injured person knew that he or she was at risk of being hurt. For example, someone who stays at the landing spot of a popular jump should know the risk of being hit.
The other important defense is contributory negligence. This defense might apply where a plaintiff wasn’t paying enough attention at the time of the accident, or made a bad decision that made it difficult for the defendant to avoid the collision. Under Nevada’s modified comparative negligence rule, plaintiffs who contributed to the accident will have their recovery reduced by the their percentage of the overall fault. If the plaintiff is found to have been more than 50% at fault for the accident, he or she cannot recover any damages. NRS 41.141.
Nevada requires certain behavior by skiers and snowboarders
Establishing that someone acted negligently can be easier if the defendant’s negligence was also a violation of a statute or regulation. Nevada law provides several specific rules designed to prevent accidents. Skiers and snowboarders are required to avoid others while entering a run or starting from a stopped position. NRS 455A.110(4). They are also required to keep a “proper lookout” and, to the best of their ability, control their speed to avoid others. NRS 455A.110(5). The law also requires skiers to conduct themselves “in such a manner as to avoid injury to persons and property.” NRS 455A.110(6). Skiing or snowboarding while under the influence of drugs or alcohol is illegal. NRS 455A.170(1).
The language of these rules leaves plenty of room for legal argument. For example, the proviso in NRS 455A.110(5) that skiers must control their speed “to the best of their ability” gives leeway to relatively inexperienced people who may not have the skill necessary to stop themselves. In cases where the statute appears to provide an excuse, the injured plaintiff might need to fall back on a conventional negligence argument. Fortunately, a personal injury case can pursue both theories.
GGRM can help
The law firm of Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez has helped injured clients in the Las Vegas area get the compensation they deserve. If you have questions about your legal options after a skiing or snowboarding accident, our attorneys will be happy to review your case. For a free consultation, reach out to us today at 702-388-4476, or ask us to call you through our contacts page.