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The Colorado Ski Saftey Act

Colorado has been called "Ski Country," with forty-nine (49) terrain parks, over 1,800 trails, and 300 days of sun. Given that, the Colorado General Assembly (GA) has attempted to balance the competing interests of ski resorts and its patrons by protecting visiting skiers and snowboarders against resort operator negligence, while also protecting business owners from frivolous claims.

The Colorado Ski Safety Act (SSA) defines the legal rights, liabilities, and responsibilities of ski area operators and of the individuals who use their facilities. Under SSA, the General Assembly has significantly limited ski area operators’ tort liability by granting them immunity for "injury resulting from any of the inherent dangers and risks of skiing."

Attorney for the Ski Safety Act in Denver, Colorado

If you were injured in a skiing or snowboarding incident, you should talk with an experienced personal injury attorney about how the Ski Safety Act might affect your claim against a ski area operator.

Attorney Jennifer Donaldson has more than two decades of experience working to get the clients the best result possible. Law Office of Jennifer L. Donaldson is located in Denver County, Colorado.

Call (303)-458-5000 for more information about the Ski Safety Act.


Liability under the Ski Safety Act

The SSA gives ski area operators an incentive to protect skiers and mitigate the risks that they face. The SSA recognizes that a ski area operator should not be immune from all liability. Therefore, ski area operators are not immune from liability for injuries that result from the operator's negligence.

The Colorado General Assembly does not allow unlimited immunity for ski resort operators, nor does it allow for an injured party's claim against an operator to go without limitations. Limitations on recovery under the Ski Safety Act include the following:

The Statute of Limitations- Section §33-44-111, provides a two-year statute of limitations for all actions against ski area operators to recover damages for injuries caused by maintenance, supervision, or operation of a ski area.

Damages Cap – Section §33-44-113 provides a one million dollar cap on damages recoverable by an injured skier.


Skier versus Skier Lawsuits

Ski resort operators are not the only ones who owe a duty of care to skiers. Skiers and snowboarders must operate their winter sports equipment in a reasonably safe manner. The Colorado Ski Safety Act also sets forth duties that skiers owe to one another. Section § 33-44-109 specifically outlines the duties required of all Colorado skiers.  If someone fails to abide by these duties and causes injuries to another skier or snowboarder, they can be held liable for the damages incurred by the injured party.

Inherent Dangers and the Risks of Skiing in Colorado

Winter sports, like many other sports activities, have some dangers that cannot be separated from the activity – they are, by their very nature, inherently dangerous in this sense. Section 33-44-103(3.5) of the SSA sets forth some examples of the risks that are inherent in winter sports activities like skiing and snowboarding. Inherent dangers in skiing include the following:

  • variations in steepness or terrain;
  • surface or subsurface conditions;
  • changing weather conditions;
  • snow conditions as they exist or may change;
  • impact with natural and man-made objects that are common on slopes; and
  • skier failure to ski within their own abilities.

Examples of Inherent Dangers on the Colorado Slopes

Whether you are new to skiing or are a pro, it is important to understand the inherent dangers for which ski resort operators may be immune from liability. The following examples elaborate on the categories above:

  • "surface or subsurface conditions" include bare spots, forest growth, rocks, stumps, streambeds, cliffs, extreme terrains, and other natural objects;
  • "variations in steepness or terrain" include roads, jumps, or other terrain modifications; and
  • "snow conditions as they exist or may change" is defined to mean conditions such as ice, hard pack, packed powder, wind pack, corn, crust, slush, cut-up snow, and machine-made snow.

Attorney for Winter Sports Negligence in Denver County, CO

Understanding your ability to recover damages from a ski resort operator or another skier is imperative. Most ski area operators have general liability waivers that may prevent your ability to recover damages. Speaking with an experienced Denver personal Injury attorney can help.

Attorney Jennifer Donaldson is an experienced personal injury lawyer who is committed to protecting her client's rights.

Call (303)-458-5000 now to schedule a consultation for more information on your case.  

This Article Was Last Updated on Tuesday, March 28, 2017.